Paul O. Zelinsky
More Moose Shenanigans
In Moose’s debut outing, Z Is for Moose, written
by Kelly Bingham and illustrated by Paul O.
Zelinsky, the impatient title character is not
pleased when his friend Zebra selects Mouse—
rather than the obvious (to him) choice of
Moose—to represent the letter “M” in the
alphabet. In the collaborators’ companion volume, Circle, Square, Moose (Greenwillow, Sept.),
things again go comically awry when Moose
infiltrates a book called Circle, Square, Triangle
and refuses to obey when the narrator insists
Zelinsky says that finding the right visual
persona for the strong-willed Moose was ini-
tially a challenge—but a pleasant one. “Moose
has quite a definite personality—that was there
in the author’s words,” he says. “But I tried not to look at other cartoon
moose—in particular I didn’t want Moose to look like Bullwinkle. Growing
up, I loved those cartoons, but I created Moose by mostly avoiding what
Bullwinkle—and pictures of actual moose—look like. Though I was inspired
by real moose’s massive bodies, funny-looking thin legs, and knobby knees. I
really identify with those knobby knees.”
A versatile artist, Zelinsky creates picture book illustration that span the
classic, painterly style of his 1998 Caldecott-winning Rapunzel and Caldecott
Honor books Rumpelstiltskin and Hansel and Gretel; the folk art feel of
Caldecott Honor–winning Swamp Angel; and the whimsical, playful art of his
modern classic, The Wheels on the Bus, and Bingham’s Moose stories.
Which style is Zelinsky most comfortable with? “Actually, I don’t even want
to know if I favor one over another,” he muses. “I’m not so much in touch with
my feelings as I am in touch with each story, and I love to try my hand at differ-
ent things—and hope I’m doing the words justice. When I look at Rapunzel
now, I think, ‘How did I do that?’ But in the actual doing of illustrations, it
feels totally natural.”
Asked if he thinks Moose will make a third picture book appearance,
Zelinsky is positive: “I do think Moose will be back, but the question is who
will be having a problem with him next time around? First it was Zebra, then
it was the book itself—so I’m not sure who will have to cope with him next.”
A longtime Brooklyn resident, Zelinsky is happy to make his way across
the East River to be at Javits today. “Every time I’ve gone to BEA, I’ve loved it,
and every time I haven’t, I’ve wished I had,” he says, adding, “meeting booksellers is really the biggest thing about BEA for me.” Moose fans can find
Zelinsky signing Circle, Square, Moose today, 10: 30–11 a.m., at Table 6 in the
Autographing Area. —Sally Lodge
Turning Her Geek On
Lynn Brunelle remembers that her “inner geek”
first began to show itself in the middle of her
fifth and sixth grade “horse phase.” She didn’t
just like horses; she wanted to know every single scientific and beautiful thing about them.
“Science and art are really where my heart
beats,” says Brunelle, who has written about 45
books, mostly how-to titles for parents like her
bestsellers Camp Out! The Ultimate Kids Guide
and Pop Bottle Science (both published by
Workman, where she once worked as an editor).
Brunelle moved from her native Maine and
started her professional career as an editorial assistant at Scientific
American Books, where she was given the task of editing some of the best
scientific minds to a kid-friendly level. When she moved to Workman, science continued to be part of her specialty. Always a fan of the television program Bill Nye the Science Guy, the author got the courage to cold-call Nye’s
show in Seattle and ask if they ever used freelance writers. Not even knowing what a spec script was, Brunelle wrote a dozen and landed a job.
“Nothing was holding me in New York, so I went to Seattle,” she says.
AT THE SHOW
Brunelle won four Emmys writing for Bill Nye, and now creates videos for
NPR’s Science Friday and is often featured on Martha Stewart’s radio network—when she is not writing kid-related books or enjoying life on Bainbridge
Island, Wash., with her husband and two young sons.
For her memoir, Mama Gone Geek: Calling on My Inner Science Nerd to
Help Navigate the Ups and Down of Parenthood (Shambhala/Roost, Oct.),
Brunelle knew she did not want to write a how-to and she definitely did not
want to sugarcoat things. “I didn’t want to come across as a know-it-all,
because I don’t know it all,” she says.
Mama Gone Geek consists of essays about different events in Brunelle’s
life—some funny, like when she showed her sons how to make a battery from
a lemon and copper pennies during a blackout. But some things were really
hard to write about, as when her husband had sepsis and nearly died, and
her mother had Alzheimer’s.
“In our culture, we hide the hard things,” says Brunelle. “But I wanted to
teach my kids that these things we go through are part of life.” One of the
essays explores the juxtaposition of her older son’s letting go of Santa at the
same time her mother’s diseased brain had her believing in him again.
Brunelle is signing today, 11: 30 a.m.–12: 30 p.m., at Table 5 in the
Autographing Area. —Bridget Kinsella
Where the Girls Are
Golden Globe winner Lena Dunham
is best known as the creator and star
of the hit HBO series Girls, where
she plays 20-something aspiring
writer Hannah Horvath. Writing is
not new to Dunham, who studied
creative writing at Oberlin College
and is a frequent contributor to the
New Yorker. Her first book, Not That
Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She Has “Learned” (Random
House, Sept.), is told with her trademark candor as she explores sex,
work, and “how to remain 10 pounds overweight eating only health
food.” She talks to Show Daily about prose as passion, the differences
between her and alter ego Hannah, and how being around book lovers is
Dunham is a speaker at the Adult Book & Author Breakfast this morning.
What was your inspiration for writing Not That Kind of Girl and why was
now the time to write it?
Prose is my first passion and I’ve always loved essays, in particular—as
a reader and a writer. I am inspired by authors from Joan Didion to David
Sedaris to Nora Ephron, and the way they explore human experience
using this elegant little form. I felt it was important to write a book now,
at the relative beginning of my career, for a couple of reasons: because of
the creative satisfaction it gives me, and to show people that prose is an
important part of what I do.
What do you want readers to learn from this book?
I consider the book a mixture of (very) personal history, social
commentary and cultural criticism. It’s as much about feminism and
growing up in the Internet age as it is about my own history. I hope that
all readers will come away with a sense that their most humiliating or
confusing experiences have a certain unsung elegance. I want it to make
people feel less alone, the way my favorite books have done for me.
How does this type of writing compare with your other artistic
endeavors, such as creating websites, feature films, and the hit HBO
With television and film, you have dozens of collaborators, dozens of
voices encouraging and questioning you. With the book, it was just a
very private relationship between my editor, Andy Ward, and myself. I
had to trust him as my entire audience, and trust myself as a writer in a
new way. There’s no “we’ll figure it out when we’re shooting the scene.”
What do you think fans of Girls might be surprised to learn in the book?
I think there is a lot of confusion on the part of the audience about
what is Hannah and what is me, and this book makes it clear we had
different childhoods, different ambitions, and different beliefs. She’s a
character and a repository for a lot of my worst instincts and fears.
People will also learn a lot about my uterus.
You have a very large social media following. Can you offer any
thoughts—good or bad—on being instantly accessible to fans?
I love my Twitter pals—they are a tough, funny bunch. Sure, I could do
without some of the more aggressive interactions, but I have truly found
a community online—and in a way I never expected. Also, I do all my
window shopping via Instagram. —Karen Jones