Dave Webb loves to speak to children.
In his fifth-grade classroom, he tells kids about reading, writing, and arithmetic, among other things.
In his children's books, he tells them a bit about himself.
Dave Webb, an elementary school teacher for the past ten years, has found writing children's books to be the best way to combine his two loves: teaching and writing.
Webb, a former newspaper reporter, recently re-released his first self-published book for kids entitled "Slinky Inkermann and the Crazy Contest." Mostly based on true events that happened to himself or people he knows, the chapter book for ages 8-12 focuses on its main character: 11-year-old Slinky Inkermann.
In "the Crazy Contest," Slinky's problem is that two of his best buddies have forced him to decide which of them is the funniest kid in school. He can't decide, and a contest is born to see who is funnier. As Slinky's moral dilemma of having to choose one friend over another unfolds, so does a hilarious and engaging plot. Between the laughs it invites the young reader to make up his or her own mind about which of the two boys -- Kevin or Billy -- is the funnier one.
"I love to hear and see kids laugh," says Webb, who has taken personal days off from school to speak and read to kids at other schools. "Kids can be very funny without even knowing it, and they can appreciate the true-to-life humor in my books. They also easily identify with Slinky's problem of having to choose between his two friends."
In 1997, Webb published a sequel to the currently re-released book, entitled "Slinky Inkermann's Superfreaky Summer" featuring the same characters. He describes it as "a comedy about being scared." It is also based on true events.
So far, Webb has sold hundreds of the books by himself or through independently - owned outlets in his home state of Pennsylvania.
Recently transplanted to a new teaching job in North Carolina, Webb is currently working on writing projects for the Education Center in Greensboro (the publisher of Mailbox Magazine and idea books for teachers), and for the Lexington Dispatch newspaper.
Webb holds bachelor degrees in English and Elementary Education from King's College, Wilkes-Barre, PA. He is single and resides in Lexington, NC.
I asked Dave if he would share a little more information about himself. Students often ask a lot of questions about authors. Here are a few of his responses.
Q. Where do you live?
A. "I was born in Wilkes-Barre, PA and lived most of my life in Mountain Top, PA. For six months I lived in Lehighton and nowI live in Lexington, NC. I moved here to take a position as a public school fifth-grade teacher.
Q. Are you married?
A. "I am single. (Never married. A little girl I taught last year in third grade has written to me asking me not to tie the knot just yet...)"
Q. Students always ask me if the author is dead or alive. He quite happily answered...
A. "Very much alive"
Q. How about hobbies?
A. "For now, writing is a hobby. It used to be my profession when I was a writer for the Times Leader in W-B. That was before I became a teacher. For six years I was an elementary wrestling coach in Mountain Top and Wilkes-Barre. I also coached public speaking and served as advisor for other after-school activities such as student council as well as newspaper and yearbook. I enjoy reading the newspaper and kids' books, surfing the net, watching TV, and listening to all kinds of music. (I used to play keyboards in a local band.) I go to the YMCA regularly, I am in a bowling league, and I go to church every Sunday.
For five summers I was a camp counselor and I also volunteered as a Big Brother. Much of my free time now is taken up promoting my two books and coming up with ideas for new ones. As you can see, I have not had a lot of time to write! I tell children that in order to be a writer you can't just sit in a room and write all the time. You have to live a little!
Q. What prompted you to write this book?
A. "I wrote my first book for kids during the summer of 1995. I had not been writing for the newspaper and wanted to write something that I could share with my students. I printed out the first draft and put it in a binder and then stuck it under my bed. I mentioned to my fifth-graders that year that I had written a book and told them that I had sent copies of the first draft to publishers and hoped to have a reply by the end of the school year. I didn't.
So in May of 1996 I asked my students if they'd like to hear a chapter of my book read to them. They said yes, and I pulled the draft out form under the bed and read the chapter entitled "Billy and the Sleepover." They liked it so much they encouraged me want to publish it myself if no one else would. So that's what I did. "
Books by Dave Webb
If you would like to contact Dave Webb, or order his books, email him at DRW@webtv.net ....he'll be glad to chat with you.
- Slinky Inkermann and the Crazy Contest, 1996 (cover illustration by Sharon Firneno)
- Hoozy, 1997 (illustrated by fifth-grade class of 1997 at St. Jude School, Mt. Top, PA)
- Slinky Inkermann's Superfreaky Summer, 1997 (photography by Dave Webb)
- Hoozy and the Bear, 1998 (illustrated by third grade students)