By: Jodi Hale
What do you get when you cross a boy named Alex with a crocodile and a pickle jar? A hilariously entertaining story by award-winning children’s author Artie Knapp. “I was in the pickle jar aisle at my grocery store one night, and as I grabbed a jar of pickles the green bumpy skin on the pickles reminded me of a crocodile partially submerged in water,” said Artie. “Right then and there, my children’s story, There’s a Crocodile in Our Pickle Jar, was born.” The story embraces the oh-so-common struggle parents encounter at mealtime with getting kids to eat the healthy stuff on their plates, and what could happen if they don’t. It is both amusing and relatable and, like all of Artie’s children’s stories, provides an important lesson to his readers, both young and old.
A former member of the United States Air Force and Air National Guard, Artie did not initially set out to write children’s literature. “I was interested in storytelling, but more specifically with filmmaking,” he said. A graduate of Ohio University with a Liberal Arts degree, Artie worked on student films while living in New York City. He soon wrote, produced and directed his first screenplay, a science-fiction comedy titled Pluto’s Plight, which starred former Heavyweight Boxing Champion Buster Douglas. “Once I decided to write my own film, the writing bug really took over from there.”
Artie has been a regular contributor to Yak’s Corner, a news magazine for children ages 6-13 from the Detroit Free Press and is member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. His stories have been critically acclaimed for bringing to the forefront some of the more challenging issues children face today. He was awarded a certificate of recognition for literary and artistic achievement from the Hamilton County Committee of the Ohioana Library Association for his book, Stuttering Stan Takes a Stand, a story about a stuttering squirrel who is teased for his disability and who, through the help of a friend, learns about acceptance and takes a stand against bullying. The book also won the Stop, Think & Speak Award for his portrayal of a character with speech, hearing, or mental difficulties.
But perhaps the most important work of his career, according to Artie, was his third published children’s story, Sprinting Spencer Still Wants to Run. The story tells of the town’s star racehorse who, after becoming injured, wants nothing more than to feel needed and loved. “After writing it, I felt that writing for kids is what I should be doing,” said Artie. “Children inspire me more than anything, and are the inspiration that helps me to stay focused with my writing.”
To date, Artie has published close to 40 original works in Children’s Literature, including books, stories and poems. His children’s literature has been featured in over 300 publications around the world, and has been used in course books by publishers Orient BlackSwan, Oxford University Press, Pearson Education, and The Chart Institute in Japan, among others. Though he remains passionate about the picture book format, and even has a couple of new books in the works, Artie hopes to soon begin working on chapter books and a novel for children. “I am thankful that my work continues to find an audience,” said Artie. “I hope to continue writing for children for many years to come.”
Artie lives in Cincinnati, OH, with his wife, Priya, and his 7-year-old daughter, Alanna. Together they enjoy traveling, visiting the parks of Cincinnati and Friday family movie night.
Jodi Hale is an editorial/advertising assistant for North Phoenix Family Magazine as well as a freelance writer. The mother of three amazing boys ages 7, 12 and 14, she has served on the PTA board of their school for more than 7 years, collaborating with teachers, staff and community members to enrich the learning environment for all students through positive and engaging educational experiences. Jodi also volunteers as a public relations specialist for Musical Theatre of Anthem, promoting the theater’s year-round training opportunities and award-winning productions. She loves reading, free-hand drawing, creating props, and raising her boys to embrace life with purpose.