One-Minute Book Reviews

April 11, 2008

Michael Dirda on Daniel Pinkwater’s ‘Sure-Fire Winners’ for Children

Filed under: Children's Books — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 8:23 pm
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Michael Dirda is America’s best critic of books for children. He is also one of its best critics of books of any kind. Dirda won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism as a writer for the Washington Post and is the author of five books, including Classics for Pleasure (Harcourt, 2007). He writes about Daniel Pinkwater in these excerpts from a list of “sure-fire winners” for children in his Readings: Essays & Literary Entertainments (Indiana University Press, 2000), a collection of his work for the Post:

The Big Orange Splot (Scholastic, 32 pp., $4.99, paperback, ages 2 and up): “What Ferdinand is to nonviolence, this book is to nonconformity. When a seagull drops a bucket of paint on an ordinary house, Mr. Plumbean is led to create the home of his dreams – to the consternation of his neighbors.”

Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars (Dutton, 248 pp., varied prices and editions, ages 8 and up). “If I could have written any children’s book in the world, this is the one I would choose. Two misfit kids wander into a rundown part of town, purchase the Klugarsh mind-control system from a mysterious shopkeeper, and then embark on a series of hilarious and surprising adventures. Boyhood dreams come true … Almost as good: The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death.”

Visit the Michael Dirda archive at the Washington Post at

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.


  1. Thanks for the heads-up on these books. I’m so glad one does not have to be a child (in age anyway) to read and, obviously, enjoy them; not to mention, probably learn something!

    Comment by ggelliott — April 12, 2008 @ 4:54 pm | Reply

  2. You’re very welcome. Pinkwater is an author by children whom I’ve always wanted to read. Hope I’ll get to him soon.

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — April 12, 2008 @ 6:51 pm | Reply

  3. As I face several weeks of writing technical manuals, what could be better than to get lost in children’s lit? Surely I can talk my husband into date night at the bookstore – I’ll buy.
    I must investigate THE BIG ORANGE SPLOT. There’s a book who got me with the cover…and the idea.

    Comment by oh — April 12, 2008 @ 8:12 pm | Reply

  4. If I have a second childhood, I’d like to spend a lot of it in the children’s section of a bookstore. Sounds like you might like to spend part of yours there, too …

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — April 12, 2008 @ 11:37 pm | Reply

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