Happy 50th, Amelia …

h1 February 7th, 2013 by jules

Today over at Kirkus, I chat with Herman Parish. Herman is the nephew of Peggy Parish, the creator of the character Amelia Bedelia. Greenwillow/HarperCollins recently reissued Amelia’s first-ever tale, Amelia Bedelia, pictured below, published in 1963 and illustrated by Fritz Siebel. This 50th anniversary edition is filled with back matter about Parish and Siebel and the book’s creation, even including images of the book in its dummy stage. (I’ll have more on that next week here at 7-Imp).

The Q&A is here today. Enjoy.

One comment to “Happy 50th, Amelia …”

  1. Thought I’d republish this here from my blog, since it’s pertinent to the topic at hand:

    I had an almost existential experience tonight reading through a children’s book. It’s our daughter’s 3rd birthday today, and our baby sitter brought her a favorite from her childhood: Amelia Bedelia, which has just been reissued by Harper Collins in a 50th anniversary edition. I had not seen this book at all since I was a very young child, and something strange happened to me while leafing through the pages.
    The first thing I noticed was the color green. It’s the book’s only color. But this was no ordinary green. It was a very specific green, painted with subtle texture and weight by the book’s illustrator, Fritz Siebel, to show dust, lemon meringue pie, drapes, and bath towels. And with each page turn, a strange sensation would come over me – it was the muscle memory stored inside of me of how this book, this green book, felt for my three or four year old self. Words even popped off the page with visceral memories and recognition: towels, dusting powder, drapes, lights, bulbs. Words I was just beginning to understand and place in the drawers of my brain’s filing folders. Words that became locked in their association with a certain splash of color or form.
    As my adult self began to take in this story for the first time since those impressionable childhood moments, something wondrous and then terrifying happened. Wondrous because I was able to, for a brief moment, remember what it felt like to be able to associate colors with smells, words with feelings, visual shapes with tactile “realness”. Terrifying because these very real and pre-language feelings were almost instantaneously replaced by the ordering habits of the grown-up mind. The ephemeral, tasty experience of reading this book as a child came back to me for a moment and was then swept away by my cognitive understanding of the actual story, the actual meaning, the actual construction of a book and its intended story line. Certainly, the experience of a good children’s book is far more interesting for kids than for adults who quickly assign meaning, judgment, and structure. As kids, it can all just float and mingle.
    It was a real surprise to feel this again, and all it took was a certain color of green.

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