The Authors I Love series is one of my favorite things on this whole blog. I have been writing about authors I love once a month for the past six months, and each one is meaningful to me. In order to talk intelligently about these authors, I’ve read interviews, scoured official (and unofficial) websites, and reread some of my favorite books. This month marks a first, however: the first time I have teared up while writing about an author. I knew all kinds of inspiring things about Robert Munsch when I sat down to write about him. After all, he has been a favorite of mine for years. It is the things I didn’t know that really got to me, and I can’t wait to tell you why he is so great. (When you see how much I have to say, just remember that I selected only my very favorite parts.)
About the Author
Robert Munsch is an American-born Canadian author of over 50 children’s books. By his own account, he was a terrible student whose teachers only passed him because he had a younger brother in the grade below him. Just about the only thing he did consistently in school was write poetry, but no one (including him) thought much about that. He took a job at a daycare after completing a Master’s degree in Anthropology while he tried to figure out what he wanted to do with his life. Lo and behold, he discovered he really wanted to work right there. During his years at the daycare, he began telling stories to get the kids to stay quiet during nap time until he had a decent repertoire of stories. At one point, his wife’s boss (who was a children’s librarian) encouraged him to write down his stories, which is how his career as an author began. He still loves to tell stories and often drops by schools unannounced to visit students and tell them a story. He and his wife have adopted three children. He has also spoken publicly about his mental health and addiction problems. His honestly and encouragement of others are inspiring.
About the Books
Munsch’s career really took off after he published Love You Forever, which he wrote as a memorial to two stillborn babies he and his wife lost. The book (and story behind it) is heartbreakingly beautiful, but it isn’t my favorite example of what he does so well. His books are generally funny and a little bit odd, and they all start as oral stories he makes up on the spot everywhere from school visits to storytelling festivals to entertaining the child in the seat next to him on a plane. When a story is loved by audiences of different ages from different parts of Canada (usually many years later and many changes later), he writes it down. He does not write about the same characters from book to book (much to his publisher’s dismay) because each book is its own story, often inspired by a real child. His illustrator even uses a picture of the child as inspiration when illustrating the books. Because he details how each story came to be on his website (why yes, I did spend an evening reading through them all), I learned that More Pies! started out as a story he told before lunch to make kids laugh at a childcare center in Oregon and was not based on any particular child. He had been telling the story for over 20 years (always about a boy named Samuel) before he published the book. Rather than pick just any child to inspire the illustrations, he decided to wait until he got a fan letter from a Samuel. A few months later, he got one! After exchanging letters back and forth with his young fan Samuel, Robert Muncsh changed some parts of the story to match Samuel’s life and family. So cool, right? I could go on and on, but you might just want to hop over and read them yourself.
Before I learned even more about his methods, my favorites were The Paper Bag Princess; Purple, Green, and Yellow; and Show and Tell. Now that I’ve read through the stories behind the books, I desperately want to get my hands on Playhouse, Mud Puddle, and Moira’s Birthday (just for starters).
Are there any other Robert Munsch fans out there? Which favorites should I be sure to read?