My Ten Favorite Books by Daniel Pinkwater
He's been my favorite author since elementary school. He's great, so here are my favorites from his extensive career.
- •Alan Mendelsohn, The Boy From MarsTwo boys, Leonard and Alan, both new to their middle school, become fast friends. Then they go to weird bookstores, learn mind control, and there are aliens and parallel universes. This was the antidote to middle school for me; I've read it like 20 times.
- •The Last GuruThis is the sweetest, most charming overturning of traditional religion or greed-based new age hucksterism you'll ever read. Harold is a kid who experiences extraordinary good luck, becomes insanely wealthy, and uses his newfound opportunities to wreak wonderfully positive changes. It's a quick read, but is ten billion times more important than all religious works before or since put together.
- •The Big Orange SplotIt's a picture book for kids that illustrates how wonderful individual taste is. Nobody else writes such radical books for very young kids.
- •Lizard MusicWhen Victor is left alone at home during summer vacation, he sees lizards on tv playing music. When he investigates, he discovers things you'd never imagine. It's a great insight into how kids see the world, especially when confronted with good weird or confusing weird. Wonderful!
- •The Snarkout Boys & The Avocado Of DeathWalter, Winston, and Rat sneak out to see movies at the Snark Theatre. Add evil geniuses, a family of weirdos, and avocados. It also has the best description of a potato of any book you'll ever read.
- •The NeddiadMoving out west, ghosts, old Hollywood, trains, spiritual visions. I'm unsure how to say more without spoiling it. It's a fun adventure. It was followed by a tangential sequel The Yggyssey, and that in turn was followed by another tangential sequel Adventures Of A Cat Whiskered Girl. All three are great fun with tons of different ingredients, like minestrone in book form.
- •Hoboken Chicken EmergencyIt has a giant chicken. Why aren't you reading this right now?!
- •Fat Men From SpaceWilliam gets a filling in his tooth, one that receives radio signals. Then fat men from space invade the Earth and proceed to eat all of our junk food. This was the first Pinkwater book I ever read, on the advice of my friend in 4th grade, Kevin (I'm forever indebted to you for that, Kevin). It's improbable and insane and mentions food so often you will be affected. It's not an exaggeration to say that this book more than any other changed my life.
- •Bushman LivesIt's about a young artist finding his place in the world, with some surreal elements. It also offers a great slice of life of mid twentieth century Chicago.
- •Uncle Boris In The Yukon / Fish Whistle / Chicago Days, Hoboken NightsDaniel Pinkwater is a great children's author, but when it comes to autobiography, he is astounding. In these three books, he tells stories of dogs and other family members he's known and loved, relates family anecdotes, gives insights into his wandering careers, and is poignant and funny. If you like biographies, you should seek these out. One of the few times I've cried from reading is from his description of the death of a dog. He also clearly sees dogs as another kind of people. Lovely!