Pilkey, Dav 1966-(Sue Denim)
PILKEY, Dav 1966-(Sue Denim)
PERSONAL: First name is pronounced "dave"; born March 4, 1966, in Cleveland, OH; son of David M. (a sales manager) and Barbara (an organist; maiden name, Pembridge) Pilkey. Education: Kent State University. A.A., 1987.
ADDRESSES: Home—Eugene, OR. Agent—Amy Berkower, Writer's House, 21 West 26th St., New York, NY, 10010.
CAREER: Freelance writer and illustrator, 1986—.
AWARDS, HONORS: Cuffie Award for Funniest Book of the Year, Publishers Weekly, for The Adventures of Captain Underpants; Kent State University, National Written and Illustrated By. . . Award; California Young Readers Medal, for Dog Breath; Children's Choice Awards, International Reading Association-Children's Book Council, for "Dumb Bunnies" books; Caldecott Medal Honor Book, American Library Association, 1997, for The Paperboy.
CHILDREN'S BOOKS; SELF-ILLUSTRATED
World War Won, Landmark Editions (Kansas City, MO), 1987.
'Twas the Night before Thanksgiving, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1990.
When Cats Dream, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1992.
Kat Kong: Starring Flash, Rabies, and Dwayne and Introducing Blueberry As the Monster, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1993.
Dogzilla: Starring Flash, Rabies, Dwayne, and Introducing Leia As the Monster, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1993.
(Under pseudonym Sue Denim) The Dumb Bunnies, Blue Sky Press (New York, NY), 1994.
Dog Breath!: The Horrible Terrible Trouble with Hally Tosis, Blue Sky Press (New York, NY), 1994.
(Under pseudonym Sue Denim) The Dumb Bunnies' Easter, Blue Sky Press (New York, NY), 1995.
The Hallo-Wiener, Blue Sky Press (New York, NY), 1995.
The Moonglow Roll-o-Rama, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1995.
(Under pseudonym Sue Denim) Make Way for Dumb Bunnies, Blue Sky Press (New York, NY), 1996.
God Bless the Gargoyles, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1996.
The Paperboy, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1996.
The Silly Gooses, Blue Sky Press (New York, NY), 1997.
(Under pseudonym Sue Denim) The Dumb Bunnies Go to the Zoo, Blue Sky Press (New York, NY), 1997.
The Silly Gooses Build a House, Blue Sky Press (New York, NY), 1998.
'Twas the Night before Christmas Two: The Wrath of Mrs. Claus, Blue Sky Press (New York, NY), 1998.
The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby: The First Graphic Novel by George Beard and Harold Hutchkins, Blue Sky Press (New York, NY), 2002.
"DRAGON" SERIES; SELF-ILLUSTRATED
A Friend for Dragon, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1991.
Dragon Gets By, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1991.
Dragon's Merry Christmas, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1991.
Dragon's Fat Cat, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1992.
Dragon's Halloween, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1993.
"CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS" SERIES; SELF-ILLUSTRATED
The Adventures of Captain Underpants, Blue Sky Press (New York, NY), 1997.
Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets, Blue Sky Press (New York, NY), 1999.
Captain Underpants and the Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies from Outer Space, Blue Sky Press (New York, NY), 1999.
Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants, Blue Sky Press (New York, NY), 2000.
Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman, Blue Sky Press (New York, NY), 2001.
Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, Part 1: The Night of the Nasty Nostril Nuggets, Blue Sky Press (New York, NY), 2003.
Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, Part 2: Revenge of the Ridiculous Robo-boogers, Blue Sky Press (New York, NY), 2003.
"BIG DOG AND LITTLE DOG" SERIES; SELF-ILLUSTRATED
Big Dog and Little Dog, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1997.
Big Dog and Little Dog Getting in Trouble, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1997.
Big Dog and Little Dog Going for a Walk, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1997.
Big Dog and Little Dog Wearing Sweaters, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1998.
Big Dog and Little Dog Guarding the Picnic, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1998.
Big Dog and Little Dog Making a Mistake, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1999.
The Complete Adventures of Big Dog and Little Dog,, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2003.
"RICKY RICOTTA" SERIES; ILLUSTRATED BY MARTIN ONTIVEROS
Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot: An Epic Novel, Blue Sky Press (New York, NY), 2000.
Ricky Ricotta's Giant Robot vs. the Mutant Mosquitos from Mercury: The Second Robot Adventure Novel, Blue Sky Press (New York, NY), 2000.
Ricky Ricotta's Giant Robot vs. the Voodoo Vultures from Venus: The Third Adventure Novel, Blue Sky Press (New York, NY), 2001.
Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot vs. the Mecha-Monkeys from Mars, Blue Sky Press (New York, NY), 2002.
Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot vs. the Jurassic Jackrabbits from Jupiter: The Fifth Robot Adventure Novel, Blue Sky Press (New York, NY), 2002.
Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot vs. Stupid Stinkbugs from Saturn, Blue Sky Press (New York, NY), 2003.
Adolph J. Moser, Don't Pop Your Cork on Mondays!: The Children's Anti-Stress Book, Landmark Editions (Kansas City, MO), 1988.
Jerry Segal, The Place Where Nobody Stopped, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1991.
Angela Johnson, Julius, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1993.
SIDELIGHTS: A highly regarded and popular author and illustrator of children's books, Dav Pilkey combines lowbrow humor and broad parodies with a subtle moral often thrown into the mix. Among his popular books are those from the "Dragon," "Captain Underpants," and "Big Dog and Little Dog" series. His individual creations have also garnered high praise, including The Paperboy, which was named a Caldecott Medal Honor Book.
Pilkey's irreverent and antiauthoritarian outlook on life began when he was in grade school, where his fellow students enjoyed his antics as a class clown and his teachers watched him closely, believing that he needed a serious attitude adjustment. The fidgety and disruptive Pilkey was eventually diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. The diagnosis, however, did little to change Pilkey's humorous take on life or his penchant for drawing and making up stories. Often his teachers would send him out to the hallway, where he even had a desk to sit at and draw. One of his creations would eventually be featured in his immensely popular future series of children's books about "Captain Underpants." In an interview in Time magazine, Pilkey commented on the appeal of the character: "I think kids feel trapped just by being kids. You can't do anything when you're a kid. Adults are always trying to spoil your fun and making you follow dumb orders. So, I think kids are drawn to these books because the main characters, George and Harold, get away with so much. They're always having great adventures, and the adults can't stop them. It's great escapism."
Pilkey's talents were discovered by the publishing industry early on when, as an art student at Kent State University, he won the National Written and Illustrated By . . . Award for students. Soon he found himself on a plane to Kansas City, Missouri, to meet the publishers of Landmark Editions, which would publish his prize-winning book World War Won. "It was the most exciting time in my life," Pilkey recalled on his personal Web site. "I'll never forget getting off the plane in Kansas City and meeting my new publisher for the first time. I tried to act normal, but I was so excited. It took every bit of self-control I had not to scream, jump up and down, and laugh hysterically. . . . I was going to be an author!"
Since then, Pilkey has illustrated and/or written approximately fifty books for children. Commenting on Pilkey in Something about the Author, contributor Gerard J. Senick noted that Pilkey "favors straightforward but lively narratives that are filled with wordplay" and that his artwork ranges "from campy cartoons in bold fluorescent colors to sumptuous, detailed paintings in muted tones." In his "Dragon" series, Pilkey tells of a lovable but zany dragon and his many adventures. For example, in Dragon Gets By, nothing turns out right for Dragon, like his breakfast disaster of reading the egg and frying the paper. Writing in Publishers Weekly, reviewers Elizabeth Devereaux and Kit Alderdice called the series hero "affability incarnate."
Pilkey's popular "Captain Underpants" series probably best reveals the irreverent psyche of young Pilkey back in grade school, where he first created the character. The book features the kind of bathroom humor that appeals to young readers as the hero runs around in his underpants having various adventures from run-ins with the wicked school principal to alien cafeteria ladies who serve the schoolchildren lunches that turn them into zombie-like nerds. The books are interactive, and readers can flip the pages to see moving characters. There are also lessons on drawing cartoons. The books have also caused concern among some adults and were even banned from an elementary school in Connecticut. A writer for the Dallas Morning News reported the principal's explanation for banning the books: "The boys started getting whooped up at Captain Underpants, saying things like 'You're in your underpants.' The book was beginning to take on a life of its own." Nevertheless, the popularity of the series has been widespread, with more than 12.5 million "Captain Underpants" books in print. Writing in Publishers Weekly, a reviewer noted, "Those with a limited tolerance for the silly need not apply to the Captain Underpants fan club, yet its legion members will plunge happily into his latest bumbling adventure."
Pilkey's award-winning book The Paperboy presents a more sedate take on life than many of his more boisterous stories and heroes. In it, Pilkey tells the tale of a young boy who delivers papers every morning with his trusty dog by his side. The text and illustrations provide details about the process of delivering papers combined with the tale of how a boy and his dog live their lives. Mary M. Burns of Horn Book commented on Pilkey's "lyrical combination of text and pictures" as a "meditative evocation of the extraordinary aspects of ordinary living." Carolyn Phelan, writing in Booklist, noted that "the book's acrylic paintings include beautifully composed landscapes and interiors, ending with a Chagall-like dream scene on the last page."
Another of Pilkey's creations is Ricky Ricotta, a timid mouse who teams up with a robot to battle various forces of evil like vultures from the planet Venus who use a voodoo ray to hypnotize people through their televisions or mechanized monkeys from Mars who plan to swarm over the earth. In an unusual move for Pilkey, the books, which also feature "Flip-o-Rama" animation and cartoon lessons, are illustrated by Martin Ontiveros instead of Pilkey himself. Commenting in an interview on the Scholastic Web site, Pilkey said that he wanted to work with another illustrator because, even though he knew in his head what the illustrations should look like, he believed he needed a more suitable artist to do the illustrations. "My line-work is too loose, and I have very little experience with action scenes," said Pilkey. He chose Ontiveros for the work because he "thought Martin's style would be perfect" for the series. The collaboration has garnered the praise of many critics. Writing a review for the School Library Journal, Anne Connor noted, "In an accessible, highly illustrated format, Pilkey writes an adventure story with great appeal to lonely little guys everywhere."
Pilkey once commented to CA: "When I really got serious about writing children's books, I began reading everything I could by my favorite writers, Arnold Lobel, Cynthia Rylant, James Marshall, and Harry Allard. I read Frog and Toad, Henry and Mudge, George and Martha, and The Stupids over and over again, until I started to pick up rhythms and recognize patterns. Soon I began to see what really worked in these books—what made them great pieces of literature.
"One of my biggest inspirations as an illustrator is the drawings of children. Children often send me pictures that they've drawn, and I'm always amazed at the way they present shape and color. Children are natural impressionists. They're not afraid to make their trees purple and yellow, and it's okay if the sky is green with red stripes. A horse can be as tall as a building with seven fingers on each hoof—when children are drawing, anything goes! Of course you know that one day an art teacher is going to grab a hold of these kids and turn them all into accountants, but while they are still fresh and naive, children can create some of the liveliest and most beautiful art there is."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Children's Literature Review, Volume 48, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1998.
Something about the Author, Volume 115, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2000.
Booklist, March 1, 1996, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Paperboy.
Dallas Morning News, April 4, 2000, p. 1C.
Horn Book, July-August, 1996, Mary M. Burns, review of The Paperboy.
Publishers Weekly, September 20, 1993, Elizabeth Devereaux and Kit Alderdice, review of Dragon's Halloween; July 19, 1999, review of Captain Underpants and the Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies from Outer Space, p. 195.
School Library Journal, April, 2000, Anne Connor, review of Ricky Ricotta's Giant Robot.
Time, August 27, 2001, "A Hero In Briefs," brief interview with Dav Pilkey.
BookPage,http://www.bookpage.com/ (October 8, 2002), "Meet the Author: Dav Pilkey."
Dav Pilkey Home Page,http://www.pilkey.com/ (October 8, 2002).
Scholastic,http://www.scholastic.com/ (October 8, 2002), "Q & A with Dav Pilkey.*"