The Right Touch of Whimsy

A shared past in Millburn lead to a connection between humorist writer Dan Zevin and illustrator Dylan Klymenko, and a delightful book series.

Photo courtesy of the publisher.

Humor writer Dan Zevin was searching for an illustrator to help bring his new series of parody books to life. He found Dylan Klymenko. But Zevin, who grew up in Short Hills and now lives in Westchester, had no idea how much he and Klymenko had in common.

Someone suggested Zevin check out Klymenko’s website, “I liked his work,” says Zevin. After exchanging e-mails, Zevin got curious: “I said, ‘Where are you based?’” Klymenko replied, “I live in Short Hills.’”

“I went, ‘Are you kidding me?’” Zevin says.  It turns out Klymenko and Zevin—who won the Thurber Prize for American Humor in 2013 for his book Dan Gets a Minivan: Life at the Intersection of Dude and Dad—both went to Millburn High School. Zevin graduated in 1982, Klymenko in 2004. “He’s like a version of me who’s 150 years younger and can draw,” Zevin says.

Klymenko’s whimsical drawing style is just what Zevin was looking for. The new books parody the Mr. Men/Little Miss children’s books. The series—Little Miss Overshare; Mr. Selfie; Little Miss Basic; and Mr. Humblebrag—hit stores in October (Three Rivers Press).

Zevin finally met Klymenko at Rock ’n’ Joe, a coffee house in Millburn. The face time proved fruitful. “I could put my arms in the air and raise my eyebrows to show him what I had in mind,” says Zevin. He also got to experience modern-day Millburn. “Rock ’n’ Joe’s was so cool,” says Zevin.

“Millburn never had anything like that when I was a kid. Back then we hung out at the deli.”

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