When I taught 4th grade in Los Angeles, I had a student in my class named Dale. He was small for his age, he wasn’t good at sports, and he didn’t seem to have many friends, but I discovered that he had a sly sense of humor. Kids would come up to my desk and ask for help in math. Dale lined up at my desk, too, but instead of asking for help, he’d tell me knock knock jokes. I’d always crack up and ask him to tell everyone. In time, the other kids came to appreciate Dale and knock-knocks became a huge fad.
Fast forward twenty years or so, there I was trying to come up with an unlikely hero for a series of books about kids who go to a school where they learn to slay dragons. Dale popped into my mind, and I thought, Yes, perfect! Dale would not want to slay dragons, and neither did Wiglaf. Dale would never have sold his pet pig, and neither did Wiglaf. I had my unlikely hero. As for the knock-knock jokes, I gave them to Wiglaf’s father, Fergus, but if you’ve read DSA Book 1, you know that Wiglaf could really tell some bad knock-knocks, too.