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Who What Where When Why How

I Spy

WWWWWH: My name is Who What Where When Why How. Welcome, Jean Marzollo!

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Jean Marzollo: Thank you, Who What Where When Why How.

WWWWWH: The topic is: I SPY. Jean Marzollo, do you make the I SPY pictures?

Jean Marzollo: No, no. The wonderful photographs are created by Walter Wick. I write the riddles.

WWWWWH: Which comes first: the riddles or the pictures?

Jean Marzollo: I can't write the riddles first because then I would be telling Walter what to put in the pictures, and he wouldn’t like that. He can’t make the picture first because then he’d be telling me what to write about.


The 1st I SPY book, 1991

WWWWWH: And you wouldn’t like that.

Jean Marzollo: Right! So we work on the books together. We share the process, and that's what I suggest that you do if you make I SPY pictures and riddles. Work on both at the same time.

WWWWWH: How do you write the riddles?

Jean Marzollo: Well, for example, when we worked on I SPY FUN HOUSE, I suggested a musical picture. Walter got the great idea to borrow musical instruments from a school. He set them up with a backdrop of notes. I suggested that Walter put the words DO RE MI in the picture, which he did. MI is a fine rhyming word. Rhyming is fun. I use the Scholastic Rhyming Dictionary to help me find cool rhymes.

WWWWWH: What about rhythm?

Jean Marzollo: Good question! The I SPY rhythm has a 4 beat pattern. Kids in Miami taught me that you can rap I SPY because rap has a 4 beat rhythm, too.

WWWWWH: I know that!

Jean Marzollo: You do?

WWWWWH: Yes! Listen:   

I spy a banjo, a bird on the wing,
An old bottle cap, a crown for a king;

A button, a B, a fish from the sea,
Three thimbles, a lock, and a DO RE MI.

Jean Marzollo: Excellent!

WWWWWH: One last question: What’s the hardest thing to find in I SPY?

Jean Marzollo: The cat with stripes in the last picture of I SPY SPOOKY NIGHT. Hint: it's on a shelf.

WWWWWH: Let's see.... Uuuh. I found it! Thank you, Jean Marzollo, for the interview.

Jean Marzollo: You’re welcome.


January 2009


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