Thursday, December 13, 2007

How Cool Is This? We Have an Interview With Eric Kimmel...

Hey, everyone, it's Carl. Lookee here! We have two, yes, two interviews with real honest-to-goodness authors, Eric Kimmel and Tony Abbott! Both of them were at our Novello festival and both are great people. Our first interview is with Eric Kimmel! (Eric is on the right; Tony Abbott is on the left The other two are Jeff Smith of Bone graphic novels and james Ramsome, the illustrator)

Why do you think it's cool for boys to read?

What a question! That’s like asking if it’s cool for boys to breathe. To me, reading
is the same as breathing. If you don’t breathe, your body is dead. If you don’t
read, your mind is dead. Reading is more important than just being cool. It’s
essential. Show me a leader in any field in any field who doesn’t read. I can’t
think of any. Knowledge is power. Plug into the power of your mind. Open a

Is it cool for boys to write/draw? Why?

Stop worrying about being cool. Stop looking at what everybody else is doing to
figure out if it’s okay to do what you want to do. Truly cool people do what they
want and don’t care what other people think. Leaders lead. You can’t be a leader
if you’re always trying to figure out where everybody else is going. Think for
yourself. That’s the only way to be really cool.
If you want to write, write! If you want to draw, dance, paint, play an instrument,
then go ahead and do it. If you like to read or just daydream, you don’t have to
make apologize or ask anyone’s permission.
Your real friends will always support you. The people who matter will encourage
you. As for the rest, they’re just a bunch of dogs barking. Let ‘em bark. Who

Who was your favorite comic book character when you were a boy? Do you have
a favorite character now?

My favorite comic book character was Superman. I can still recite the whole
opening of the old TV show. “Faster than a speeding bullet…” I don’t read comic
books anymore. I’m too old for graphic novels. There’s one I really thought was
stupendous. Check out Art Spiegel’s Maus (vol. 1 & 2)

What is your favorite sport?

I wasn’t any good at sports. I hated baseball. Still do. That’s because all my
experiences were negative. I couldn’t catch, couldn’t hit, couldn’t field. I spent a
lot of time standing in the outfield doing nothing and at bat doing nothing. They
told me not to swing. Maybe the pitcher would walk me. One day I brought a
book to the game, sat down in the outfield and read it. Nobody paid the slightest
attention and it didn’t affect the outcome of the game one bit.
That doesn’t mean I’m inactive. I enjoyed tennis until my knee went. I love riding
horses and my bicycle. In the summer I go on 40-50 mile rides in the Oregon
I don’t mean to put you down if you enjoy sports. Just remember this. The best
sports are the ones you play yourself. Don’t turn into the kind of person who sits
on the couch, watching others play. Don’t be a couch potato. If you’re going to sit
on the couch, at least make sure you’re reading a book. Then, at least, your brain
will be getting some exercise.

What do you like to do for fun?

Other than my bike and horses, I love to play my banjo. I love bluegrass. I can
happily spend a whole day at a bluegrass festival just listening to music and
hanging out with the banjo pickers. I’m a voracious reader. I go through 5-10 fat
history books a week. I enjoy cooking, especially baking bread. I love fiber arts.
I’m an excellent knitter. I know how to spin and I’m just starting to get into

What is the favorite book you have written?

My two favorites would be Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock and Hershel and
the Hanukkah Goblins.

Which do you like better--cheeseburgers or pizza? What do you like on them?

Are you kidding? Pizza! It wins hands down. I ‘ll eat pizza with anything on it,
except sweet stuff like pineapple. Ugh! My favorite topping is anchovies. If you
don’t want them, save them for me. If you really love pizza, you have to go to
Italy. Pizza there is completely different there. The indredients are fresh, so the
taste is out of this world.
Guess what else I love to eat. Barbecue! I’m partial to the Texas style, but did
you know that North Carolina barbecue is famous? Folks in your state use more
vinegar than the Texans. North Carolina pulled pork—my, oh, my! That’s good!!
I guess that’s the end of the questions. Thanks for giving me a chance to
respond. I loved my time in Charlotte and I love your library. There’s nothing like
it in the world!

Happy Holidays!
Eric A. Kimmel

Thanks, Eric! Next time you're in town, try the food at Bubba's Barbecue. Yum, yum! Let me tell you about those two books he mentioned. Both of them are picture books but don't let that put you off--these are great stories and fun for any age. The first is Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock. Anansi is a spider who lives in Africa and loves to play tricks. One day he spots a strange-looking moss-covered rock. It turns out that it's a magic rock that makes people pass out. Anansi soon figures a way to use this rock to trick the other animals out of their food. Can anyone outsmart him before he steals every last bit of food? The answer is really funny. I love this book and never get tired of it. There are lots of books with Anansi stories, but this one (and the others that he and the wonderful illustrator Janet Stevens have done) are far and away the best.

The other one is Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins. This book (illustrated by the fantastic Trina Schart Hyman) is another story about Hershel of Ostropol, which means it's another laugh-out-loud story about another trickster. This time Hershel wanders into a village on a cold, snowy night. He doesn't worry about going hungry because it's the first night of Hanukkah and everyone will be willling to share--or so he thinks! This village doesn't celebrate Hanukkah anymore because the goblins have taken over the synagogue and blow out the candles whenever anyone lights the menorah. The only way to drive them off is to stay in the old, desrted, creepy synagogue, light the candles each night, and, finally, get the king of the goblins to light them hismself on the last night. No problem for Hershel of Ostopol! He can outwit any goblin. Or can he? Wait until you see the king of the goblins. He's scary! This book made me laugh and shiver and I bet you will too! (Check out our October 25 post, "Hooray for Eric Kimmel!" to see more about Hershel) If you want to visit Eric's website, click here.

No comments: