Bob Balaban has spent most of his career as an actor. He has appeared in many movies and television shows, most of them comedies. Now as an author, he is bringing his sense of humor to a new series for kids. The first book is called Creature from the Seventh Grade: Boy or Beast.
The main character, a boy named Charlie, is strange to begin with, but he becomes even more unusual when he turns into a dinosaur. According to Balaban, Charlie is a lot like he was as a kid. For example, Charlie is small, and Balaban was too. ““I almost blew away once,” Balaban told TFK. “I had to hang on to a fire hydrant.” For more laughs—and information on the new book—read on.
What do you and Charlie have in common with each other, other than your middle name (Elmer)?
Charlie has many things in common with me but not everything. He is kind of a unique little boy. [As a kid,] I was interested in things most kids aren’t. I liked making movies. I was the shortest, skinniest and twirpiest boy in the class and [the] class below me. But in a funny way, I didn’t mind being so different, and Charlie doesn’t mind either. Many of the things that happened to Charlie happened to me. I almost blew away once. I got in trouble with the principal because he forced us boys to be on the football team one year. I was too small, and I argued with my principal. I also had funny little friends like Charlie does.
Charlie turns into a creature. Why did you want the creature to be a dinosaur?
I like dinosaurs, and I wanted to attract young readers. Young readers are interested in dinosaurs.
Is this book part of a series?
It is the first of what is planned to be four books. The second is called The Creature from the Seventh Grade: Sink or Swim.
How does being an actor influence your writing?
I didn’t know until I started writing, but I have come to find out acting and writing are very similar. When you are an actor, you create a lot of things but not the basic story. When you are a writer, you create things, but you are kind of invisible.
Why do you hate your middle name, Elmer, so much?
When I was a kid, everyone’s names were Bob and Steve, and Elmer was an old-fashioned name. Elmer was my father’s name. I complained because I thought people would make fun of me.
What was your inspiration for Creature from the Seventh Grade: Boy or Beast?
I myself had a very turbulent seventh grade [year]. Some of it was fun, and some of it was a little frightening. I thought it would be interesting to write about the changes in seventh grade.
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