Words by Sean Douglas
We all know that Henry Winkler (a.k.a The Fonz) is one of the coolest and most esteemed members of our Dyslexic community. But have you heard of his comic creation Hank Zizper?
Hank like Henry is Dyslexic and just like Henry, Hank’s days at high school have been ‘eventful!’ There have already been 17 books written about Hanks journey through High School and early last year Hank hit our screens in his very own TV show.
The show is aimed at a much younger audience than myself, but I still found the show incredibly enjoyable and could totally identifying with many of the predicaments Hank manages to find himself into. It’s safe to say I am a massive fan of the show, so when we were given the chance to get an exclusive interview with Hank Zipzer himself, I jumped at the chance.
We’d like to say a massive thank you to, Jacqueline McGee and Anne Brogan at Kindle Entertainment for making this possible.
The Codpast: From watching your TV show we see that Dyslexia makes your life quite eventful, but how does dyslexia affect your life in a negative way?
Hank: At times I really struggle to keep up with my friends and that makes me feel bad. I try to do my homework but it can be really hard to concentrate – and that’s when I get in trouble. My brain comes up with lots of ideas but they aren’t always the ideas that the teachers have asked me to come up with!
The Codpast: Even though you struggle with reading, writing and homework, away from the books you have managed to excel at sport, public speaking and acting. Why do you think this is?
Hank: I have a good mouth! Things pop into it from the brain and sometimes I don’t even know where they came from. I can talk my way into and out of most things – but sometimes I talk myself into things that I wish I hadn’t. It’s really hard remembering my lines when I’m acting – I need lots of help with that so I like improvising best of all. It’s a gift! I’m actually no good at sport (unless I have Emily’s lucky socks on) me and balls just don’t go together. My favourite instrument apart from my mouth is the drums – but I have broken Mr Rock’s drum kit quite a few times…not on purpose I just got over-enthusiastic I think he said.
The Codpast: You always come up with such inventive ways to get past your difficulties in the classroom, but they don’t always go to plan. What’s the worse trouble you have gotten into?
Hank: There have been quite a few that have got me into a lot of trouble – hard to know which is the worse; Miss Adolf chasing me down the school corridor on a bike after I had accidentally electrocuted her was pretty bad, but so was the time me, Ashley and Frankie got covered in foam by the fire fighters after I had set off the fire alarm. That wasn’t an accident exactly, I did it on purpose because…we’ll its a long story and you’ll be able to see it in series 2.
The Codpast: Mr Rock seems to get into as much trouble as you; do you secretly think he’s dyslexic too?
Hank: I’ve never thought about that before but now you mention it, yes I suppose it is possible – it’s never easy to know if someone is dyslexic or not, maybe he is? He certainly understands my problems in a way no one else does.
The Codpast: What does it feel like knowing that you are not the only one whose brain works the way yours does?
Hank: It makes me feel like I’ve had a big cup of hot chocolate – with frothy cream on top.
The Codpast: Mrs Adolf gives you quite a hard time; do you think she knows you are dyslexic?
Hank: She does know (and I’ve told her lots of times) but I think she doesn’t really believe it. Maybe she thinks I am making it up or maybe she thinks that I prefer larking around to working. I know I annoy her some of the time (OK a lot of the time) but it’s not intentional it just happens.
The Codpast: Do you think there is anything you could do to help Mrs Adolph to understand, that you are not misbehaving and that sometimes you just find things difficult?
Hank: A brain transplant is the only idea I have come up with so far…otherwise I am all out of ideas. My mum says that sometimes teachers have to work at remembering there can be other reasons than just being naughty/deliberately disobedient/not concentrating. I suppose she is right….but then she doesn’t have Miss Adolf as a teacher!
The Codpast: There is some rivalry between you and your sister and she seems to do much better at school than you. Is there anything that you admire about her and anything that you think she admires about you?
Hank: Do you seriously think there is anything I could possibly admire about a sister who prefers talking to a lizard than a human being?
The Codpast: Will there be a new series of your TV show?
Hank: Yep…there is a new series already made and just waiting to explode onto a screen near you.
If you haven’t already seen the show then I would highly recommend it. Keep an eyes on our blog as we’ll keep you up dated as to when series two will be broadcast. Until then take a look at what you missed in series one.
The Codpast is a multimedia production from www.extraordinaire.tv