Renowned Weston children’s author Alan Katz is releasing a new edition to his electronic-book (e-book) series Lieographies, this month called The Lieography of Amelia Earhart.
Mr. Katz, often referred to as being “seriously silly,” has been a humorous children’s author for a dozen years. He has written the Silly Dilly Songbook parody series, and a book of songs sung to well-known tunes called Take Me Out of the Bathtub (sung to the tune of Take Me Out to the Ball Game).
Mr. Katz has been nominated for six Emmy awards for his work writing for the Rosie O’Donnell Show and Taz-Mania, and he produced the Tony Danza Show.
However, he has turned his focus lately to writing the Lieographies e-book series, which is published by Frederator Books and longtime friend of Mr. Katz and Weston resident David Wilk.
The series began when Mr. Katz’s twin boys, David and Nathan, started to read, and one liked biographies and the other liked humorous stories. Mr. Katz wanted to combine historical figures with comedy, and thus Lieographies — “the totally made up, absolutely untrue, 100% false life stories of the world’s greatest heroes” — was born.
Although there are no “truths” to these e-books, in a day when kids are reading less and less, it encourages children ages 6 to 10 to want to read, Mr. Katz said. He believes humor is vital to a child’s education. “Let’s all laugh and let’s all learn,” Mr. Katz says.
It appears Mr. Katz took to heart some advice given his third grade teacher teacher at P.S. 179 in Queens, N.Y., whose only comment on his report card that year was, “Alan must work toward expressing his ideas more creatively.”
Teachers and parents alike have commended Mr. Katz for his ability to make kids laugh with every turn of the page, but also give them an incentive to learn. “It’s a new way to get kids excited about reading and laughing. I promise you at the end of the 75 pages you won’t have learned a single thing except to enjoy reading more,” Mr. Katz said.
The author hopes that after reading Lieographies, kids will have a hunger to find out the real story about the historical figures. He compares his series to the literary equivalent of the childhood game “got your nose.” Mr. Katz said, “I don’t really want you to believe this information about these figures, I just want you to have fun and then go find the truth.”
Located at the end of the e-books is a suggested reading list of real biographies about the historical figures. The Lieography series features Babe Ruth, Harry Houdini and Thomas Edison, and on June 18, a new one on Amelia Earhart will be released.
Plans are to release a new Lieography book in the middle of every month.
In July, the Lieography of basketball star Michael Jordan will be available, marking the first time a Lieography has been done on a living person. “I hope when he reads it I’m still living,” Mr. Katz joked.
When asked how the selection process for a Lieography subject works, Mr. Katz said he stays away from figures that are revered, such as Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks or Mother Teresa, because they are “larger-than-life public figures.”
He is hoping to do a Lieography on a president and is currently debating between George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
When visiting students in schools, the author loves hearing the question, “When’s the next one [Lieography] coming out?” Kids are constantly shouting out historical figures for Katz to write about.
Although his books are filled with jokes and silliness, Mr. Katz makes a serious note that he is not encouraging kids to lie or make fun of other people. His stories are not critical of the historical figures in any way.
When he visits students across the country, he emphasizes, “It’s one thing to make a joke, but it is never OK to make a joke at someone else’s expense. Everything I do is to try and make everyone laugh.”
Mr. Katz’s proudest moment came when one of his sons, Andrew, wrote the Lieography of Alan Katz, which Mr. Katz thought was a “hoot.”
The first 100 visitors to http://bit.ly/13QqKlc may receive a free download of The Lieography of Babe Ruth, which otherwise costs $2.99.
Mr. Katz reminds readers to “think funny.”