Pirate & Penguin by Mike Allegra
ABOUT THE BOOK
What happens when a pirate, hoping for a parrot, stumbles upon a bird of a duller plumage?
Pirate doesn’t know that Penguin is a penguin. But any bird can sit on a shoulder and squawk “shiver me timbers”…right?
Laugh along with Pirate and Penguin in this high seas tale of mistaken identity and find out whether they’ll find friendship before somebody walks the plank.
Where did the idea for Pirate & Penguin come from?
Pirate & Penguin came about because I had always wanted to write an all-dialogue picture book and, well, pirate-speak is the funniest kind of dialogue there is.
The big question I had for myself was who would my pirate talk to? A pirate talking to another pirate seemed like too much of a good thing. I’ve seen a bunch of books where pirates interacted with kids, so that was out. And a pirate talking to a parrot seemed a bit too cliché.
I wanted my pairing to be weird and unexpected, so I started playing around with parrot substitutes. I briefly contemplated a flamingo and a dodo before settling on a penguin (which is pretty much the opposite of a parrot and, therefore, perfect).
Once I finally figured out my dynamic duo, the jokes roared in like a tidal wave. Seriously, I had too much comic material to work with. It was a blast!
When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve wanted to tell stories for as long as I can remember, but I think what made me really want to be a writer was when I was six; that was the year I discovered my dad’s electric typewriter. And what a discovery it was! Not only could I tell stories, but also, I could make a lot of noise while doing so! (Six-year-old me liked making noise almost as much as I liked telling stories.)
If you were not an author, what job would you want?
Probably a bookseller. If I couldn’t write, at least I could regularly read the writings of others.
What do you love most about writing children’s books?
Writing for kids is wonderful, as it gives me an opportunity to explore the silly side of my creative spirit. Would a publisher ever want an adult novel featuring a guinea pig the size of a mastodon? Or a dragon who likes to knit booties? Or a capybara who cuddles a caiman? Or a tooth fairy with dentures made from piano keys?
But I wrote about all those things in my children’s books—and it was so much fun! And, more importantly, my readers have fun, too!
Do you have any pets?
I do. I have two gerbils named Dusty and Oreo. I’ve had many gerbils over the years. Gerbils are great pets. They’re adorable, playful, curious, and whip smart.
That said, Dusty and Oreo are, without question, the dumbest gerbils I’ve ever met. They have this daily habit of burying their food bowl and forgetting that it exists. They just sit there, hungry, wondering if I’ll ever feed them again. When I dig out their bowl, they are elated by the new discovery and happily gorge themselves. Five minutes later, however, the bowl is buried again. Five minutes after that, they forget the food bowl exists.
It's a bit maddening. But, oh, how I love them.
Do you receive emails or letters from your readers? If so, what one was the most memorable?
I don’t get too many letters or emails from readers. Once, however, I received a drawing from a young fan—a picture of a farting frog. It was a peculiar gift, but not an unwelcome one.
What are some of your favorite hobbies?
I love to masochistically labor over Friday’s New York Times crossword puzzle. I also like Sudoku. I’ll doodle cartoons whenever a piece of blank paper is put in front of me. I’m an avid reader and am obsessed with movies.
More recently I’ve been getting into gardening, but that might just be a phase.
What recommendations do you have for aspiring authors?
The best advice I can give an aspiring author is: Don’t give up!
Anybody who pursues a career in writing needs to cultivate a very thick skin. Rejections are constant. Despite anyone’s best efforts, you can’t avoid rejection; all you can do is develop a healthy way to deal with it.
I see a lot of aspiring writers take rejections personally, but they shouldn’t. A rejection doesn’t mean your work sucks, it can often mean that your work just wasn’t the right project for this particular reader at this particular point in time.
Before I got my first book contract, I received 114 rejections. If I had given up at any point during that painful, years-long wave of unbridled negativity, I wouldn’t have any books out today.
Next year I’ll publish my 18th book—but I still get rejections. Lots of them!
So stick it out! Keep writing. Keep improving. Keep submitting.
I’m rooting for you.
Enter for the chance to win a three-book prize pack, including Pirate & Penguin!
One (1) grand prize winner receives:
A hardcover copy of Pirate & Penguin
A hardcover copy of Sleepy Happy Capy Cuddles
A hardcover copy of Hornswoggled
Four (4) winners receive:
A hardcover copy of Pirate & Penguin
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Allegra sailed into uncharted writing waters to create an all-dialogue story with an unexpected pirate character: a little dotty, well-meaning, and unusually patient (anyone would snap if a penguin trashed their ship and spit out their cracker). He’s written a number of other books for children, including Sleepy Happy Capy Cuddles (Page Street Kids) and Scampers Thinks Like a Scientist (Sourcebooks). He also works as an editor and a creative writing teacher.
Visit his website at www.mikeallegra.com and say, "Ahoy"
ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR
Jenn Harney had a blast creating the art for this story because who doesn’t love pirates and penguins? Together at last! She’s illustrated many other children’s books, including Hornswoggled! (Page Street Kids), and even authored a couple as well. She lives in Ohio with her family and their corgi named Steve.
Visit her online at www.jkharney.blogspot.com.