Soon after I met my husband, he told me about his favorite radio comedy routine ever—a routine done in the voice of a dog who has escaped from home in order to live life as a WILD DOG! Out on the STREETS! Eating wild CANS OF DOG FOOD! My husband cannot recount this routine without laughing hysterically. When I asked him who the comic was, he said: “Daniel Pinkwater.” “The children’s book author?” I asked, somewhat surprised. My husband is a math teacher. He had no idea that Daniel Pinkwater was an author, let alone a longstanding (since the 1970s) children’s author known for his wide-ranging output: picture books, novels, short stories, easy-readers, every single one hilarious. (Not to mention, of course, his works for grown-ups, including both fiction, non-fiction and biography).
The next time Pinkwater had a lengthy children’s book come out, I snagged it off the shelf and brought it home to my husband. He disappeared into The Neddiad for days; the same thing happened with its sequel, The Yggyssey. And now there is Adventures of a Cat-Whiskered Girl, a companion book to the stories of Neddie and Iggy, about Big Audrey (a girl from another plane of existence) who does, as advertised, have cat whiskers. Big Audrey’s adventures take her to Poughkeepsie, NY, where she meets a crazy professor of classical accounting, a telepathic Catskill Mountain dwerg, and discovers that there is ANOTHER cat-whiskered girl in our plane of existence—and everyone thinks they are the same person!
The delight of Pinkwater’s stories is not so much the plots—though they are entertaining—but the dry way he describes completely outlandish situations as if they are everyday occurrences. Additionally, his dialogue—also dry—is perfectly spot-on; Pinkwater’s books are the sort that you find yourself reading aloud to other people, not just one or two passages per book, but one or two passages per page. The book may be long, and the plot may seem a bit meandering, but when you get to the end, you won’t be able to imagine any part that should have been edited down.
(Also, for you picture-book mavens, keep your eyes open for the homage to Maurice Sendak!)
And if you can’t find a physical copy of the book, you can read it serialized online on Pinkwater’s website: http://www.catwhiskeredgirl.com/. For that matter, check out his general website: http://www.pinkwater.com/–you can find information on his books, information about him, and enough radio broadcasts and podcasts to make even my husband happy.
Posted by: Sarah