ABOUT BRUCE HALE
Raised by wolves just outside Los Angeles, Bruce Hale began his career as a writer while living in Tokyo, and continued it when he moved to Hawaii in 1983. Before entering the world of children’s books, he worked as a magazine editor, surveyor, corporate lackey, gardener, actor, and deejay.
Bruce has written and illustrated over 25 books for kids. His Underwhere series includes Prince of Underwhere and Pirates of Underwhere. His Chet Gecko Mysteries series includes: The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse, The Big Nap, The Malted Falcon, Hiss Me Deadly, and others.
You could say Bruce has a thing for lizards. He also has created five Hawaii children’s books, including Legend of the Laughing Gecko, Moki and the Magic Surfboard, and Moki the Gecko’s Best Christmas Ever — all starring Moki the Gecko. (By the way, Moki the Gecko and Chet are second cousins.)
When not writing and illustrating, Bruce loves to perform. He has appeared on stage, on television, and in an independent movie called “The Ride,” where he plays a surfer’s agent. Bruce is a popular speaker and storyteller for audiences of all ages. In 1998, he won a Fulbright Grant to teach storytelling and study folklore in Thailand. (No, he doesn’t speak much Thai, but he loves Thai food.)
These days, Bruce lives in Santa Barbara with his wife, Janette, and his Heinz-57 mutt, Riley. (No relation). When he’s not at the computer or drawing board, you’ll find him hiking the hills, bicycling, or riding the waves (when it’s warm enough, that is). He also likes going to movies and playing jazz music.
Photo of author by Marissa Roth
INTERVIEW WITH BRUCE HALE
What is the best part about writing for kids?
I love giving myself permission to be incredibly silly, and kid readers seem to appreciate this. Also, kids are very honest and direct in their feedback. If something works, they let you know, and if something doesn’t work, they let you know even more.
Your books are hilarious! What do you think makes a book funny for kids?
Kids can appreciate different kinds of humor depending on their development level. Younger kids tend to like slapstick and misunderstanding, whereas older ones can appreciate more sophisticated wordplay and sarcasm. And if you want to tickle boy readers, it’s hard to go wrong with a booger joke.
How can teachers and librarians use humor to engage reluctant readers?
This is a key element in getting reluctant readers hooked. Kids love funny books, so if you can just identify what kind of humor the student appreciates, all you need to do is read him or her a passage and pass the book over. Some of my favorite funny writers are Jon Sciezscka, Mac Barnett, MT Anderson (especially Whales on Stilts), Lisa Yee, and Jeff Kinney.
You’re a storyteller as well as an author. Do you have any favorite storytelling tips to share?
Don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself. That willingness to look uncool or take a risk is what makes for exciting storytelling. For example, if you’re shy about doing different voices, take a chance and do it big. If you fail, you can always tell your listeners that you were going for the laugh.
What makes you laugh?
Misunderstandings, pratfalls, bad puns, oblivious characters, Seinfeld episodes, The Daily Show, Eddie Izzard, Winnie the Pooh, and a host of other things.
I’ve got so many they’re hard to recall, but here’s a short list:
WINNIE THE POOH
WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS
THE CASE OF THE MISTAKEN IDENTITY
DIARY OF A WIMPY KID
THE TRUE STORY OF THE 3 LITTLE PIGS
STANFORD WONG FLUNKS BIG TIME
LUNCH LADY series
and anything by Roald Dahl
For more info about Bruce Hale visit www.BruceHale.com