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Henry Winkler

June 2012

I’M looking forward to another great meal in Nottingham. It was at the Hart’s hotel and it was spectacular.
I was there on a book tour with the Hank Zipzer series. This time I have a new series called Ghost Buddy, which is a comedy about two young guys who would probably never meet up, never associate with each other, and probably never take care of each other. But they learn from each other.
The series has its foundation in bullying and being responsible to one another. But first, it's a comedy.
The Ghost is Hoover Porterhouse, aka the Hoove. He’s a 14-year-old ghost who’s been dead for 99 years. He’s a baseball playing, wise-cracking character who is pretty handy when it comes to dealing with the school bullies out to demolish Billy Broccoli. If you read Ghost Buddy thinking about Fonzie and Richie (from Happy Days) and their relationship, you wouldn’t be far wrong.
Was Fonzie a bully? There was only a threat of violence from Fonzie. If you go back and you look at the 255 episodes, you won’t see him hit anybody. He was all about doing the right thing and taking care of his friends. I based a lot of The Fonz on loyalty.
We’re launching the tour at the House of Commons on Monday and we’re coming to Killisick School in Nottingham on Tuesday. I bring my OBE (awarded last September in recognition of his services to children with dyslexia and special education needs) when I tour the schools to show the kids what you can achieve. I was told that I would never achieve anything and your Queen thought that I was worthy enough to be given this beautiful medal.
The Hank Zipzer books are about my life as a dyslexic. I didn’t find out I was dyslexic until I was 31. I was told I was stupid, I was lazy. My parents called me a dumb dog.
I experienced bullying because of my dyslexia. I was in the bottom three per cent of my class academically. And in the school I went to, that was grounds for bullying.
As a result I define my time at school as like climbing Mount Everest with no clothes on. Really difficult.
You are told early enough, often enough that you are not enough. And it takes a jackhammer to break that from your psyche.
I didn’t read a novel until I was in my thirties. I was so intimidated by the written word. Even comic books, my eyes would get tired... it was horrible.
So now that I’m writing them is amazing. I’m still in shock.
I live in Los Angeles with my wife. We have two sons and a daughter, two grandchildren and two incredible dogs. We go to the theatre, we go to the movies and I work a lot. I have four or five different jobs.
I still get “The Fonz” and “Fonzie” shouted at me everywhere I go... all over the world, because it was seen in 126 countries. And I never mind because the wonderful life I have is all on the shoulders of The Fonz.

Henry Winkler will be signing copies of Ghost Buddy: Zero to Hero at WHSmith in the Victoria Centre on Tuesday June 12 from 4pm. The book, written by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver, is published by Scholastic Children’s Books and is available now.

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