His tasty tales offer some of the funniest fiction out there. Cool characters and great action are trademarks that would please any picky boy reader.
In his “Baseball Card Adventures” series (my favorites) and other titles, Dan slips in history, geography, and other educational asides. Don’t worry. Happy readers will never know that they just consumed a good-for-you book.
Dan, what’s good right now about children’s literature?
I have no idea. I hardly ever read children’s books. In fact, I hardly ever read any books. Who has the time? I have to write six books every year. If I can make it through The New York Times each day, I feel like I’ve accomplished something. But if I can ever create something as good as The Invention of Hugo Cabret, I will die happy.
From your perspective, what can make that “good” even better?
Children’s books need to get way cooler. We’re competing against regular TV, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, video games, movies, and all other kinds of entertainment. For a kid to sit down with a book, it has to really grab the reader from page one, and most books for kids do not. Publishing companies need to tune in on what kids want to read and stop publishing boring stuff that only grownups like.
Okay, okay, he really grew up in New Jersey. In fact, he still lives there. But being raised by wild monkeys in Rangoon would have been a lot cooler.
Dan compensated for his bland and uneventful childhood by growing up to write farfetched stories for kids such as The Genius Files, My Weird School, The Homework Machine, The Million Dollar Shot, and his popular baseball card adventure series. He’s also written a whole bunch of other books that didn’t sell and went out of print, so we won’t mention them here.
Like a lot of boys, Dan hated to read, but loved sports. That’s one big reason why he writes a lot about sports and aims his books at reluctant readers like himself. Unfortunately, he was a lousy athlete as a kid. In fact, he was so bad that his friends made him play one-on-one with himself.
Dan graduated from Rutgers University in 1977 with a degree in psychology (which means, in Latin, “a total waste of time”). He never took a writing class in his life, and it shows. He doesn’t know how to create beautiful “word pictures.” He never learned the standard formula for a novel. There is no symbolism or deep moral lesson in his books. He still doesn’t know the difference between a simile and a metaphor.
Dan’s books are known for four things: a quirky, exciting plot that grabs the reader and won’t let go, an almost total lack of (boring) description, and a surprise ending.Wait, that’s only three things. Well, Dan’s books are also made out of paper. That makes four things.
Also, he always sticks the name Herb Dunn into his novels somewhere. This is just a cheap trick to force his old college friend Herb Dunn to read his books.When he’s not writing books, Dan loves to travel, ride his bike, visit marshmallow farms (see photo), and write self-aggrandizing third-person autobiographies like this one.
We could go on and on telling you lots of great stuff about Dan, his fantastic books, and what a terrific guy he is. But it would be a big bore. Besides, you’ve got more important stuff to do, like sort out your recycling. So if you want to find out more about Dan or his brilliant and wonderful daughter Emma who is looking over his shoulder as he writes this, go to his web site. Dan thinks you should buy lots of his books, for three reasons. Kids will love them, and Dan needs the money.
Wait, that’s only two reasons.