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Joseph A. Gervasi interviews illustrator and writer Greg Pizzoli. Greg is the author of several acclaimed books for children including: The Watermelon Seed (winner of the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award), Templeton Gets His Wish, Tricky Vic, Number One Sam, Good Night Owl, and The Quest For Z. His books are published by Viking Children’s Books (a division of Penguin) and Disney Hyperion. Greg also comes from punk, which has influenced his work in many ways. Greg finds himself in a unique position: writing books that are read and loved by scores of children around the world. With the attention comes a responsibility, though he deftly avoids using his work to moralize to his readers. Greg speaks at schools about forty times a year and uses his ability to communicate with the kids without condescension to encourage creativity. We talk about Greg’s early influences in music and books and how those works shaped him into the writer he is today. Perhaps most crucially, we talk about spreading empathy in dark times. Greg is in a unique position to be able to communicate to the kids who are the future, and what he says about them (and, I’d add, what he helps to foster in them) is an encouraging sign that we’re all looking for and rejoice in seeing. Some seeds one swallows — inadvertently or with intention — when young grow into trees of great and lasting beauty.
Photos by Karen Kirchhoff