First up is the very funny Artie Bennett.
ARTIE BENNETT is the executive copyeditor for a children’s book publisher, and he writes a little on the side (but not the backside!). He wrote THE DINOSAUR JOKE BOOK: A Compendium of Pre-Hysteric Puns (currently extinct) when he was a much younger man, but THE BUTT BOOK (Bloomsbury, 2010) is his first mature work. His “number two” picture book, fittingly called POOPENDOUS! (Blue Apple Books), was released in March 2012. He and his wife, Leah, live deep in the bowels of Brooklyn, New York, where he spends his spare time moving his car to satisfy the rigorous demands of alternate-side-of-the-street parking.
WELCOME, Artie! Let's get to the questions.
1. The book fairy transports you inside one of your books. Which book are you in, and what part do you play in the story?
I’m in my first “mature” work, The Butt Book. There’s a verse toward the end, and it’s one of my favorites:
An eagle’s butt soars high above.
A teddy bear’s is filled with love.
And I’m transported to Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, in Pennsylvania, watching raptors soaring past, as they migrate to warmer climes for the winter. As an avid bird watcher, however, I’m looking for a whole-bird experience, not merely the butt, diagnostic though it may be.
2. In approximately ten words, describe a favorite setting from a book you have written.
I’m afraid I’ll need to go over ten words! There’s a triplet in my “number two” picture book, Poopendous!, that goes
Critter poop is known as dung.
And monkey dung is sometimes flung.
Monkeys fling when under stress.
It helps the monkey decompress.
So if a monkey aims at you,
Duck behind a friend, or two.
This verse is set in a jungle. And having recently returned from an extraordinary nature vacation in Costa Rica, where nights were spent at eco-lodges in steamy rainforests (and mornings being awakened by the demonic, guttural growls of howler monkeys), I’ll pick the jungle every time as a favorite setting. But I’ll need to stay limber, for there’s much ducking to be done.
3. What does your office look like?
My office is a bit cluttered, with piles of work. But it’s not quite as chaotic as it may appear to the untutored eye. I’m surrounded by grammars, dictionaries, and other assorted reference guides. I also have a large tin filled with granola for a refreshing 10 am snack. And I keep a couple of squash racquets tucked away in the corner to help work off that refreshing 10 am snack.
4. If you were a superhero, who would you be, and why?
I would be Mr. Freeze. Now, I know that he is a supervillain, not a superhero, but something happened not too long ago that called for his capabilities. You should know that I have a serious ice cream addiction. I’m comfortable with it, though, because it’s my only vice. Well, I woke up one morning to find our fridge on the fritz—it apparently had crashed during the night. With abject terror for what I might come upon, I yanked open the freezer door, only to see my entire stash—as many as fifty pints of ice cream—all melted dead away. My first, hysterical thought was to pour the liquefied love into a huge vat—ice cream soup—and guzzle it down before leaving for work. But reason prevailed and I tossed them all in the trash. It was painful, but it had to be done. However, if, like Mr. Freeze, I could freeze things solid, I would have preserved my entire supply—and my happiness.
5. You've got the munchies at midnight. Which salty or sweet snack makes you get out of bed and head for the kitchen?
The antidote for the midnight munchies is cashews, a fistful of cashews. You see, I’m nuts about nuts, and cashews are my absolute favorite. I prefer them unsalted, though, and lightly roasted. Sometimes I can’t wait for the midnight munchies to strike and I take a fistful to bed at about 11 pm. And I settle into sweet dreams of eating some more. Good night.
Thanks for stopping by, Artie. We are NUTS about you!