Tag Archives: Children’s Literature

“Buzz Off, Roald Dahl!” What You Don’t Know About Three Famous Children’s Book Authors

madelineLudwig Bemelmans shot and almost killed a waiter.
Ludwig Bemelmans, author/illustrator of the Madeline book series, failed in school and was so rebellious that his family kicked him out and sent him to work in hotels owned by his uncle in Italy. When Bemelmans was sixteen, he supposedly shot and almost killed a waiter. He was spared prison and given the choice between reform school or emigration to America. He chose America. Bemelmans became a naturalized citizen, served in the U.S. Army, and eventually owned a restaurant. In 1934, when Bemelmans was 36, a friend who worked in publishing saw some whimsical paintings that Bemelmans had created and suggested that Bemelmans write and illustrate a children’s book—the rest is history.
Read more about Bemelmans . . .

2280830Beatrix Potter told Roald Dahl to “buzz off”.
As a young child, Roald Dahl loved Beatrix Potter’s books. In fact, at age six Dahl was, perhaps, Potter’s biggest fan. He persuaded his mother to take him to Potter’s home in northern England, so he could see where she lived.

Not long before Dahl died, Brough Girling, founder and director of Readathon, a campaign to get more children reading, interviewed Dahl and asked about books he had read as a youngster and his influences. On Roald Dahl Day in 2008, Girling shared what Dahl had said about Potter:

“He told me he went with his mum when he was six. He asked if he could go and see where she lived. So they went up to the Lake District.

“He came to the farmyard and recognized it, which made him very nervous. In Jemima Puddle-Duck the farmyard was actually Beatrix Potter’s farmyard and he recognized that.

“He said it was like stepping into a page of one of his favorite books.

“Then he saw Beatrix Potter, this old woman in her garden. And she said to him, ‘What do you want?’

“He said, ‘I’ve come to meet Beatrix Potter’ and she said ‘Well, you’ve seen her. Now buzz off!’

“His wife said it’s actually true. Roald had told her. And it’s true Beatrix Potter was quite grumpy and not fond of children. He would have been six and she would have been about 80.”

Read more . . .

Dr-Seuss-and-creationsDr. Suess, Theodore Geisel was afraid of children.
Geisel never had children of his own, and he was uncomfortable being around kids. He rarely did book signings or wanted to meet the children who loved The Cat in the Hat and his other books. When interviewed and asked whether he had children, Geisel answered, “You have ‘em; I’ll amuse ‘em.”

After his death, Geisel’s widow said that he didn’t just dislike children—he was afraid of them. When he was around kids, Geisel fretted about what they might do or ask. “I don’t think spending your days surrounded by kids is necessary to write the kind of books I write,” he said. “I don’t write for children, I write for people.”

Read more . . .

You might also enjoy this video,
“47 Charming Facts About Children’s Books”



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Filed under Children's Literature, Famous Authors, Trivia, Uncategorized

Peter Rabbit and Beatrix Potter’s Secret Diary

It’s Easter week, Holy week, the week when Christians celebrate Resurrection Sunday. It’s also the week when children eagerly anticipate the arrival of the bunny.

Of course, the most famous bunny is Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter’s timeless creation. Did you know that “The Tale Of Peter Rabbit,” received multiple rejections before it was finally published? More than 45 million copies have been sold in more than 35 languages, and the book has never been out of print.

Now here is something you probably don’t know—

When Beatrix Potter was fifteen, she began a journal written in a secret code of her own invention. Even Beatrix herself, when she read back over it in later life, found it difficult to understand.

The only surviving entries of this diary are between 1881 and 1897. Unlike other secret diaries – which held secrets that could ruin careers or cost lives – this diary was personal, expressing feelings that she wished to hide. It is commonly believed that the code was to save it from being read by her mother, with whom she did not have a good relationship.

But Emma Laws, the Frederick Warne curator of children’s literature at the Victoria and Albert Museum, thinks differently.

“A lot of things in the diary would not be seen as right for a Victorian girl to mention. It contained much bitterness and disappointment,” she says.

Ms. Laws admits however, that no-one can ever be quite sure. “It could also be her imagination. There is sense of creativity devising a code.”

The code was cracked by Leslie Linder, a lifelong collector of Beatrix Potter artefacts. The documents were not found until the middle of the 1950s, and the mystery was not solved until 20 years after Beatrix’s death: on Easter Monday 1958.

[Text credit: “The Secret Code of Diaries” by Alex Hudson. BBC Radio. 29 August 2008]

Tuesday 17 November, 1890

“I remember I used to half believe and wholly play with fairies when I was a child. What heaven can be more real than to retain the spirit-world of childhood, tempered and balanced by knowledge and common-sense, to fear no longer the terror that flieth by night, yet to feel truly and understand a little, a very little of the story of life.”

If you’d like to read more, the decoded journal is available as a book published in 2006 by Penguin Young Readers. You can find and read an excerpt here on Amazon.com.

Until next time, I wish all of you a blessed Holy Week,
and I hope you’ll find a copy of “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” 
AND a copy of the journal
in your Easter baskets.


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Filed under Children's Literature, Famous Authors