105 Ways to Give a Book

The Hiccupotamus Blog Tour

I could talk at length about how funny and cute The HICCUPotamus is, or rave about the bright and humorous illustrations, or wax poetic about the clever and silly rhymes. I could do that, but honestly I couldn’t come close to the awesome descriptions given at Fuse#8 and 5 Minutes for Books on Tuesday and Wednesday of this Blog Tour. I can’t corner the adorable market when Aaron Zenz’s own kids have knocked it out of the park on the first day of the tour on his own blog, Bookie Woogie. (By the way, if you don’t know about this blog’s unique approach to children’s books, now is the time to correct that error by reading their post and commenting for the chance to win ten books. Yes, that’s ten books.) But what I can do is share some of the funniest responses ever to my MotherReader Five Ws Interview, with only slight trepidation that said interview reveals the author to be much funnier than... um, me. Enjoy.



The Great Crayon EscapeWhen did you start writing?

I was born with pencils in hand. Although this made for a very uncomfortable delivery for more than one of us involved, it led to many early writing experiences. Here’s the cover from one of my first stories, called “The Great Crayon Escape,” which you can read in its multicolored entirety here.

Where do you do your best thinking?

Typically in my head.

I’ve considered getting one of those puffy thought bubbles, so I can think ABOVE my head. But have you priced those things? Outrageous. I’m going to have to stick with “inside my head” for the time being.

Who inspires you, personally or professionally?

I have to choose either or? Gosh. Well, Personally is an awfully nice fellow. And I really don’t want to hurt Professionally’s feelings. But if I have to choose between the two... Personally. Yep. I’d say Personally inspires me more.

(Man, I hope Professionally isn’t going to be reading this...)

Why did you want to write this particular book?

Hiccup. Plus. Potamus. It all started with a single awful pun in 1996.

The title came first: “The Hiccupotamus.”

Nanoseconds later, the first verse arrived perfectly intact: “There was a hippopotamus / Who hiccuped quite-a-lotamus / And every time he got’emus / He’d fall upon his bottomus.”

After that it took eight years of pounding and hammering and scraping and carving for the rest of the book to come together.

The HiccupotamusThe funny thing is, I later discovered that the “hiccuping hippo” book is almost a genre unto itself. However I have NO idea why. I suspect it’s because they both start with “H.” But if that’s the case, where are all the hiccuping hamsters? Or hiccuping hedgehogs? Type Hippopotamus+Hiccup into Amazon sometime. (Mercer Mayer’s is the best, by the way.) It’s hard to believe that none of these others books were titled “Hiccupotamus” first. Seems like a no-brainer. What other good reason IS there for creating a hiccuping hippo than to use such a wonderfully horrid pun?

Hey I just took my advice — I typed Hippopotamus+Hiccup into Amazon, and I see that Mercer Mayer wrote his on Jan 1, 1976. That’s six days before I was born. That’s cool!

Wait a minute... what was the actual question? Oh yeah, why did I write The Hiccupotamus. I think that Mercer Mayer/birth connection explains everything pretty well.

What’s next for you?

I illustrated a book called Nugget on the Flight Deck (written by Patricia Newman) that comes out this month side by side with The Hiccupotamus. I also have a number of manuscripts that are in publishers’ hands right now. I’m waiting and praying for one of these projects to green-light. If it doesn’t happen soon, I’m going to have to abandon the world of kid lit and go work in a factory. Ha, ha, ha! Actually... that’s true. This is the only answer where I haven’t joked. Publishers? Yoo-hoo? Any green lights out there?



Admit it, you’re intrigued about the book this clever guy wrote. Well, you can win two signed copies of The Hiccupotamus — one for you and one for a friend — by leaving a comment on today’s post with the title of any of your other favorite funny picture books. (Contest open to U.S. mailing addresses only.)

28 comments:

Penny said...

You have been so funny it is hard to think of anyone/any book that could be funnier. You do great interviews. Thanks
Penny hulldotmargaretatoclsdotinfo

David Miles said...

Hey! Great interview :). I can't wait to read the Hiccupotamus!

Two of my fav funny books are Shel Silversteins, Who Wants a Cheap Rhinoceros? I just love when he sticks his head out of the toilet :). Adam Rex's, Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich is also hilarious! A must read :).

Infant Bibliophile said...

Love their blog and would love to read the book. The most recent funny picture book I bought was Knuffle Bunny. I love the moment the mom says "Where is Knuffle Bunny?" and the family racing through the park to get to the laundromat.

Anamaria (bookstogether) said...

This is my go-to blog for the funny. Funny picture books? Hmm.

Candi Criddle said...

I like these new insights to the books review! The book that has captured our family's interest of late is Brandon Mull's "Pingo", it is an excellent addition to a long line of funny picture books.

Boysnberries' Brambles said...

Who Wants Donuts? is a very humorous picture book that is well-loved in our home. But honestly, it doesn't beat our love for Zenz' book.

Boni Ashburn said...

Pam, Aaron- Fabulous :)

Recent funny favorites in our house: Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas and Are You A Horse? by Andy Rash. Oh, and the Monkey With A Toolbelt books (both of them!) by Chris Monroe- made of awesome :)

Rocs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Heidi Noel said...

Funny picture books? Hmm...this book is my favorite for silliness. I also like Psst... and any Olivia book by Ian Falconer. We love books!

Meg Kuta said...

My favorite funny picture books BESIDES The Hiccupotamus (which certainly comes in first place)are John Lithgow's I'm a Manatee and Marsupial Sue and Laurie Keller's Do Unto Otters (and other titles). All are big hits at home with our toddler, too! Thank you for a GREAT interview!

Melissa said...

Oh, SO funny.

Favorite funny picture book? Right now it's Watch Me Throw the Ball! (Or do early readers not count.)

Patti said...

I have to say I love love love Alan Durant's Burger Boy. And Christin Ditchfield's Cowlick isn't so shabby either.

Corey Schwartz said...

Ha! Hilarious interview!

ReadingTub said...

A great interview. I love the 5 W's. It really is hard to think of someone who does more with double entendre than you ... Congrats Aaron!

I immediately thought of Morris the Moose, but when it comes to picture books, I'd have to go with The Cow that Laid an Egg or the Plot Chickens. We don't stray too far from the farm around here!

etirv said...

We love Tomie de Paola's Strega Nona series!

delilah0180(at)yahoo(dot)com

Brimful Curiosities said...

Yes, Bookie Woogie is well worth a visit. Probably the most unique children's book blog out there. Can't beat a child's perspective or in that case, three.

One book I can always count on getting a laugh out of most any child is "Blue Hat, Green Hat" by Boynton. So simple, yet hilarious. My daughter likes a corny, vintage book called "Bennett Cerf's Book of Laughs." Some of the jokes are so lame that it is hard not to laugh.

Eric said...

Another great interview!

Other favorite funny picture books...
How about Sendack's Pierre and Munsch's Stephanie's Ponytail

Beth said...

Thanks for the giveaway. Another funny we thats a fav in our house is Daddy Can I Have an Elephant.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

Honey Mommy said...

We currently love books by Bob Staake. He writes "Hello Robots" and "The Red Lemon". They are great!

Jill said...

Good Night Gorilla is another one sure to bring a *giggle*

Kristi Valiant said...

I love funny picture books! Here are a few of my faves: Pssst! by Adam Rex
Little Hoot & Little Oink by Amy Krouse Rosenthal/Jen Corace
Duck & Goose by Tad Hills

MJ said...

I have a new favorite Otto grows Down. My kinder kids love it!


mj.coward[at]gmail.com

Kristina said...

My son would love this! He thinks it's so funny when we get the hiccups =)
luckistarr4 AT gmail DOT com

Brooke said...

Thanks to a friend my son now thinks There Was an Old Lady
By Jeremy Holmes is the most funny book... I think it is just because it isn't a normal left to right read... and you get to see the stuff in her belly.. weeshenanigans (at) gmail (dot) com

Swati said...

Hmmm. Being in India, I can't enter, but I can comment, can't I? But - how about I enter and give away both the books to friends in US? Best buddies, alter-ego kind of friends?

Pam said...

This sounds like such a fun book. And I love the bright illustrations. I also love the John Lithgow books as he has such a funny way about him. Thanks so much! pamelashockley(AT)netscape(DOT)net

Marsh Mayhem said...

Great interview! I think my favorite funny picture book is Silly Sally, but only because my kids are so funny when we read it!

Preschool Books said...

This book looks great. I think you did a fantastic job on the illustrations, which are probably the hardest thing to get right when writing and illustrating preschool books. I have to admit that I have not come across this book yet, so I will need to order one today. Thanks for the great interview.