Neil Crone on His New Book & … Farting
By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: March 17, 2013
Actor Neil Crone, best known for his roles in Disney’s Really Me, the Goosebumps television series and the voice for Diesel 10, Splatter and Gordon the Big Blue Engine in Thomas and the Magic Railroad has ventured into the world of children’s books with Who Farted? Stories in verse for big & little kids, published by Wintertickle Press.
Bianca Schulze: As an actor in many children’s programs, you’ve been exposed to all kinds of writing styles and pertinent kid themes. At what point in your career did you decide that you wanted to become a children’s book writer?
Neil Crone: I don’t know that I ever made that conscious decision. I just liked playing with words. When my kids were little, I was at home a lot more than your average Dad and therefore had all this wonderful time with them. I got to play with them and watch them and their friends. The poetry just kind of evolved out of that. I needed a creative outlet and their stories and the stories of my own childhood just kind of bubbled up and demanded that I pay attention to them. So, in essence, I’ve been doodling away at this stuff for the last twenty years.
BS: From overdue library books to friendship, Who Farted? tackles many kid related topics through a collection of quirky poems. Is there a particular verse from your book that that resonates or lingers (excuse the pun) with you the most?
NC: You never need to apologize to me for a fart pun! I think “Baloney Butt” is one of my favourites. It’s all about loving the person inside the body they come in. About not judging people. So many kids are mercilessly taunted and bullied because they’re too fat or too skinny or just about anything that might make them different in any way. And “Baloney Butt” is about looking inside the cover of the book. It’s also my way of apologizing to any kid I may have made fun of when I was an idiot back then.
Excerpt from Baloney Butt:
He’s got caring and kindness on every page;
Yes, Baloney is really a lover.
But folks seldom look inside of the book.
They just cruelly cluck at the cover.
My big-bottomed buddy’s the best pal I have
And I hope that you’ll give him a chance
‘cause only a phony would look at Baloney
and see only the back of his pants.
BS: How about your readers? What do they have to say? Which poem seems to spark the biggest reaction?
NC: Well, “Who Farted?” Is definitely high on the list (ooooh, was that another pun??). Kids howl at that one. Especially when I’m reading in a school setting. Saying the word ‘fart’ in a library or classroom is kind of like giggling at a funeral. It’s forbidden fruit and the kids eat it up.
Excerpt from Who Farted?:
Who farted? Who farted?
Say who cut the cheese?
Who started the stink that is blowin’ in the breeze?
Who shooted the toot that brought me to my knees?
Can’t somebody tell me, oh please!
BS: Why is it, in your opinion, that talk about farting, or potty talk in general, is so appealing to children and grownups alike?
NC: Precisely because of the forbidden fruit thing. We’re still pretty prudish by and large. Even though it’s something every healthy human on the planet does on a fairly regular basis, we’re not supposed to acknowledge it. Plus, let’s face it, fart is a funny word and it comes in so many funny varieties of sound! I’m fifty-two and I still laugh hysterically when somebody farts in a movie or tv show.
BS: From the conception of the idea to published work, how long did it take you to complete Who Farted?
NC: Well, fairly quickly actually, thanks in large part to my publisher, Heather Down. We were able to get the poems edited and selected quite easily. Wes Tyrell hustled like crazy to get the wonderful illustrations done and he was spot on most of the time so even that went very quickly. That was one of the nice things about this project, we all seemed to be on the same page most of the time in terms of creative vision, choices etc.
BS: How closely did you work with Wes Tyrell through the book concept and design process?
NC: Wes is an old friend from highschool. He had illustrated another book of mine called ‘The Secret Farmers Midnight Dance’ and had done such a beautiful job that he just immediately came to mind. He also has a fantastic sense of humor so I knew he would find great stuff to accompany the poems. Wes would work away and then shoot me rough drawings of what he’d come up with. These were so good that I really didn’t need to give him much in the way of direction. As I say, we were on the same page most of the time. I think his stuff really made the book special.
BS: Where do you think your love of writing came from? Do you have a favorite author—one that inspired your own writing? Shel Silverstein, perhaps?
NC: I do love Shel Silverstein, although I think I am an even bigger fan of Jack Prelutsky. I bought all of his poem collections for my kids and read them aloud over and over again. He’s just such a wonderful poet. I read like a fiend. Books are my favourite thing and I can never get enough of them or time to spend in them. And I have loved writing stories ever since grade school. Especially funny stories. I vividly remember being allowed to read my ‘compositions’ (that’s what we called them back then) out loud to my grade three class and being delighted when they laughed when they were supposed to!
BS: To write humor, one would imagine that you’d have to be a humorous kind of guy. So that we can get a glimpse of who you truly are, what would you say was the funniest book you read when you were a child? And why do you think you found it so funny?
NC: It’s weird but there really weren’t that many ‘funny’ kids books around when I was a kid. Books back they tended to want to instruct kids or moralize to them. Most of the really funny stuff has come out in later years. My kids got to enjoy far more funny books than I ever did. I will say that Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory sticks out though for me. That book is absolutely wonderful and I’ve read it several times in my life. There are both darkly scary and very funny moments in it. I love his names for the characters too. You couldn’t get a better name for a character than Willy Wonka.
BS: Should we expect to see more children’s books from you?
NC: Definitely. I already have several other stories ready to go and another collection of goofy poems. I’m always writing something. It’s what I love most.
BS: As a parting note, is there anything you would like to share with your readers?
NC: Mostly my thanks. Nobody that I know writes just for the plain fun of writing. As much as I enjoy it, I enjoy even more reading to kids and watching them take pleasure from the words. So thanks everybody…for holding up your end of the bargain!
Official Who Farted? website: www.whofarted.ca
Available through amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Who-Farted-Stories-Verse-Little/dp/1894813561
Official Neil Crone website: www.neilcrone.com
Official Wintertickle press website: www.winterticklepress.com
Add this book to your collection: Who Farted?: Stories in Verse for Big & Little Kids
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