Harvel Goes to the Farm 1

John Pate’s breathtakingly raucous children’s picture book, Harvel Goes to the Farm, is irreverent and wise. In a similar vein to Everyone Poops and The Gas We Pass, Pate shares the utterly fabulous, wildly original tale of Harvel, a moose readers meet while on his way to visit his aunt and uncle in Nebraska. While Harvel is completely loveable, he has a slight problem. It’s his diet, which, ultimately, gives him gas—the sort of gas that can clear a room, a trailer, and a cornfield, but in the end saves the day. Once he arrives at the family farm, his extraordinary flatulence comes in handy, which not only wins readers hearts and imaginations, but also helps even the youngest readers identify with the fact that often what embarrasses them most is natural and nothing is as bad as it seems. And rest assured, while everyone poops and everyone passes gas—no one toots a poot like Harvel the Moose.



Local professor writes children’s book By Nita Hilner

California Baptist University professor John Pate has written a children’s book inspired by a close friend’s name, Red Skelton, strange smells and his background as a stand-up comic and comedy sketch writer for over 30 years.

“Harvel Goes to the Farm,” Pate’s first book, is about a moose who visits his aunt and uncle’s farm, which is being attacked by voracious bugs eating all the crops.

The animal’s stomach problems, which turn out to be gas, overwhelm the bugs and save the crops, making Harvel a hero. The 28-page book, 14 of them illustrated, is written for ages 4 through 12 and is illustrated by Taillefer Long. It is currently No. 2 in newly released illustrated children’s books on Amazon.com

The name Harvel was taken from a family friend and was used whenever he or his wife, Sarah, encountered a strange smell.

“If the cats dragged in a lizard, and a smell was noted several days later, we couldn’t blame the cats, so I’d say, ‘That must be Harvel,’ ” said John Pate.

He said the first time his wife laughed at the name Harvel, he knew that that would be his moose’s name.

“It presented itself perfectly, Harvel became real,” he said.

Having gained an interest in comedy from watching people like Skelton on TV, he came to Hollywood in the 1970s, performing stand-up at The Improv and the Comedy Store. He made six national TV appearances in 1979 on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert and Norm Crosby’s Comedy Shop. Later on, he did eight episodes of Not Necessarily the News on HBO.

For six years, he was the head writer for Florence Henderson’s talk show on TNN network. From 1987 to 1994, he was a warm-up artist for the audiences of “Designing Women” and “Evening Shade.” Since 1986, he has performed his comedy act one week during the summer at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas.

It was there he met his idol Red Skelton. Later, Skelton remembered Pate and asked him to perform with him at the Stardust Hotel. Pate went on the road with the comedian, becoming an opening act for him from 1991 to 1997 when Skelton died.

Recently, Pate and Skelton’s wife, Lothian, were successful in having Skelton honored on a U.S. postage stamp. Pate took her to an orchestral performance of her husband’s Red’s White and Blue March at Cal Baptist in Riverside. Pate said she was so impressed with the performance that she donated memorabilia to the school.

“I was driving her back to Palm Springs, and she said she had the original march composition. Then later, she said she had the piano Red wrote it on and she’d like to donate both to the school,” said Pate.

Pate began as the speech and debate coach at Cal Baptist in 1995. He is now the chair of the communication and visual arts department.

Mary Ann Pearson, assistant professor of Communications and Education, said that Pate is just a funny person.

“His little one-liners and anecdotes are pretty dry pan, the comedy just sneaks up on you,” she said, adding that the humor helps take away tension in the classroom. Pate said he thinks his students think of him as the crazy uncle trying to make a joke around the dinner table.

Pate’s three children Derly, 17, Laura, 13, and Jonathan, 11 and nieces and nephews are fans of the book. Pate keeps files of ideas, the habit of a sketch writer.

“Variety shows are gone. I love teaching and creative writing, but if someday sketch comedy rolls around again, I would love to do that again, too,” said Pate.

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