Monday, November 20, 2017
Books

What's Dav Pilkey reading?

RECOMMENDED READING


Nightstand

Dav Pilkey

To countless kids, he's the god who gave them Captain Underpants. For countless parents and teachers, he's a savior for his ability to get kids enthralled with reading. Pilkey, 46, first realized his knack for writing and drawing as a youngster. The story goes that he was deemed a constant troublemaker in elementary school; later he realized it was due to his having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. His teachers would send him out almost every day to sit at a desk in the school's hallway, and it was there he first began creating mischievous characters and zany superheroes. More than 30 years later, he's still at it. His Captain Underpants series has sold more than 1 million copies worldwide, and he's also the author of such bestselling books as Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot, Dog Breath (winner of the California Young Reader Medal), The Paperboy (a Caldecott Honor Book) and The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby. His latest book, Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers, was released by Scholastic last month.

What's on your nightstand?

The Autobiography of Mark Twain: Volume 1, Reader's Edition. I read the more scholarly, original version a couple of years ago, and I have to say that the Reader's Edition is much more user friendly. It's a sweeping account of the life and opinions of America's greatest writer. It's hilarious and heartbreaking, wise and grouchy. It's the kind of book you'll want to read with a yellow highlighter. I can't wait for Volume 2.

When you had learning struggles in elementary school, what authors kept your attention?

The writers who captivated me the most were comic strip writers: Charles Schulz, Ernie Bushmiller and Dik Browne. I used to plop down on the floor every afternoon with our newspaper's funny pages. I didn't care much for reading, but I desperately wanted to figure out the jokes in each comic strip, so I happily perused the daily antics of Nancy, Sluggo, Charlie Brown, Hagar the Horrible and Heathcliff. For me, I think it was usually the combination of words and pictures that drew me in. I loved how the artwork complemented the writing, each telling part of the story. You really couldn't have one without the other.

When students tell you that they identify with your personal story in school, how do you encourage them?

I try to remind them that there are a lot of very successful people out there who didn't fit in in school. Leonardo da Vinci was dyslexic, Albert Einstein couldn't tie his own shoelaces, and Thomas Edison's teachers thought he was brain damaged. It's pretty empowering when kids realize that they have so much in common with such an exclusive group of successful misfits.

If you weren't an author and an illustrator, what would you be?

Probably an elementary school teacher.

Piper Castillo, Times staff writer

Comments
What to watch this week: ‘Marvel’s Runaways,’ ‘Godless,’ Thanksgiving specials

What to watch this week: ‘Marvel’s Runaways,’ ‘Godless,’ Thanksgiving specials

MondayDavid Letterman: The Mark Twain Prize, 9 p.m., PBS: A special celebrating the work of Late Night and The Late Show host David Letterman.SERIES PREMIERE: Big Hero 6 the Series, 8 p.m., Disney Channel: The new animated series takes place after th...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Video: Forget Pizza Rat. Meet St. Petersburg’s Pizza Squirrel

Video: Forget Pizza Rat. Meet St. Petersburg’s Pizza Squirrel

New York, it seems, doesn't have a monopoly on pizza-chomping rodents.Around 2:45 p.m. Friday, the Tampa Bay Times spotted a squirrel digging a nearly entire slice of pizza out of a trash can at 146 Second St. N in St. Petersburg. The squirrel hoppe...
Published: 11/17/17
Here are this week’s pop culture winners and losers

Here are this week’s pop culture winners and losers

WINNERS:Taylor SwiftFollowing the death of his mother, Gloria, The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon shared a touching story with the audience about his mom squeezing his hand three times and saying "I love you," when he was a kid. "Last week, I was in ...
Published: 11/17/17
Review: ‘Marvel’s Runaways’ pits rebellious teens against their evil parents

Review: ‘Marvel’s Runaways’ pits rebellious teens against their evil parents

The parents in Runaways really are the worst.Hulu's new Marvel series follows a ragtag group of teenagers who have to band together to defeat their own parents, who are collective members of a secret criminal organization called the Pride.In the wake...
Published: 11/17/17
What to watch this weekend: ‘The Punisher,’ ‘Search Party,’ Elizabeth Smart Lifetime movie

What to watch this weekend: ‘The Punisher,’ ‘Search Party,’ Elizabeth Smart Lifetime movie

GRIEF AND GUNS: THE PUNISHERMarvel fans first saw Marine veteran Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) in Netflix's Daredevil series. The brutish anti-hero finally gets his own series with The Punisher, exploring what he did after helping Daredevil (Charlie Co...
Published: 11/17/17
Jesmyn Ward wins National Book Award for ‘Sing, Unburied, Sing’

Jesmyn Ward wins National Book Award for ‘Sing, Unburied, Sing’

Jesmyn Ward is having a good year.At a glamorous ceremony Wednesday night in New York, Ward was named the winner of the 2017 National Book Award for Sing, Unburied, Sing, about a Mississippi family's epic road trip. The book is Ward's third novel ...
Published: 11/16/17
Review: George Saunders’ ‘Sea Oak’ makes a dead-funny TV comedy

Review: George Saunders’ ‘Sea Oak’ makes a dead-funny TV comedy

Recently, George Saunders won the Man Booker Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious literary awards.And now he has a TV show about zombies!Saunders, one of America’s best writers of fiction, won the 2017 Booker for his splendid novel Lincoln in t...
Published: 11/16/17

Events: Tampa historians to sign books at hurricane relief benefit

Book TalkNancy Christie (Rut-Busting Book for Writers) will sign her book at 11 a.m. Nov. 20 at 321 Books, 6901 22nd Ave. N, St. Petersburg.John Cinchett (Vintage Tampa Storefronts and Scenes), Rex Gordon (History of Hillsborough High School), Linda ...
Published: 11/16/17
What’s Elaine M. Hayes reading?

What’s Elaine M. Hayes reading?

NightstandElaine M. HayesHayes, the author of Queen of Bebop: The Musical Lives of Sarah Vaughan, said she was a college student when Vaughan’s voice first captivated her. "My roommate played a lot of her in our daily life. I remember thinking that s...
Published: 11/16/17
Your heart can go on when ‘Titanic’ returns to theaters

Your heart can go on when ‘Titanic’ returns to theaters

It's the holiday season, so why not capitalize on a beloved film by bringing it back to theaters for a limited engagement?That's what Dolby Laboratories, Paramount Pictures and AMC Theaters are doing, announcing that a remastered version of Titanic w...
Published: 11/15/17