Paul Zindel, we miss you so…

pigmanme357Cindy: Today is the anniversary of Paul Zindel’s birthday, and since someone mentioned him in our last post about books on our “shelf of shame,” I thought we should celebrate today with some of his words of wisdom. If you haven’t read The Pigman & Me, you should. It starts with this warning to his readers:

Attention any kids who may read this Book!!! Eight-hundred and fifty-three horrifying things had happened to me by the time I was a teenager. That was when I met my pigman, who real name was Nonno Frankie. Of course, some of you don’t even know what a pigman is, but I do, so it’s my duty to warn you. Sooner or later one will come your way, and what you do when you meet him will be a matter of life or death. When your own personal pigman comes, you may not recognize him at first. He may appear when you’re shooting spitballs in your history class, or taking too many free mints from the cashier’s desk at your local hamburger hangout. Your parents may even invite your pigman into your home for tea and crumpets or a tour of their waxed-wood floors. If he shakes your hand you will feel a chill, but he’ll warm you with his smile. He’ll want you to be his friend, to follow him, and in his eyes you’ll see angels and monsters. Your pigman will come to you when you need him most. He’ll make you cry but teach you the greatest secret of life.

Paul visited our school twice and became our Pigman. He enchanted our students, especially those not easily enchanted. He set off firecrackers, handed out chocolate covered ants, and dazzled the crowd with a silver briefcase full of magical jewelry. He cried when he gave his Margaret A. Edwards acceptance speech in Atlanta and sent this instruction to me via email just after his birthday in 2002 in preparation for that special ALA conference:

Dear Cindy and Rich and Kim and Kathryn, Can you believe I just got to open my birthday cards this morning! Egads, what a wonderful surprise it was to see all your kind words and the crocodile and the tongue-muscle advice — and all that grand stuff. And Kim and Kathryn, I so enjoyed reading your envelope as well and gazing on all the art work, which you may have forgotten by now. Things have been slightly dreadful for me for a month, but they’ve also been ecstatic, but I suppose that’s life. I can’t wait to see you in Atlanta. We’ll hug and jump up and down. Yes, that’s what we’ve got to promise. When we meet and wherever it is, we have to hug and jump up and down! All good wishes and huge love to y’all …
Paulissimus The Semi-Impaled

P.S. Double egads! I forgot to mention the double fab and triple maxi-brill photos of Kim and Kathryn! Kim, you look so much like your beautiful Mama — you know, like Mama a few years ago or after a very successful trip to Rio. And Kathryn, you look like Meg Ryan as a child who’s just been given a flower from someone she loves. You both look gorgeous! Hollywood or astrophysics, here we come.
Paulissimus the Wizened of Montague

Lynn and I hugged him and jumped up and down at a HarperCollins reception while people stared at us strangely. We should take his sage advice. When you see someone you care about today, hug them and jump up and down. It would please Paul very much. It appears that Paul’s son has a Paul Zindel website with a message board in case you are inclined to leave a message for the family…

Happy Birthday, Paul. We miss you.



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

7 Comments on "Paul Zindel, we miss you so…"

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  1. Revisiting: Paul Zindel « educating alice | May 16, 2009
  1.' Sue-Ellen says:

    And his son has just released audiobooks of The Pigman and The Pigman and Me. Amazingly these titles have not been released in audio prior to this. I have not heard them so cannot comment on the quality but I had the pleasure of speaking with Zindel’s son when he called Booklist to ask about submitting the titles for review. I look forward to listening and hope they are good.

  2. That is good news! Thanks for sharing, I’ll look into those. Did David Zindel do the narration?–Cindy

  3. Paul Zindel was a very, very special man. I first met him years ago when I was on a panel with him about memoir. The Pigman and Me had just come out and right before we began he told me and another panelist that we were going to do a readers’ theater bit from the book. Of course we did. It was Paul Zindel, after all. His kids had gone to my school so after the moderator introduced us, he mentioned that there had been a teacher who had totally tormented one of his kids. A former teacher was in the audience and we both charged over to Paul afterwards to see if he would tell us the name of the teacher (although we’d guessed already — the teacher who was no longer at the school was legendary).

    Not long after that he came to my classroom (I was reading aloud The Pigman and Me) and it was wonderful. I’ve been forever frustrated because he gave me a Loch Ness monster paperweight (because of his book on the same) which was stolen from my classroom that summer. But I still have the Freaky Facts Club books he gave me then. And I’ll never ever EVER forget the cockroaches.

  4.' Sue-Ellen says:

    Here is the info I copied off of our pub system as far as the readers and the ISBN number etc of the audio. The audio has been sent out for review.
    The Pigman.
    By Paul Zindel. Read by Eden Riegal and Charlie McWade.
    2009. 4.5hr. Graymalkin, CD, $34.95 (9781935169017).

  5.' Stacy says:

    Since I moved to SI, The Pigman means even more. All of those places he talks about, are in my daily life.

  6.' lawrie says:

    heu stacy – i know what you mean i moved there recently as well – small world sometimes

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