Author Martin Pritikin talks with Mommy Mafia about how he came up with his first novel, kids book Scrute, and why it’s so appealing to kids of all ages
When the reader first opens the kids book Scrute by Martin Pritikin, it seems like a funny but conventional story about a sarcastic 12-year old, Connor, who moves to a new school just before the start of middle school. But when he befriends Scrute, the strangest kid in the class, things don’t just get weird—they get supernaturally weird.
How did you decide to write the kids book Scrute?
I was a creative writing major in college. But then I went straight into law school and became a lawyer and law professor, and now I’m a law school dean. So I basically took a 20-year hiatus from creativity. I finally decided I needed to get back to my roots. Once the idea for the kids book Scrute came to me, I wrote the first draft in under a month.
What was the inspiration for Scrute?
One of my kids is “2e” or twice exceptional. He’s exceptionally bright but also faces exceptional social and emotional challenges. More than one parent of a high-functioning child on the autism spectrum has described their kid (lovingly) as seeming like they’re from another planet. Their child may not speak and relate the way kids typically do. So I thought: I should write a book about a kid who seems like he’s from another planet—and it turns out he is from another planet.
Why is it called Scrute?
The alien, named Walter, constantly recites random facts. Everything from radioactive bananas to black holes to armadillo farts. Back in second grade, when kids called him weird, he replied, “I’m not weird; I’m inscrutable.” But they couldn’t pronounce “inscrutable,” so they called him “Scrute.” The name stuck.
Does Scrute have a message?
You could certainly read something into the fact that the very thing that makes Scrute different turns out to be his greatest strength, one that benefits everyone around him. But I didn’t want to lecture kids or make it feel heavy. So on the surface, it just seems like a funny sci-fi tale about kids who think they know better than adults—and often do. My own kids have described it as a cross between Harry Potter, Wayside School, and Wonder, if such a thing is possible.
Has it gotten the reaction you were hoping for?
Fortunately, yes. The book focuses on seventh graders, but I’ve heard of kids as young as eight as well as teenagers devouring it in one sitting and repeatedly laughing out loud. I’ve even gotten similar feedback from some adults, too. It’s gratifying to know Scrute can appeal to readers on multiple levels.
Anything else in the works?
My next novel, called Class Clowns, is another funny book for kids. Apparently, my day job is serious that my mind keeps retreating to juvenile humor. But if keeps me engaged and makes kids happy, that’s all I care about.
About the Author, Martin PritikinMartin Pritikin is the Dean and Vice President of Concord Law School at Purdue University Global, the nation’s first fully online law school. He graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Creative Writing from the University of Southern California and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School. None of that really prepared him for writing kids books, but having kids of his own did. They don’t think he’s very funny, but they think his books are.
SCRUTE by Martin Pritikin available on AMAZON now