Thursday, May 29, 2008

Herman Parish - Author - visits Woodbury

Special thanks to Enrichment teacher Stephanie Foran who handled all of the arrangements to bring a real author to Woodbury this week. This assembly program is just one of many special schoolwide enrichment experiences that Mrs. Foran scheduled for elementary students during the 2007-08 school year.

On Tuesday of this week, Woodbury schools hosted Herman Parish, author of the more recent Amelia Bedelia stories.

Mr. Parish spoke at all three schools and visited with the children in kindergarten through third grade. It was fun to have a “big time” author in the schools!

Perhaps one Walnut student summed up the vividness of the day as only a young child can. Before the assembly began, the second grader walked right up to Mr. Parish with his eyes opened wide with excitement and exclaimed with pride, "I READ YOUR BOOKS!"

Some of the highlights from Mr. Parish's comments:

"In true Amelia Bedelia fashion, I backed into writing these books about the literal-minded housekeeper who children laugh at and love.

Amelia Bedelia was created by my aunt, Peggy Parish. Although she passed away in 1988, Peggy still received fan mail from children. They wondered when the next Amelia Bedelia book would be out. Then other children's authors wrote and volunteered to continue the series.

I felt uneasy about Amelia Bedelia leaving our family. As I was in the fourth grade when she first appeared, I had literally grown up with her. So I decided to try to write a new Amelia Bedelia adventure. My two sisters and my family were supportive and encouraged me.

I'd had experience in writing advertisements. I reread the Amelia Bedelia stories to figure our what made them funny. I realized that everyday life overflows with idiomatic expressions, literalisms and homophones. It's amazing more people don't get confused — besides Amelia Bedelia!

My first book, Good Driving, Amelia Bedelia, took me a year to think about and one night to write. I had been collecting ideas, homonyms, and expressions. Whenever I heard them, I jotted them down: on napkins in restaurants, on my newspaper while riding the bus, and on agenda sheets in business meetings.

I stockpiled these fragments in a folder until one Sunday night, with my family asleep, I decided that it was now or never. I sat down around ten o'clock and began to write. I was so focused on the story that I finished as the sun came up on Monday morning. Naturally, the story needed revision, but the essence was captured in that all-night writing spree.

I am fortunate that my editor, Susan Hirschman, and the illustrator, Lynn Sweat, had worked with Peggy on many Amelia Bedelia books That helped make the transition from Peggy's books to mine as seamless as possible.

I feel very lucky to be writing Amelia Bedelia books and continuing a family tradition. But the best reward was when a child wrote Peggy Parish a fan letter. It said that Good Driving Amelia Bedelia was the best book she had written. To me, that the highest compliment I could hope for."


* Amelia Bedelia and the Cat (April 2008)
* Amelia Bedelia's Masterpiece (2007)
* Amelia Bedelia Under Construction (2006)
* Amelia Bedelia, Rocket Scientist? (2005)
* Be My Valentine, Amelia Bedelia (2005)
* Happy Haunting, Amelia Bedelia (2004)
* Amelia Bedelia Goes Back to School (2004)
* Amelia Bedelia and the Christmas List (2003)
* Amelia Bedelia, Bookworm (2003)
* Calling Doctor Amelia Bedelia (2002)
* Amelia Bedelia 4 Mayor (1999)
* Bravo, Amelia Bedelia! (1997)
* Good Driving, Amelia Bedelia (1995)

Additional comments from the author:

"Children love the literal humor of Amelia Bedelia. It's a fun way for them to explore homonyms and idiomatic expressions. They not only gain an appreciation for the richness of the English language, they wake up to fresh possibilities for expressing themselves. I try to build confidence in a child's ability as a writer. I want to create a sense that what they think and feel is worth recording and sharing."

"The children are fascinated with the little notebook I carry to jot down my ideas. It helps to instill in them a habit of observing and writing. Teachers tell me that my examples of editing encourage their students to review and rework their writing before they submit it. I believe that after my presentation, children have a greater respect for writing and recognize what it takes to achieve their potential as writers."

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