Official Letters

Here are a few answers to some questions I am often asked.

Which of all your books is your favorite?

I really enjoyed writing Birdbrain Amos. It's a story about a hippopotamus named Amos and a little tick bird named Amoeba whom Amos winds up having to take care of. The hippo and little bird go on a journey together. When I was writing Birdbrain Amos, I, too, was on a kind of journey. I was an at-home dad taking care of my daughter, who was a toddler at the time.  Like the little tick bird Amoeba, my daughter was a real chatterbox, talking incessantly about anything and everything.

Do you have any pets?

Yes, we have a golden retriever named Lyra.






Why did you write about a gerbil?

The inspiration for OBI, GERBIL ON THE LOOSE! was, in fact, a gerbil named Obi. It was my daughter's gerbil that she had when she was in fourth grade.

Here is how Obi came to be a book. I had written a story called BIRDBRAIN AMOS that had been published by a different publisher than the one that  usually publishes my stories. My editor who usually publishes my stories really liked BIRDBRAIN AMOS and asked if I'd write her a similar kind of a story.

Well, not wanting to disappoint my editor, who I like very much, I said, "Absolutely!"
I was flattered that my editor wanted me to write a story for her. In all honesty, though, I had no clue what to write about. I started working on it, but I couldn't think of a darn thing. Weeks went by and I still had nothing. Then one morning I was at my desk, trying to write. I was having trouble concentrating. I kept hearing this squeak, squeak, squeak coming from my daughter's bedroom down the hallway. The noise was coming from my daughter's pet gerbil. Her gerbil, whose name, as I say, was Obi, was in her cage, running around like crazy on her exercise wheel. The exercise wheel was squeaking like crazy. It was squeaking so much, I couldn't think.

"C'mon, Obi, knock it off!" I yelled out.

Like the gerbil could really understand what I said, right?

Well, the gerbil kept right on running. And the exercise wheel kept right on squeaking. And then, suddenly, inspiration struck me. "Hey," I thought. "What if I wrote about a gerbil?"

Well, one thought led to another thought and before long I had an idea for a story about a gerbil. The gerbil in the book would be named Obi, just like my daughter's gerbil. In fact, there are many similarities between the gerbil in the book and my daughter's gerbil. For starters, my daughter had named her gerbil after Obi Wan Kenobi, the Jedi knight in Star Wars – which is just what the girl in the book does with her gerbil.

And like the Obi in the book, we had no idea if my daughter's gerbil was male or female.

Like the Obi in the book, my daughter's gerbil was able to escape from her cage. We found this out one evening while my wife, daughter, and I were in the TV room, watching TV. The gerbil came wandering into the room, apparently curious to see what we were all up to. We thought she was a rat. We all shrieked and jumped up.

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