Yesterday, Robert Munsch turned 70. If you are not familiar with Robert’s work, he is one of the most famous children’s authors in North America. Most of his books are delightfully lively and humorous. Much like a comedian, he likes to take a simple, truthful situation in a child’s life and show the funny side to it. A delightful example of this is his book I Have to Go Pee, which depicts a child getting bundled into a snow suit and then announcing “I have to go pee!”. His books usually unfold in a pattern that children love to anticipate and participation in.
Beyond his writing style, I love his telling style, as he is a storyteller in the true sense of the word. He tells stories (like a performance) and he is very good at it. I (Cathy) have had the privilege of working with Bob (Robert is his “author” name) several times as I am also a storyteller. He is a delight to work with. Bob’s background has always intrigued me. He studied to become a Jesuit priest, but after working in orpahanages and daycare centers, he decided he would rather work with children. After graduating with his Masters in Education, he moved to Canada (he is American) and worked in the preschool at the university of Guelph. That was where he started telling stories. People encouraged him to submit the stories he told and he eventually got one published. The rest, as they say, is history.
One of Munsch’s best-known books Love You Forever, was listed fourth on the 2001 Publishers Weekly All-Time Best selling Children’s Books selling 6,970,000 copies (not including the 1,049,000 hardcover copies). In celebration of Bob’s birthday, the cbc hosted a web page for Bob (link below) on which you can vote for your favorite Munsch book. I suspect Love You Forever will win, as I personally meet parent and educators worldwide that love that book. I will also vote for Love You Forever but it is not the American version I love. It is the Japanese version. I once hosted an event in my home honoring a group of storytellers that came over from Japan. Many Canadian storytellers and authors came to the event and, of course, Bob came too. Graciously, these people gave away copies of their books as welcome gifts to Canada. As there were about 15 Canadian tellers and authors, Bob just kind of blended in with the crowd, and I knew my foreign guests had no idea who he was or how well known he is. That is-until they got home and Love You Forever was released in Japan, and became an enormous hit. One of my guests sent me a copy of the Japanese version and a picture of her and two of her friends taken with Bob. She was so excited and grateful to have met such an amazing/famous storyteller in person. Bob, being Bob, would not have thought anything of it. He’s just that kind of person. Below are pictures of the book my guest sent me. I find the illustrations in this version tender and beautiful. As Bob wrote this story in memory of one of his own children that passed away, I think the illustrations are most appropriate. That’s my Munsch favorite. What’s yours? http://www.cbc.ca/books/munsch70/index.html