Bonjour, I’m Francois DuBois.
I’m here interviewing children’s book author, Richard Seidman.
François: Richard, I enjoyed reading World Cup Mouse, especially the parts with me in it! Your books are really funny.
Richard: Thank you, François. I love to make jokes and funny business. That’s one of the main reasons I enjoy writing – to amuse myself and children (and also the big children that we call “grown-ups”). For me, funny business is a way to love life, and it’s also a way to transform sorrows.
François: Why do you like writing about mice like me and Louie?
Richard: Some of my favorite literary characters are mice: Stuart Little, Doctor De Soto, Norman the Doorman, Desperaux. It’s fun to write about you mice guys.
François: Thanks. Where did you grow up, and what were you like as a child?
Richard: I grew up in Brooklyn, New York. I was a really shy child, and to tell you the truth, I’m still pretty shy. Here’s a photo of me when I was about four years old. I didn’t really know how to play chess when this picture was taken, but I liked moving the pieces around. My father, Herb, was one of the best chess players in the U.S..When I was growing up, playing games and sports and reading were the favorite things I enjoyed, and they’re still the favorite things I enjoy today! In high school and college, my number one passion was running. That’s me on the left, running for James Madison High School.
François: My last name, you know, means “of the trees.” I heard that you were part of a tree-planting organization.
Richard: Yes. In the 1970s, I moved to Portland, Oregon, and in 1989 I founded the nonprofit tree-planting group, Friends of Trees. I’m proud that all these years later Friends of Trees is still going strong. More than 10,000 volunteers have planted more than 500,000 trees since the beginning of the organization.
François: Wow, that’s a lot of trees! What other accomplishments are you proud of?
Richard: Well, I’m proud of the book I wrote for grown-ups, A New Oracle of Kabbalah: Mystical Teachings of the Hebrew Letters. And I’m proud that in the fall of 2013, after training in the martial arts for eighteen years, I finally earned a black belt in Shotokan Karate.
François: Congratulations. Remind me not to pick a fight with you.
Richard (laughing): Don’t worry, François.
François: My cheese soufflé is almost done. Is there anything else you want to say about yourself before we close?
Richard: Yes. I’m a member of SCBWI, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and a founding member of a local children’s book writing critique group. I compiled and edited a nonfiction children’s book for Benchmark Education, I Am Deaf and I Dance: A Memoir. I’m also the author of several screenplays for family films, including an adaptation of World Cup Mouse. Maybe you’ll become a Hollywood star, François! I now live in Ashland, Oregon with my beloved wife, Rachael Resch, our chickens, and our myriad stuffed animals and other small friends.
François: Any mice?
Richard: Only a stuffed toy Despearaux looking over my writing desk.
François: I guess that’s better than nothing. Well, thanks for the interview.
Richard: Thank you. Please say hi to Louie for me.
François: Oui. Au revoir.
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