3-Minute Interview: Henry Winkler

The actor best known as the Fonz on “Happy Days” is co-author with Lin Oliver of the children’s book series “Hank Zipzer: The World’s Greatest Underachiever.” He’ll be at the Menlo Park Library, 800 Alma St., at 7 p.m. Friday signing copies of the 14th installment, “The Life of Me: Enter at Your Own Risk.”

Why are we doing this interview at 7:45 a.m.? I’m a morning person. I get up, feed the dogs, I make tea. I love getting things taken care of.

Who are your books for? They’re for children in third to seventh grade; for moms, librarians and teachers.

Are they for kids who have difficulties learning, like you personally experienced? Yes, the books tell stories of my traveling through a world of learning challenges, but they’re funny first. One reader told me, “I laughed so hard, my funny bone fell out of my body.”

Are Hank Zipzer’s adventures your own? The humor is exaggerated; I never actually untied a tall ship and allowed it to sail down the Hudson, like what happens in the fifth book. But I had a friend like Frankie, and Mrs. Adolf is a real teacher.

You have had a hard time learning, but you went on to Yale drama school. How? When I applied to Yale, I didn’t have to take a geometry test. I still can’t spell or do math. I wrote my first e-mail just last year.

Will the Fonz be featured in an upcoming Hank adventure? No, but he personally told me that he reads them and likes them.

What’s your advice for kids with learning challenges? First, if you will it, then it’s not a dream. Second, there is greatness in you, no matter how you learn.

lkatz@sfexaminer.com

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