I met Paul Larson on GoodReads. He asked me to review his book, The Most Important Critter in the Whole Wide World. I loved it. It feels like a book destined to be a children’s book classic. In his interview with me, Paul talks about spinnin’ the yarn and The Old West. Oh, and he throws out a little Shakespeare at the end. 🙂
Where do you live? What’s it like there?
I live in Springerville, Arizona, a small com-munity on the eastern border of the state. It is surrounded by moderate wooded mountains. This is cattle country. . .elk country. . .antelope country. . .mountain lion country. . .bear country. . .
What is your favorite children’s book?
When my boys were young I read to them every night. A favorite and most memorable tale was “Wind in the Willows”. Even now at 80 years of age I recall with pleasure much of the tale. What books did your children read growing up? When my boys grew older they took a great interest in science fiction and fantasy. “The Lord of the Rings” was a favorite, also “The Chronicles of Narnia.”
What is it about the Old West that is so appealing to youngsters?
The Old West was “new adventure. Folks made own their way and stood their ground by their own devices, and even by their own arms. Young people admire the courage shown by honorable and
independent men and women in tough situations You’ve been telling stories in various venues through the years.
What’s different about orally telling a tale rather than reading a book out loud?
In telling stories I have always felt a greater rapport with the hearers then when just reading. When a tale is well told the hearers are listening to the storyteller. When a story is being read the hearers are listening to the story. Yet, a story well read can be enchanting. For me, telling the tale, spinning the yarn, is the thing.
What’s the best reaction you ever got telling a tale to a group of children?
At the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival in Orem, Utah. I told was the tale I have just published, “The Most Important Critter in the Whole Wide World” and it features a rooster and a coyote. When in the tale the coyote yips, yaps, wails and bays, and the rooster crows and crows, the children joined in with such lusty yipping, yapping etc, and cock-a-doodle-doing that I though the tent would blow out.
Tell us about your latest writing project.
My next project is another coyote story, again derived from an old Indian legend. It is called “The Day the Coyote Lern’t He Couldn’t Fly”. This tale too has been especially well received by children, I think because I have to do a silly dance and I really ain’t that graceful.