As happy and well adjusted an adult as Mr. Forbes seems on the surface, I can't help but believe his latest book, published this week, "Let's Have A Bite! A Banquet of Beastly Rhymes," with drawings by the New Yorker cartoonist Ronald Searle, isn't the result of night terrors.
"The Giant Panda at the zoo just sits and chomps on fresh bamboo," goes one poem. "His belly is like a cooking pot, Which happens when you eat a lot. He's content to do not much but chew. Which is all he seems to do (That and poo!)"
People often take a stab at children's books after reading "Goodnight Moon" to their own kids and becoming convinced they can do better. But Mr. Forbes hasn't read to his son Miguel in decades. Miguel is in his thirties. Miguel is Forbes's president of television and licensing.
It seems Mr. Forbes simply has crazy rhymes going through his head. He'll wake up in the middle of the night, don his special Edward Beiner reading glasses with built-in reading lights, write for a couple of hours, roll over and go back to sleep.
"I write to amuse me," he said. "I write stuff I'd like to read." Such as, apparently, "A chicken-stewing cat named Shauna slipped on her sweat in the sauna. She moaned on the floor, 'I must reach the door, Or I'll be a fricasseed goner.' "
Mr. Forbes said he contacted Mr. Searle, who lives in the south of France, and whose work he collects, out of the blue, fully prepared to be rejected, but figuring it couldn't hurt to ask. But Mr. Searle said yes. "I'll write a couple of lines about the poem," Mr. Forbes said of their collaborative process, "and a month or two later back this package comes with all these illustrations. It's like a little boy opening a Christmas present."
This is actually Mr. Forbes' second book of poems and critters. The first, "Beastly Feasts," also illustrated by Mr. Searle, was published in 2007. And Mr. Forbes shot the photography for "A Year of Dancing Dangerously," about his wife Lydia Raurell's successful quest to be crowned newcomer of the year on the pro-am ballroom dance circuit, though partnered with Brian Nelson, her professional dance partner.
Mr. Forbes divides his time between Manhattan, where he lives in Forbes Magazine worker housing, Palm Beach where his wife and Lamborghini reside, and the road, having just returned from dance competitions in Irvine, Calif., Las Vegas and Phoenix. "She's three to four hours a day practicing with a coach," he said of his wife. "She takes it very seriously."
However, she'll still condescend to dance with her husband. "Happily," he said, "she lets me lead."
And the poems keep coming. The drawings too. Last month the 90-year-old Mr. Searle delivered five more. "I've got at least two more books done by him," Mr. Forbes said. "I have no idea whether my publisher will do it—but I don't care."
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
A glimpse into the life of Robert L. Forbes
Check out this fantastic article in the Wall Street Journal profiling Robert L. Forbes, author of our wonderfully whimsical children's book LET'S HAVE A BITE! A BANQUET OF BEASTLY FEASTS. It's always fun for us to read author profiles instead of traditional reviews--especially when they lead lives as interesting as this. Go here to read the full article, but here's an excerpt you might enjoy! You can also keep up-to-date on the life and times of Robert Forbes and events surrounding the publication of Let's Have a Bite! on Facebook and by following @robertlforbes on Twitter.