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December 15, 2009

Jason Pinter on LITTLE TOOT

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Jason Pinter --- whose latest book, THE DARKNESS, just hit stores this month --- can trace his love of stories all the way back to a picture book from his childhood about an immature tugboat afraid of the high seas. Below, he reminisces about being given a brand new copy many years later, on a very special day.

The very first book I ever received for the holidays was Hardy Gramatky’s classic children’s tale LITTLE TOOT. My father gave it to me for Hanukkah when I was just an infant, but it quickly became my favorite book, which I forced him to read to me dozens and dozens of times as a child. I fell in love with this tale of a young, immature tugboat who prefers making figure 8’s in the water rather than doing his job of pulling out massive ocean liners. When Little Toot is exiled by the other tugboats for his childish behavior, he learns to overcome his immaturity and fears of the high seas by rescuing a trapped ocean liner. LITTLE TOOT was a stirring adventure for my young mind, and it was the beginning of my lifelong love of stories.

Over the years, my love of reading was greatly influenced by my father. We lived near a wonderful mystery bookstore called The Black Orchid. Every few weeks my father would come home with a bagful of new books, recommended by the store’s kind owners, Bonnie and Joe (who have since become friends of mine). Once he finished those books, they were passed to my eager hands. I inhaled them, gulping down stories like candy. Those bags of books inspired my love of crime novels, and it’s safe to say I would not have written my own without them.

A little over three years ago, I married my college sweetheart. Just prior to the wedding ceremony, my father gave me a thin package, wrapped in wrapping paper that suspiciously resembled a book. (Having received innumerable books as over the years for presents, I’ve become an expert at identifying them through wrapping paper). When I opened this package, however, I was surprised and overjoyed to see a brand new copy of LITTLE TOOT. My father had inscribed it to me, stating how he remembered reading it to me as a child, and how proud he was to see that small boy grow up to become a man. He felt that because books had become such a big part of my life, on such an important day I should have a new copy of the book that started it all. As LITTLE TOOT was an important story from my childhood, having those memories come flooding back to me was an even more important part of my wedding day. My whole life I have loved stories, loved books, loved tales of heroism and courage. And it likely would not have happened without the help from one small, heroic little tugboat named Little Toot.

-- Jason Pinter

Later this afternoon, Marsha Muller shares some of the favorite books she'd received over the years, which have helped pave the way for her own career as an author.