Aaron Zenz, author and illustrator of The HICCUPotamus, filled me in on a little secret. He is not a huge Seuss fan. He felt bad about admitting this publicly, especially because The Hiccupotamus so often gets compared to Seuss. (I, myself, did it here)
But he does LOVE nonsense!
Here's what Aaron had to say on the subject:
I don't like rhyming for rhyming's sake. I really think if a story *can* be told without rhyme, then it *should* be. But I DO love nonsense. Love it, love it, love it. I think Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky" is the best thing ever written. I had a sense of accomplishment as a kid when I memorized it -- like I had mastered a secret language. I'm drawn to nonsense. Most of the things I've written involve nonsense -- either utilizing nonsensical words or simply starting with a nonsensical premise.
"The Hiccupotamus," rhymed only because it was essential in creating the nonsense words. "There was a hippopotamus / Who hiccuped quite a-lot-amus / And every time he got'emus / He'd fall upon his bottomus." I really had no interest in telling a story about a hippo with the hiccups getting chased around by a bunch of different animals. But I was enraptured with the idea of writing a story with words like "Cementipede" and "Wellephant" and "Quickerish" and "Nightmareapy!"
Jargon has a very nonsensical feel to it. Also coming out this month is a book I illustrated called "Nugget on the Flight Deck," written by Patrica Newman. While I was not thrilled with the idea of drawing pictures of aircraft carriers and jets (not my thing), I loved the fact that the book was filled with cool naval-speak like "zero-dark-thirty," and "put on a zoombag" and "bingo to Mom" and "401 plugged and receiving." Great stuff!
I have another manuscript I'm hoping, hoping, someone green-lights soon about baby animal names. We know about puppies and kittens and cubs. But there are also great baby animal names like pinkies, squeakers, leverets, and elvers. I love that!
Also, if "Hiccupotamus" manages to do well, I have a sequel that I'm hoping someone somewhere would like to publish called "The Chimpansneeze." It's also loaded with tongue-fun nonsense words. Any publishers reading this? Any takers? Eh?
The Chimpansneeze? Sounds hilarious. If I were an editor, I'd grab it!
Okay, we have more Aaron Zenz coming tomorrow. In the meantime here is the GIVEAWAY:
One lucky winner will receive TWO SIGNED copies of The Hiccupotamus (one for you and one for a friend.) Just leave a comment on this post telling us your favorite nonsense word. Come back and leave one on tomorrow's post for a second entry. (Open to U.S. residents only)