Reviews of Rick Walton’s Books

22 Jun

How Many How Many How Many

“This cleverly crafted, exuberantly illustrated counting book makes learning about numbers a joy.”

The Web Online Review

 “Children will eagerly approach learning the fundamental number concepts suggested in How Many How Many How Many.”

The Boston Globe

 “Energetic verses and action-packed pictures encourage kids to learn other facts about the months of the year, seasons, the planets and favorite nursery characters.”

The Boston Globe

 “This is one of those nifty books that works for a variety of reasons.”

Long Beach Press-Telegram

 “The book would be ideal for preschoolers, but second-grade class I read it to jumped and shouted when they knew the answers.”

Long Beach Press-Telegram

 “A multicultural troupe of 12 energetic children romp through the pages of this counting book.”

Wichita Eagle

 “The nymphlike children and animals cavort in terrific watercolor paintings that have a rhythm of their own.”

Deseret News

 “This is a sure-fire winner for children age 2 and up.”

Deseret News

 “A clever mixing of numbers and nursery rhymes through questions…”

The Sacramento Bee

 “A combination of riddles, nursery rhymes, and Trivial Pursuit gives this nifty counting book its special twist…exuberant artwork is bound to welcome budding mathematicians to these pages.”

Publishers Weekly

 “Here’s the perfect introduction to the world of arithmetic, a cheerful counting book that covers the basics in verse….Colorful scratchboard illustrations and the lively rhyme make this math fun.”

–Lynne T. Burke in the Onese Valley Parent Magazine, Sept. 1996

 Noah’s Square Dance

“evokes all the spirit of a barnyard hoedown…inventive rhymes…the final, joyful verse celebrates the end of the storm, but readers will believe that everyone had a good time waiting it out.”


 “A spirited lark aboard the Ark…a do-si-do-ing good time…the illustrations are so spirited that you’ll feel like picking a partner and forming a square dance yourself.”

The Cincinnati Herald

 “bouncy text…exuberant rhythm”

School Library Journal

 “rollicking rhymed text..toe-tapping hoedown”

Wichita Eagle

 “The verse is simply fun and the bright full-paged illustrations are happy and fun-filled.”

The Open Book, Fall ’95

 “The rain pours down while Noah, the crew and animals enjoy a western style hoedown. Illustrations place the animals in square dance poses that bring on the laughs. What else can you do when a bewildered billy goat allemandes with an imperious turkey. Background square dance music makes this a swinging rhythmical revel.”

Tips & Titles of Books

 “Anyone who thinks that the passengers on Noah’s ark just sat around waiting for the rain to stop could be tapping their toes at Noah’s Square Danceinstead. Author Rick Walton begins the call with a “do-si-do” and an “allemande left” as humans and animals circle, twirl and promenade. Colorful and lively illustrations show the dancers parading and prancing around the close quarters. This is a silly little interlude that can be read and enjoyed vicariously, or actually used as a sample square dance call to get listeners out of their chairs and stomping to the book beat. Recommended.”

Library Talk, Worthington, Ohio, Apr 1996

 “Just right for storytelling…”

–Marilou Sorensen, Deseret News, Nov. 14, 1995

 “lively picture book interpretation of how Noah and the gang might have passed those 40 nights on the ark….toe-tapping rhythm of the text mimics a square dance caller’s chant, with vibrant illustrations”

–Myla Barnhardt, Greensboro NC News & Record, Mar 3, 1996

 “Young children who know the story of Noah will enjoy the animals’ antics as this book is read to them.”

–Sandee Brawarsky, Jewish Week, Jan 19, 1996

 “The rhythm promenades through the book, setting an upbeat tone and a lively pace for reading aloud….think of this book as a child pleaser, a plucky tugboat among the elegant, three-masted schooners. As picture-book versions of Noah’s ark go, it’s a hoot.”


 What to do When a Bug Climbs in Your Mouth

“a hilarious book for young readers.”

Simi Valley Star, Jul. 6, 1995, also Oshkosh Northwestern

 “poems to drive you buggy and delight youngsters”

World News Features

 “a laugh-out-loud collection by Rick Walton, with wacky illustrations by Nancy Carlson.”

The Scoop, Spring 95

 “A delightful selection of bug poems. Walton has skillfully blended factual information, creative use of language, and a sharp sense of humor to create a book on a popular topic. Carlson’s humorous and colorful illustrations, done with marker on watercolor paper, vividly enhance the poems. Anthony, age 8, commented, ‘The poems give good information about insects in a fun way.'”

Children’s Books, p. 155.

 Once There was a Bull…frog

“clever design…amusing tale….In addition to the obvious tie with lessons on compound words, this could be used to inspire students to do some creative writing of their own.”


 “Really fun…a real surprise for children…they get to know it and they can’t wait to read it aloud to you.”

–Valerie Lewis of Lewis Reviews, on CBS This Morning, December 14, 1995

 “the story takes the reader into every nook and cranny that compound words can offer. A real page-turner.”

–Janet Hatch in The Salt Lake Tribune, August 23, 1996

 You Don’t Always Get What You Hope For

“Sooner or later, everyone learns that you don’t always get what you hope for, but even children slow to that realization will get a healthy dose of humor with Walton’s new book.”

–Nancy Hobbs in The Salt Lake Tribune, August, 1996

 “Sparks with fun, imagination, adventure…a lively tale that will no doubt entertain children who want to see what happens next. Walton…shows he’s adept at sparking the imagination with this fanciful tale….a great ending liking the parent and child.”

–Ann B. Niendorf in The Daily Herald, September 2, 1996.

 “The pictures have many absurd details that extend the humor in the narrative. Most children will appreciate this funny fantasy.”

–Anne Parker, in School Library Journal, Nov. 1996

 “A winning, high-spirited romp.”

The Kids’ Inkslinger

 “Rick Walton makes it appear effortless in this whimsical book for everyone….Walton has written a splendid antidote for anyone who thinks all experiences in life can be controlled. His plot development is as unexpected as the events he tells of. Your only valid expectation of this book is that you will experience laughter and loss of anxiety if you read it.”

The Association for Mormon Letters

 “A delightfully silly book about a boy to whom anything can happen and it all does. Great illustrations.”

Childsplay, May/June 1997

  Hoop-La, Off Base, and Take a Hike

“Demand for riddles with sports themes is always high, and these three small-size books will go a long way toward satisfying it. Basketball, baseball and football all get their due with jokes that are actually funny, especially for those who are savvy about the game.”


 “Silly series, providing hours of fun…While laughing kids will be learning finer points of the games, as well as language tricks like puns and homophones.”

South Florida Parenting

 “Whatever sport you choose in this series, it’s sure to be a hit!”

The Mecklenburg Gazette

 Take a Hike

“This riddle book will be popular…the riddles ARE funny.”



“Speaking of laughs, Rick Walton has given us a ponderous amount in his new picture and joke books.”

–Marilou Sorenson in Deseret News

 Pig Pigger Piggest

“…good-humored rewriting of “The Three Little Pigs”…definitely a funny book.”

Publisher’s Weekly, 7/14/97

 “…a charming and zany version of the familiar story….In the end, everyone is a winner.”

Children’s Book Review Service, Inc., 12/97, Vol. 26 No. 4

 “…you’ll catch on, and so will kids, as this fractured “Three Little Pigs” bounces to its happily weded conclusion….Accompanying Walton’s tilted text are Holder’s appropriately tipsy watercolors, in which the architecturally inclined little porkers bounce their jolly, if muddy, way through a backdrop of silly images and snortingly funny characterizations.”

The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

 “Relying on a wordplay of superlatives and snatches of at least three traditional tales, Walton creates a whacked-out, fractured fairytale that will bring smiles to young and old. Holder’s illustrations emphasize the superlative theme. A good choice for reading aloud. As with other fractured fairy tales, such as The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by A. Wolf (Scieszka) and The Paper Bag Princess(Munsch), this picture book could also be used effecstively with older children as a springboard for a creative writing exercise.”

–Marsha Broadway, Children’s Book and Play Review, Volume 18, Number 4, March/April 1998.

 “Talk about humor. Not only is this new version (of the Three Little Pigs story) a chuckler, but the pigs look like overweight grandpas who’ve forgotten to put in their teeth, and there’s a forever grazing horse munching away by each of the castles that seems to grow kinnier with every bite. This is a book parents will enjoy reading and children will love hearing again and again.”

–Tricia Gardella, The Union Democrat, Sonora, CA, 8/21/98.

 So Many Bunnies

“…children will enjoy guessing where each rabbits sleep….Comforting and cozy, this attractive title is a good choice for pajama storytimes.”

–Dawn Amsberry, Oakland Public Library, in School Library Journal, March 1998.

 “What better time than the Spring to discover a new child’s book about charming little creatures that has the added advantage of helping children to learn their numbers and to learn to read? Such a double bedtime reading adventure may be found in the delightful children’s book, So Many Bunnies: A Bedtime ABC and Counting Book….At $16, the book is an investment as well as part of your children’s heritage of reading.”

–D.D.M. in New York’s Entertainment Magazine, April 1998, p. 62.

 “What better way to portray the diversity of letters and the multiplicity of numbers than with a family of 26 rabbits who live in this modern rendering of a familiar nursery rhyme.”

–Nicholas A. Basbanes, The Orlando Sentinel 4/19/98, San Antonio Express News, 4/12/98.

 “Nursery traditionalists will melt with delight over this lovely bedtime BAC and counting book, wonderfully full of rabbits and sparkling with imagination. Here is a whole alphabet of adorable baby bunnies, a full 26 of them, from Abel to Zed, each of whom has his or her own favorite sleeping spot–after all, their plump, sweet mother lives in a shoe and it’s a bit crowded….Perfect for counting, learning letters and generally having fun, So Many Bunniesis in the long-loved bedtime story style.”

–Barbara Hodge Hall, The Anniston Star, 2/22/98.

 “Mother Rabbit tucks in a whole alphabet of baby bunnies from Abel through Zed. Following through her rambling house and garden is a gentle adventure for the youngest on your list. Rick Walton’s rhyming text and the beautiful watercolor paintings by Paige Miglio will make this a favorite ABC and counting book.”

–Betsy Daley, New Haven Republican-American, 4/12/98.

 “Not only is this a clever counting and ABC book, it’s a joyous celebration of family…and spring.”

–Tricia Gardella, The Sonora Union Democrat, 4/3/98.

 “A sweet rendering of the nursery rhyme about the old woman who lived in a shoe.”

–Natalie Soto, Denver Camera, 3/22/98.

 “It’s all delightful, with ravishing pictures of the darling bunnies curling up in their various bunks.”

–Ann Waldron, Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/12/98

 “This book came out just this spring and immediately hopped to the top of our list of favorite books for kids one and up….Toddlers will do the chant with you after a reading or two, and kids as old as seven will enjoy the top-hat/flowered dress-type drawings, with rabbits flopping everywhere.”

–Rose Kennedy, BabyCenter,

 “The alphabet, counting and rhyming are featured in this captivating ABC book. Pen and ink over watercolors provide rich, charming illustrations. Children will ask repeatedly for this read-to-me book.”

Dallas Child, June 1998.

 “A winning introduction to the alphabet and the numbers 1 through 26, this book also has the advantage of its sleepytime setting. Your little one will cuddle up under the covers with a head full of numbers and letters.”

–Sue Corbett, Miami Herald, 6/25/98.

Dance, Pioneer, Dance

“…whimsical poem about dancing and fun on the pioneer trail. In lyrical verse, author Rick Walton tells a story to delight both children and adults. With its catchy rhythms and unusual rhymes, it is especially fun to read aloud. Entertaining, imaginative, Dance, Pioneer, Dance! gives children a new insight into pioneer travels… Dance, Pioneer, Dance!is fun, informative, and a truly charming picturebook.”

The Midwest Book Review, December 1997.

 “…has captured the lilt and rhythm of the events after traveling on the long journey West. Brad Teare’s exuberant pictures illustrate a homespun quality of the era.”

–Marilou Sorensen, Deseret News, 4/7/98.

 “(Rick) writes in a loose rhyming pattern that lends itself to reading aloud. An exuberant crowd of kids–is there any other kind?–could have a blast re-enacting the jigs, promenades and heel-and-toe dances Walton describes.”

–Lucinda Doolittle, Idaho Statesman, 3/22/98

How I Came to Write Language Arts Picture Books

22 Jun

When I was in eighth grade, the English teacher of a friend of mine established a class contest. The winner of the contest would have lunch with BYU basketball star Kresimir Cosic. (After turning down offers from the NBA, he returned to his native Yugoslavia where he coached their Olymipc basketball team, and later became U.S. ambassador from Croatia.) The contest–to come up with as many compound words as possible.

I was a big BYU basketball fan. I made a deal with my friend. I would help him with the contest if he would get Cosic’s autograph.

I began searching for compound words. When my list was done, I had 1,500 of them, written out by hand, on a stack of paper.

It was an easy deal for me. I loved words. I loved playing with words. I loved reading words, and writing words, and studying words, and finding out interesting facts about words.

For example, I discovered that not only is the word “tang” spelled backwards “gnat”, but if you move all of the leaders of either word thirteen letters down the alphabet, you get the other word. That is not very practical information, but it fascinates me.

Some of the facts I’ve learned about words, however, have been practical and have made me an advocate of learning about words. When I was in junior high I took beginning Spanish. That was my first of dozens of Spanish classes. In high school I added French and German. In college I took French, Latin, Italian, and Portuguese. And when I finally walked away with a B.A., it was with a Spanish major and a Portuguese minor.

And it was in these classes that I learned what I had been unable to learn in my English classes–grammatical and linguistic facts about words. I learned the parts of speech. I learned the structure of sentences. I learned latin roots, suffixes and prefixes that helped my English vocabulary grow. I learned phonetics. All the way through I was learning facts about words, and loving it. And as I studied other languages, my understanding of my own language improved.

As my love of words had been developing, my love of writing with those words had also been growing, so that by the time I received my B.A. I was seriously thinking about writing as a career.

I dabbled, I tested, I explored, and after many false starts and sidetracks, I finally discovered that I could indeed make a living doing what I loved so much to do, play with words.

My first publication was an odd one–a quote in the book Murphy’s Law: Book Three –“A fool and his money are soon elected.” I was paid in kind, with books and calendars (where my quote appeared on election day), and was delighted to rationalize that, given the value of the goods I’d received, I had made more per word than Hemingway in his prime. Rationalizations like this have helped me through the trials of freelance writing.

I went a couple of years before I had any more success. I had been writing anything I could think of, much of it silly stuff involving playing with words. I knew little about breaking into the market, and had been almost randomly scattering manuscripts among the world’s publishers. Finally, after compiling a tall stack of rejections, in frustration I described in a one page query letter eight of what I considered to be my most promising manuscripts. I submitted this query to over a hundred publishers. (This is not, by the way, the best way to query. But I didn’t know any better at the time.) I soon began receiving my rejections. I was not happy, but I was not surprised.

And then came some positive news. One publisher wanted to see one of the described manuscripts. Then another publisher wanted the same. Then another, and another. Four of the publishers I’d shotgunned my queries to were at least interested in seeing what I’d written.

I sent out the requested manuscripts right away. Two of the publishers bowed out. The other two took their time. I waited, and waited. Finally, impatient, I called one of the publishers, Lerner Publications, to see if there had been any progress yet. The editor said that they were still considering my manuscript, which played on the names of dinosaurs, but asked if I would be interesting in writing riddle books.

At the time I would have been interested in writing car repair manuals, or phone books, anything to get published. I told her I would love to. We agreed on a two book contract.

My career had begun. And so easily. All I’d have to do was gather riddles from other sources and compile them into riddle books for Lerner.

And then Lerner sent me some sample books in the series. I read the riddles. They didn’t seem familiar, and they should have if they were collected, because I’d read a lot of riddle books. The thought occurred to me that maybe collecting wasn’t what Lerner had in mind.

I called my editor and asked her if she wanted the riddles to be original. She said that was what she preferred.

So I taught myself to write riddles. And all the language training helped. Because I knew about sentence structure, and about parts of speech, and about phonetics, I quickly discovered that there were formulas and rules for riddle writing. And with the help of these discovered rules, I quickly wrote two books of original riddles. I then did six more books for that series, Lerner’s Make Me Laugh series, and then wrote eight more books for a second Lerner joke book series.

I was paid a low flat fee for the riddle books, but they did help launch my writing career. Eight of the books were Reading Rainbow books and five were 1990 IRA Children’s Choice books.

In the middle of doing the books for the second series, my picture book writing career got a big boost. I had been trying to sell my picture book manuscripts to publishers for some time, with no success. Finally I decided to take another approach. I decided I needed an agent.

After shopping around, I finally found an agent who was interested in me. She very quickly sold two of my manuscripts, Noah’s Square Dance and How Many How Many How Many . And at the same time I sold Will You Still Love Me to Deseret Book. I was on my way.

While I’d been working on the riddle books I had taken a two-year detour as an elementary school teacher. This detour proved to have a huge impact on my writing career because it’s there that I became aware of the use of children’s books in the curriculum, the need for these books, and of teaching techniques that would later show up in some of my manuscripts. It was also there that I became aware of E.D. Hirsch’s book Cultural Literacy . That book was in my mind when I wrote and sold How Many How Many How Many .

How Many How Many How Many was my first clearly successful picture book. It began selling well immediately, and is still being sold in several editions today. And it reinforced in my mind my beliefs that 1) curriculum subjects can be taught through children’s books, and that 2) fun children’s books that teach curriculum topics sell well.

Will You Still Love Me came out in 1992. How Many How Many How Many , my second picture book, came out in 1993. My third picture book, What to Do When a Bug climbs in Your Mouth and Other Poems to Drive You Buggy , came out in the spring of 1995. It’s use in the science curriculum has helped to keep it in print.

In the fall of 1995 I had two picture books come out. Noah’s Square Dance , four and a half years in production, was finally released. At the same time Once There Was a Bull…frog was published by Gibbs Smith press. I was introduced to Gibbs Smith press through Dave Wolverton, a science fiction writer who was soliciting children’s manuscripts for them. I gave him a stack of manuscripts, and after the Gibbs Smith editor shuffled through them all, we settled on Bull…frog for publication. Bull…frog was not originally meant to be a compound word book. Most of the words that I used for the page-turn surprises were compound words, but I used other types of words and phrases too in the first draft. As I worked on editing the manuscript, however, the teacher in me came out, and I realized that Bull…frog was more than just a fun story. It was also a book for introducing compound words. The book was published, and very quickly teachers discovered it as a fun way of introducing compound words.

In 1996 my next book for Gibbs Smith was published, You Don’t Always Get What You Hope For . A fitting title, because in spite of a positive response, we didn’t get the sales we hoped for, and I soon realized why. It didn’t present any clear curriculum topic as Bull…frog had done.

The following year we returned to language arts concepts with Pig Pigger Piggest , which introduced adjectives, comparatives and superlatives. In 1998 came why the Banana Split , a book about synonyms and idioms. In 1999 we published Bullfrog Pops! , a book about transitive and intransitive verbs, and direct objects. Gibbs Smith and I have decided that we have a formula that works, fun picture books introducing language arts concepts, and we shouldn’t stray far from it. Current plans are to publish one such picture book every fall.

Picture books with curriculum topics have been good to me, and I’ve expanded beyond How Many and Gibbs Smith. In 1998 Lothrop published my book So Many Bunnies: A Bedtime, ABC and Counting Book . The book has been selling very well and was a 1999 IRA Children’s Choice book. A sequel, One More Bunny came out in 2000. It introduces simple addition. And it looks like the bunnies will be a series. Two more bunny books, Bunny Day, which will introduce time, and Bunnies On the Go , which will be about travel and geography, will come out in 2002 and 2003. After that we hope to have a new bunny book every year.

My first books with Putnam came out in 2000. Putnam has noticed my success with the Gibbs Smith books, and they and I have expanded on it. They had purchased the paperback rights to Once There Was a Bull…frog , and have published, so far, six of my picture book manuscripts. All of these manuscripts deal with language arts concepts. My Two Hands/My Two Feet and How Can You Dance introduce similes. That’s My Dog deals with adjectives. Little Dogs Say Rough is about animal sounds. The Bear Came Over to My House is about irregular verbs. And Cars At Play introduces metaphors.

And so my love of words and my love of writing have come together in what for me is a delightful and fun career.

And oh, I never did get Kresimir Cosic’s autograph. I’m not sure why. Maybe the teacher promised more than she could deliver. But it doesn’t matter. The delight of playing with words was the real reward.

Endorsements for Rick Walton’s Website

22 Jun
“Okay, okay. It’s not exactly the most sophisticated looking website out there. Not even close. In fact, it reminds a lot of us of our own bedrooms before our moms make us clean them up! But when it comes to the “cool” factor, this site wins hands down. No, not for design. For text content. Sound boring? It’s anything but! This guy is really funny! And we don’t mean just funny. We mean hilarious! No site made us laugh so much. Our tip to you here is to poke around this site thoroughly. Not everything is what it seems. In fact, MOST everything is NOT what it seems. We don’t want to give away any surprises, so you’ll just have to take our word for it. Go and see for yourself.”
NYC Young Writers’ Picks For Top 10 Best Sites By Authors Of Juvenile And Young Adult Literature: Rick Walton
“Stumbled across your page while looking up “worm racing”. I’m not sure what age group it is intended for, but I’m 44 and got a real kick out of it! If it were possible to spend 24 hours inside someone’s brain…I’m not sure if 24 hours inside yours would be enlightening or downright scary! Thanks for a great laugh, best of luck with whatever it is you do. “
–Susan in Australia
” I randomly typed in loku and found that page. Im a 17 year old student from england and a keen amateur poet and I haven’t laughed so much at literature in so long. the supercalifragalistic one was hilarious. Thank you for the entertainment im going back now to read the rest of your page…”
” Ah google. it sorts those words, and while looking for ‘tightening the circle over eel country’, I found your site. go fiture. now I intend to enjoy it. like finding an icecream cone behind a cactus on a very hot day.”
” Thanks for the wealth of information to go along with your books! I’ve started a notebook of children’s authors (bios, interviews, bibliographies) and have added your page. I know many children will be inspired by your writing”
“Thanks for a great site. I wrote a picture story for my godson and am trying to get it published. Though this is a foreign world to me, your sit is very encouraging.”
–Regards, Greg
“By the way, really nice website. I think its funny and cool.”
— Yasmeen in Kuwait
“I’m really bored and I saw your web site. My friends really liked your site. They especially liked the biggest button in the galaxy. Well that’s about enough, I’m sure that I have bored you plenty so bye.”
” Just have to say your Alphabet lists are amazing!!!!!!! Just happened to stumble upon your site while trying to help my girlfriend do a college homework assignment. She has to create an ABC book of Technology (Inventions). Too bad you don’t have one!!! Having trouble with “O” and “Y” Again, ABSOLUTELY amazing ABC lists! ==Thanks. I’m an obsessive compulsive writer with bizarre interests. And so I end up with weird alphabets and cartoons involving stick worms.”
“I am not quite sure how I ended up on your page but photography interests me almost as much as ghosts lol so I had a look. It was very interesting, perhaps because I find myself doing that all the time, seeing things within other things…maybe its a cloud that looks like an animal, or ernest hemingways head staring at me from an old tree stump in the backyard (hair and all lol) tho he disappeared after we had alot of rain and the stump grew. I think I liked your man in the moon one the best. Keep it up, you have a new fan of your work and a few more pieces and you could have a gallery showing.”
“Wow! I have just spent the entire afternoon browsing your site. It is a miserable day here in England, and I’ve had a miserable couple of weeks…your site has cheered me up and put me in the mood for my placement in a primary school (kids are aged 7 11). This is part of the fourth year of my degree to become a qualified teacher. So thank you very much. I have no doubt that I will use some of your books in my future classroom, and am delighted to have stumbled upon your work through looking for inspiration on synonym activities for my peers! Once again, thank you for bringing a bit of laughter (that brought my family running to see what was going on…) and inspiration to a bit of a stressed student!”
“You have a wonderful we site, just found this (the riddles) by accident. Sent this out to my daughter who lives in TN. for my 5 yr. old granddaughter.”

Rick’s Timeline

22 Jun
2006 The Remarkable Friendship of Mr. Cat and Mr. Rat Putnam (picture book)
2005 Bunny School HarperCollins (picture book)
  Cinderella CTR Halemark (picture book)
2004 Bunny Christmas HarperCollins (picture book)
  A Very Hairy Scary Story Putnam (picture book)
  Mrs. McMurphy’s Pumpkin HarperCollins (picture book)
  Suddenly, Alligator Gibbs Smith (picture book)
  Puzzle Crazy! Pleasant Company (activity book)
2003 Bunnies on the Go HarperCollins (picture book)
2002 “The African Mystery” in American Girl, September/October 2002 Pleasant Company (minute mystery)
  Bertie Was a Watchdog Walker Books and Candlewick (picture book)
  Brain Waves Pleasant Company (activity book)
  Bunny Day HarperCollins (picture book)
  “The Camel” in Cricket, February 2002 Carus (poem)
  “The Candy Thieves Mystery” in American Girl, September/October 2002 Pleasant Company (minute mystery)
  Cars At Play Putnam (picture book)
  Herd of Cows, Flock of Sheep, Quiet, I’m Tired, I Need My Sleep! Gibbs Smith (picture book)
  Quacking Up!: Wacky Jokes for Feathered Folks Walker Books (picture book)
  “Take a Hike” in American Girl, Special Issue 2002 Pleasant Company (board game)
  “The Wise Frog on the Hill” in Cricket, March 2002 Carus (poem)
2001 “Dr. Frankenswine ” in Cricket, October 2001 Carus (poem)
  “A Flash ” in Ladybug, November 2001 Carus (poem)
  “Friends Forever ” in American Girl, Special Issue 2001 Pleasant Company (board game)
  How Can You Dance? Putnam (picture book)
  “Night Sounds” in Babybug, September 2001 Carus (poem)
  That’s My Dog Putnam (picture book)
  The Bear Came Over to My House Putnam (picture book)
2000 “Ah-Choo! ” in Spider, August 2000 Carus (poem)
  Little Dogs Says “Rough!” Putnam (picture book)
  “Joke University ” in American Girl, July/August 2000 Pleasant Company (article)
  My Two Feet/My Two Hands Putnam (picture book)
  One More Bunny Lothrop, Lee, & Shephard (picture book)
  That’s What You Get Gibbs Smith (picture book)
  The Treasure Hunt Book Klutz (activity book)
1999 Bullfrog Pops! Gibbs Smith (picture book)
  “Jack Jump Over ” in Ladybug, June 1999 Carus (poem)
  Really, Really Bad Summer Jokes Candlewick (riddle book)
  Ten Pin Alley Saffire (software)
1998 Really, Really Bad School Jokes Candlewick (riddle book)
  So Many Bunnies HarperCollins (picture book)
  Why the Bananas Split Gibbs Smith (picture book)
1997 Dance, Pioneer, Dance! Deseret Book (picture book)
  “Utah Children’s Authors and Illustrators” in Utah English Journal, Volume 25:1997 Utah Council of Teachers of English/Language Arts (article)
  Pig Pigger Piggest Gibbs Smith (picture book)
1996 The Big Book of Scripture Activities Deseret Book (activity book)
  Operation GroupWise Infovision/Novell (software) co-writer/co-designer
  Richer than the Pharaoh Infovision/Emerald (software) co-writer/co-designer
  You Don’t Always Get What You Hope For Gibbs Smith (picture book)
1995 Astro-Nuts! Riddles about astronauts and the planets they love Buckaroo Books (riddle book)
  Bone WordPerfect (electronic picture book)
  Dino-might!: Pre-hysterical dinosaur riddles Buckaroo Books (riddle book)
  The Ghost Is Clear: Riddles about ghosts, vampires, witches, and other creatures Buckaroo Books (riddle book)
  “Make Up a Joke ” in Boy’s Life Boy Scouts of America (article)
  Noah’s Square Dance Lothrop, Lee & Shepard (picture book)
  Once There Was a Bull…frog Gibbs Smith (picture book)
  What to Do When a Bug Climbs in Your Mouth and Other Poems to Drive You Buggy! Lothrop, Lee & Shepard (picture book)
  Wholly Cowboy!: Cowboy, cow, and horse riddles Buckaroo Books (riddle book)
1994 Riddle-day Saints Deseret Book (riddle book)
1993 Hoop-la: Riddles about Basketball Lerner (riddle book)
  How Many How Many How Many Candlewick (picture book)
  Off Base: Riddles about Baseball Lerner (riddle book)
  Take a Hike: Riddles about Football Lerner (riddle book)
1992 “My Two Feet ” in Ladybug, June 1992 Carus (poem)
  Will You Still Love Me? Deseret Book (picture book)
1991 Alphabatty: Riddles from A to Z Lerner (riddle book)
  Ho-ho-ho!: Riddles about Santa Claus Lerner (riddle book)
  I Toad You So: Riddles about Frogs and Toads Lerner (riddle book)
1990 On with the Show: Show Me Riddles Lerner (riddle book)
  Weather or Not: Riddles for Rain or Shine Lerner (riddle book)
1989 Can You Match This?: jokes about unlikely pairs Lerner (riddle book)
  Clowning Around!: jokes about the circus Lerner (riddle book)
  Fossil Follies!: jokes about dinosaurs Lerner (riddle book)
  Kiss a Frog!: jokes about fairy tales, knights, and dragons Lerner (riddle book)
  What a Ham!: jokes about pigs Lerner (riddle book)
1988 What’s Your Name, Again?: more jokes about names Lerner (riddle book)
1987 Dumb Clucks!: jokes about chickens Lerner (riddle book)
  Something’s Fishy!: jokes about sea creatures Lerner (riddle book)

Questions Kids Ask Rick

10 Jun

I talk to lots of groups of kids, and whenever I talk the kids have lots and lots of questions they want to ask me. This leads to serious problems. When hundreds of kids put their hands in the air, I can’t get to them all. After some time the blood leave the children’s hands, and then fingers fall off. And then the principal, teachers and I have to go around and pick up all those fingers and figure out who they belong to and glue them back on. It takes a long time and the kids miss their lunch, which makes them grumpy. And then they can’t do their homework for at least three or four days and that makes the teachers mad. These questions are in no particular order because kids don’t ask their questions in any particular order.

Q: Why do you write?

A: Because…
…I love the creative process.
…I like playing with words.
…Writing lets me pretend to be someone else.
…I want to leave as much of value as I can when I’m gone.
…I like reading my stories to my kids.
…I like to belong to writers groups.
…I like something I’ve done to add to the lives of others.
…I like to communicate what I believe about life.
…I like to see my name in print.
…I’ve tried every other career, and this is the only one left.

Q: All that?

A: And more–I write for the same reason I eat. Because I’d die if I didn’t. It’s an obsession.

Q: Why do you like to write for children?

A: Children’s literature is incredibly varied. I like to write for children because I can write about anything in almost any fashion. I can be more inventive in writing for children than I can in writing for any other audience.

Q: What’s your social security number?

A: None of your business.

Q: What’s your bank account number?

A: None of your business. Come to think of it, it’s hardly any of my own business either, since I doubt there’s anything in my bank account.

Q: What should good children’s literature do?

A: First it should delight, and second, teach. If literature for children attempts to teach without being delightful, it will fail.

Q: Where do you get your ideas?

A: Absolutely everything is a source of ideas. For example, your shoes are giving me an idea for a book right now.

Q: How much money do you make?

A: Not nearly enough.

Q: How many books have you written?

A: Several hundred. How many have I had published however? See my bibliography.

Q: Will you take me to Disneyland?

A: If you pay all of the expenses.

Q: Have you ever met any famous people?

A: Lots of them.
  1. Escorted Aaron Copeland for a day when he was performing with the National Symphony Orchestra. I got carsick in the limo (but I didn’t throw up!)
  2. Got lost driving Frankie Avalon to the airport.
  3. Ran out the car battery while waiting to pick up Maxim and Dmitri Shostakovich not long after they’d defected from the Soviet Union.
  4. Met Mario Andretti’s cousin in southern Brasil (at least the guy SAID he was Mario Andretti’s cousin).
  5. Got run off the road by some of Robert Redford’s employees.
  6. Had lunch with Eldredge Cleaver.
  7. Was in a Sunday School class with a teenage Donny Osmond.
  8. Sat in back of Steve Young at McDonald’s. He had a picture of himself on his t-shirt.

Q: How long does it take you to write a book?

A: Some books take me an hour to write. Some books take me several days. Some take me several weeks. It depends on how long the book is, how well the book is developed in my mind, and how much research I have to do for the book.

Q: How old do you have to be to get a book published?

A: How old are you? That’s old enough.

Q: Do you have any kids?

A: Five. So far. I’m hoping that at least one of them will be able to support me in my old age–which should be here any minute now.

Q: Will you buy me a new bike?

A: If you’ll buy me a new car.

Q: Is writing fun?

A: For me it is. For others, plumbing might be fun. I hope it is. I have some pipes that need fixing and I hope my plumber enjoys himself, because the job isn’t going to be easy.

Q: What do you hate most about writing?

A: Deadlines. And not knowing how much money I’m going to get, or when it’s coming.

Q: What would you be if you weren’t a writer?

A: A tour guide, or a songwriter, or a presidential adviser, or if Harold II hadn’t lost the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and the right 100,000 people had died in the right order–King of England.

Q: What jobs have you had?

A: Yard worker, copy center clerk, dishwasher, cook in a Mexican restaurant, secretary, arts administrator, research assistant, technical editor, school teacher, educational software designer.

Q: Tell us a joke.

A: That’s not a question. That’s a command.

Q: Would you please tell us a joke?

A: Okay.
Q: Who’s the father of popcorn?

A: I don’t know, who?

Q: The Popcorn Poppa! Oh, you wanted a GOOD joke! Next time make that more clear.

Q: Were you a good student?

A: Was I a good student? Was I a good student? Well, I don’t want to brag or anything, but I was a pretty good student.

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?

A: A kid. (Yes, I do things backward.)

Q: What’s your favorite book you’ve written?

A: All of them! (It’s like asking “What’s my favorite kid?”) Okay, I admit, I do have some books I like better than others, but I’m not telling you which. I’m more interested in what’s YOUR favorite book I’ve written.

Q: What’s your favorite book you’ve read?

A: I don’t have one favorite book. When I was a kid I read every funny book and every mystery series I could find. Now I read all kinds of books, but my favorite are funny books, the funnier and weirder the better. I like Roald Dahl, Daniel Pinkwater, Babette Cole, John Scieska, Dave Barry, Patrick McManus, David Wiesner, E. Nesbit, and anything you’ve written.

Q: When did you start writing?

A: When I was a kid I did some writing just for fun. Mostly really silly stuff. But I decided I wanted to be a professional writer when I was in my early twenties.

And now, if you have any more questions for me, click on e-mail Rick Walton . If it’s a question I think a lot of people might want answered, I’ll add it to this question list.

Questions Kids Never Ask Rick (But They Ought To)

10 Jun

Q: What’s your strategy when you play the game of RISK?

A: I stockpile all my armies in Australia, have barbecues and lie on the beach while the rest of the world fights it out.

Q: What’s your favorite Monopoly piece?

A: The race car. Somehow I feel that if I’m the race car I’ll move around the board faster and collect my $200 more often.

Q: Have you ever seen a UFO?

A: No. (That’s what they told me to say!)

Q: Why do you have so many spider plants growing in your house?

A: Because they’re almost impossible to kill. I like that in a plant.

Q: Why do you have so many weeds growing in your yard?

A: Because they’re almost impossible to kill. I hate that in a plant.

Q: Have you ever had a weird address experience?

A: Oh yes. When I was fourteen we moved from house number 1650 in one city to house number 1560 in another city. Spooky!

Q: Have you ever won anything?

A: When I was twelve I won a baseball at a Little League party. When I was thirteen I won a bat at a Little League party. The next year I was out of Little League, and I haven’t won anything since.

Q: You live next to several of the best ski resorts in the country, yet have never been skiing. Why?

A: Because if I went skiing I would either like it or I wouldn’t. If I liked it I’d be frustrated because I couldn’t afford to go more often. If I didn’t like it I’d wish I hadn’t gone. So to keep myself happy, I don’t go skiing.

Q: You say your first name is Rick, but what is it really?

A: Eric.

Q: Who did your parents name you after?

A: My father, who lived in Sweden for a couple of years, named me after Eric the Mad, a horrible, brutal old king of Sweden. At least that’s what Dad says.

Q: What were you almost named?

A: I was born on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. My grandfather’s name was Otto Abraham. I was almost named Abraham. But my mother, on the day I was born, cried to my father, “PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME NAME HIM ABRAHAM!” My father, for the sake of the marriage, did not make my mother name me Abraham (although to all you Abrahams out there, including my cousin Abe, I think it’s a perfectly fine name and would have worn it proudly).

Q: What’s the weirdest animal experience you had as a child?

A: I frequently helped our neighbor two doors away look for his pet wolf when it got out.

Q: What do you know about science?

A: Nothing. But Mr. Science Wiseguy , he knows everything.

Q: Have you ever worked on a presidential campaign? Yes I have! I was Dave Barry’s 1992 Utah campaign chairman.

Q: If you had all the money in the world, what would you do with it?

A: Probably burn it to keep warm. If I had all the money, then the world would have to be using some other form of exchange, so my money would be worthless.

Q: Why do you plan to stop having kids after 42?

A: Because 43’s just too many.

Q: What political office would you like to hold?

A: I would like to be appointed to the office of “Unnamed Whitehouse Source”.

Q: How long do you sleep at night?

A: 5’11”.

Q: How did you get rid of a swarm of bees in your yard?

A: I vacuumed them up. Those were some mighty angry bees.

Q: How do you get a swarm of angry bees out of your vacuum cleaner?

A: I don’t know. If you have any suggestions, send them to me.

Q: What do you like to play on your guitar?

A: Basketball.

Q: Why do you take naps every day?

A: Because no one will give them to me.

Pics of Rick

9 Jun

Current Publicity Photo

Me and the Ivy

Me when I was a lean, mean, banjo pluckin’ machine.

My Gaucho days.

Jobs I’ve Had

9 Jun

A teacher.

I taught in this very schoolhouse.  750 kids in one room!

An elevator operator

in a building with no top floor.

A naval captain.

Here is my crew preparing to go into battle.

My Relatives

9 Jun

My great-uncle Ernie.

And yes, he’s a goblin.

Great-Uncle Loonie.

Works nights as the Man in the Moon

Great-Uncle Alfred, the famous movie director.

Shhh, he’s sleeping.

Friends of Mine

9 Jun

Ronald is a big fan.

His favorite book of mine?  You Don’t Always Get What You Hope For.  He wishes someone would come into his restaurant and order a trillion hamburgers!

Tigger is a fan too.

But he thinks that Pig Pigger Piggest should have been Tig Tigger Tiggest.