Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver Celebrate the Release of 4th “Here’s Hank” Book
Henry Winkler, known to most for playing the iconic television character Fonzie or “The Fonz” on “Happy Days,” has co-authored 27 books with writer-producer Lin Oliver since 2003. On February 8th, the release of the fourth book of their Here’s Hank series, “Fake Snakes and Weird Wizards,” was celebrated at the Upper East Side Barnes and Noble with Winkler and Oliver in tow.
Oliver and Lin spoke of their individual upbringings with Winkler focusing on the difficulty he had in grade school and his early desire to become an actor. “You are not defined by school. Not doing well in school has nothing to do with how brilliant you are. It has nothing to do with how smart you are. You have brilliant thoughts even if you can’t spell,” Winkler said to a room of young children and their parents, “every one of you has greatness inside you and your job is to find what your gift is and dig it out.”
Winkler’s moment of clarity came when his own son was having problems in school that mirrored his own. He described his symptoms of being exactly what he had been experiencing his whole life. “When I was 31 I found that I was not stupid, I was not lazy and I was trying as hard as I could. I had something with a name. I had dyslexia,” said Winkler.
“Hank Zipzer” is based on Henry’s own stories of growing up on the Upper West Side in Manhattan. “We decided to create a character much like Henry, who has learning differences but is not tragic about them,” said Oliver, “he has so many other talents and other resources available to him that he is very optimistic.” The “Hank Zipzer” novels went on to become a series of 18 books and that have sold over 4 million copies in 7 different countries.
“Here’s Hank” is a prequel to the “Hank Zipzer” series and aimed toward a younger reading level. The “Here’s Hank” novels are geared toward those with dyslexia beyond the narrative: each book is set with the Dyslexie font, which was developed by Christian Boer of the Netherlands, who is, along with his children, dyslexic. The “Here’s Hank” books are the first in the United States to be set with this font created specifically for those with reading impairments.
After reading a selection of the new release to a room of delighted children and before signing books, Winkler made his message of determination clear: “Never give up. Put one foot in front of the other and don’t stop. There is no reason that you can’t live your dream the way I lived mine,” he said, “I never let my dream out of the front of my brain.” #