Who can battle pirates aboard the Jolly Roger, question Leonardo da Vinci and try to avoid an angry samurai warrior named Owattabutt?
The Time Warp Trio, of course. Sam, Fred and Joe -- the elementary school friends who are the main characters in more than a dozen time-travel adventure books -- are starring in an animated show that airs on NBC's Channel 4 Saturdays at 11 a.m.
KidsPost's Tracy Grant talked to Time Warp Trio author Jon Scieszka about turning his books into a TV show, what it's like to be an author and what's next for the guys.
Let's get the important things out of the way first: How do you pronounce your name?
It's chess-ka. My older brother ran for student government and his slogan was "Scieszka -- it rhymes with Fresca."
What made you want to write a series of books about history?
I've been a history buff since I was a little kid. I liked finding out the weird stuff. As a teacher, I saw kids who got really jazzed about history if they found out the details -- like, do samurai warriors wear underwear? [To find out, read "Sam Samurai."] Of course, you have to be very, very careful about getting the facts right.
With the TV show, does it bother you that kids may come to know the Time Warp guys without ever having read the books?
Not at all. I'm really thrilled to connect TV and the books. I wanted to make sure the TV show stayed true to who the boys were. I see this as expanding who they are. Now they live in a bigger, fully animated world. I think the show will bring kids to reading. It's our responsibility to make good television. I like kids to look at both the show and the books, and see what the difference is.
Has being a teacher helped you as an author?
Being a teacher gives you a true respect for kids that lots of people give lip service to. Being with kids for long periods of time in groups helps you realize how funny, crazy, stupid and tough they are.
What's your writing day like?
Having been a teacher really taught me that you can write anytime. . . . I was writing on the subway . . . on little scraps of paper in my wallet. I work at home now. I start every day writing. I like to tell kids that it is something that they can do. It is really hard work, but you can do it.
What are you working on now?
I'm working on a novel for older kids -- sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade range. A new Time Warp will be coming [this fall], "Oh Say I Can't See." The guys help Washington cross the Delaware when he really doesn't want to.