Imagine yourself in the wackiest talent show any high school could host. Now, slowly and carefully, imagine that the talents are recitals of children’s books, short stories, and non-fiction essays. Modify the two hosts slightly so that one has a jaunty green and pink hat right out of Royal Ascot, and the other a Nerf gun to shoot darts at the contestants who ramble on for too long. The two finalists must affix widely renowned literary mustaches of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and George Orwell to a life-size black-and-white portrait of a mustacheless Ernest Hemingway blindfolded as accurately as possible in order to determine the winner. The spectacle has been hosted by Todd Zuniga and Kirsten Sims for the past six years and features all-star judges Tom Perotta, Niki Luparelli and Joe Piccirillo.
Kenneth Calhoun, author of “Big Swing”
Roving Reporter: What’s your inspiration for your work?
KC: I go through my life, and I see things happen in life. I decide to put a frame around it and exaggerate it to the point it’s humorous, satirical, or surreal.
RR: Do you think books resemble sushi?
KC: Books can resemble sushi in the rawness. They do resemble sushi physically as well, if you consider maki.
Bob Shea, a children’s author/illustrator living in Connecticut
RR: What did you think of the judges tonight?
BS: They did a great job; one of them is sitting right there!
Niki Luparelli: Don’t worry about me; I won’t hurt you.
RR: Did you become a children’s author to be able to pick up chicks more easily?
BS: No, well, uh– I [became a children’s author] after I got married so no. Not only that, but all the chicks I meet have children of their own, so it wouldn’t have been a very good thing.
RR: I’m sorry.
BS: I’m sorry, as well.
RR: Lastly, do children actually like your books?