Daniel Pinkwater is an American author of children's books. His books have a number of recurring themes, including:
- Low-to-moderate-key Planet Eris settings, often with a dash of Aliens in Cardiff.
- Eastern mysticism
- Food as an important plot element
- Dimensional travel
- Overweight protagonists
- Adults Are Useless, or possibly actually insane
He tries to use a different version of his name--such as D. Manus Pinkwater, Daniel M. Pinkwater, D. Pinkwater, and so on--on every book he writes, allegedly to annoy librarians.
He was a important component of the radio show Chinwag Theater for a while, being that his books were read and he was the one who read them. He also reads children's books on NPR with Saturday Morning Edition anchor Scott Simon. Sometimes he calls in to Car Talk to expound on a car-related topic with Click and Clack.
His books, and their tropes, include:
Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars: Two middle-school boys become psychically enlightened and travel to an alternate plane of existence.
- Badass Normal: Even before he becomes psychic Alan can do the Missile Whistle, a whistle capable of stunning/distracting people from long range.
- Bigger Is Better: The larger the focusing device, the more powerful psychic abilities become. Leonard tries wearing a bunch of rabbit ears, and nearly smashes a brick through a concrete wall.
- Cassandra Truth: Alan tells everyone in school he's from Mars. Half the students believe him, and half the students don't. Then the two halves start fighting and Alan gets suspended.
- Chekhov's Skill: the Nafsulian gesture of irrevocable surrender is removing your hat and rubbing your belly at the same time.
- The Dragon: The Wozzle, in an invisible predator that harasses the people of Waka-Waka on behalf of the Nafsulians. Is actually Manny, Moe, and Jack after plane shifting.
- Mind Over Matter: One of the psychic powers the boys obtain, but requires a Magic Wand.
- Narrating the Present: the book Alan and Leonard buy a book on Hypersteller Archeology which mentions them by name buying and reading the book. They don't know about this until they're well into reading it.
- Uncoffee: Fleegix.
- You Were Trying Too Hard: the first time the protagonists activate the omega-wave meter.
Borgel: The protagonist and his many-times-great uncle Borgel go on an interdimensional tourist trip, and meet a godlike popsicle.
- Fire and Brimstone Hell: Literally The Theme Park Version.
- My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels
- The Old Country: Where Borgel comes from. It's also in Another Dimension.
- Punctuation Shaker: Pak Nfbnm*, aka Freddy.
- Spoof Aesop: In Borgel's stories.
- The Unpronounceable: Borgel's real last name sounds nothing like MacTavish, but even less like anything else.
Fat Men From Space: Earth is invaded by aliens who look like fat men, and steal all the junk food on the planet.
- ISophagus: The main character has a dental filling that acts as a radio receiver.
Lizard Music: Victor's off on his own after his parents go on vacation, leaving him with his mostly absent big sister. He's got a love of midnight bad movie hour, but one night, instead of the usual mockable serials from the 50s, he sees a blurry shot of... lizards playing music. Joining up with a black hobo who talks to his hen, they set off to get to the source of the broadcasts: an invisible island populated by sentient lizards that's somewhere off the coast near Hogboro.
- Black Best Friend: The narrator's newfound friend, and the other main character, is a black hobo.
- Cloudcuckooland: Lizard island.
- Cloudcuckoolander: The Chicken Man.
- The Cloud Cuckoolander Was Right: The Chicken Man is the only other character (besides the narrator) who knows about the Lizard Music program.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Chicken Man, due to the chicken he carries, an intelligent hen named Claudia.
- Parental Abandonment: The narrator's parents are off to a resort. His older sister's supposed to watch him, but as teens are wont to do, she's busy doing whatever she's doing as well.
- Planet of Steves: The lizards all have the same name.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Averted and discussed. The lizards on the island are completely mellow (thanks to television waves), but the narrator is weary of going to the island at first, because reptiles have this status.
- Turtle Power: In the end, the narrator leaves the island via having his surfboard carried on a turtle back to Hogbro shore.
The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death/The Snarkout Boys and the Baconburg Horror: Two teenage boys who sneak out in the middle of the night to watch old movies get recruited to help the world's finest detective defeat werewolves, international criminals, and alien real-estate agents.
- Character Name and the Noun Phrase
- Chronically Crashed Car: The Snarkout Boys' biology teacher periodically drives into a tree in the school parking lot.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: Old German movies. It fails miserably.
- Improbable Weapon User: The most dangerous man in the country when he has his lacrosse stick.
- It Runs on Nonsensoleum: The giant avocado-based computer that somehow repels the alien realtors.
- One Paragraph Chapter: The Baconburg Horror has quite a few short chapters, the shortest of which consists of the single sentence "Anything is possible."
- Our Werewolves Are Different: In the second book.
- Serious Business: Old movies seem to be the key to everything.
- There's No B in Movie
- You Are Too Late: At the end of The Avocado of Death, the titular vegetable computer that repels the aliens is destroyed in spite of the heroes' efforts, so nothing will stop them from possessing every licensed realtor in the world. They shrug and say "We'll have to get used to them".
Slaves of Spiegel: The fat men from Fat Men From Space arrange for a literal Cooking Duel between the three best junk-food chefs in the universe.
- Identical Stranger: The three chefs.
- Multiple Narrative Modes: It mostly switches between different first-person narratives, but occasionally it goes into third-person omnipotent when there isn't a convenient first-person narrator. The first time this happens is in a short chapter called "An Unnamed Third Person Who Knows Everything That Happens In This Story Speaks".
- Second Place Is for Winners
- Significant Anagram: The names of the three chefs are all anagrams of each other.
- Scrapbook Story
The Worms of Kukumlima
- The Mad Hatter: Gordon Whillikers
- Worthless Yellow Rocks: The crater is full of jewels, but for a human slave living there there's nothing more precious than food that isn't crunchy granola.
Yobgorgle: Mystery Monster of Lake Ontario: The Flying Dutchman is on a submarine in the middle of Lake Ontario, and needs help to break his curse.
Young Adult Novel: The Wild Dada Ducks are a group of high school students who love spreading the message of Dada and writing short stories about Kevin Shapiro, Boy Orphan. Once they find out there is an actual Kevin Shapiro in the school, they use their Dada skills to make him as successful as possible.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: The real Kevin Shapiro doesn't take kindly to the Ducks messing with his life, and so gets everyone in the school to throw soggy cereal at them at the same time.
- Deus Angst Machina: Common in the Book Within A Book Kevin Shapiro, Boy Orphan.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin
- Fake Ultimate Hero: "Kevin Shapiro is the greatest human on Earth". And right before the student elections...
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: The Wild Dada Ducks perform a play called Chickens from Uranus.
- Gone Horribly Right: The Ducks make Kevin extremely popular. He proceeds to form a cult of personality and suddenly commands every student except for the Ducks.
- Never Say That Again: The Ducks have fines for certain words.
- Praetorian Guard: Kevin Shapiro acquires one, consisting of everyone in the school shorter than him.
- Sadist Show: Kevin Shapiro, Boy Orphan
- With editorial cartoonist Tony Auth, Pinkwater produced the brief but very memorable surreal humor strip Norb in the mid-80's. It was about an eccentric Gentleman Adventurer named Norb, his defrosted wooly mammoth Eugen, teenage neighbor girl Rat, and his "stooge, Jacobowitz. It was a little too weird for the general audience, and it only lasted exactly one year. An anthology book of the daily strips (but not the Sunday ones) was published, but old copies of it are hard to come by.
- ↑ Except for the minor part where they're from three different species that don't resemble each other at all. Besides that, totally identical.