A while ago WD Fyfe posted “Stuff I’ve Learned from Literature,” a collection of life’s lessons from the pages of best sellers such as “never volunteer for anything” as taught by The Hunger Games. In a comment I added “never underestimate the power of a woman” learned from “anything by Ian Fleming” to which he replied, “Including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” Of course my reference to Ian Fleming was to the Bond Girls of the 007 franchise but the famous children’s story turned movie has several strong female characters. Perhaps a Fleming trait?
You didn’t know that the author of sixteen Bond, James Bond spy novels tossed in one book about a magical car? He did. Published right between You Only Live Twice and The Man with the Golden Gun it was the last book he wrote. Based on bedtime stories he told his son Casper, he wrote as he convalesced from a heart attack from which he never fully recovered.
That got me thinking which as you know not only do I have the time for but is also rarely a good thing yet often results in a blog post. Thank you Bill.
So … the world is full of talented authors and more than a few of them are both quite well known and are parents. So how many of the well-known parents have favored their children with tales that themselves became well known in spite of the parent not being well known for authoring children’s books. I found three. Four if you stretch a point.
The second to come to mind and first in the “I didn’t know that” list is Mr. Fleming’ famous tale of the famous car. The first author famous for a child’s story harkening back to his child to come to mind but on the “but what else did he do” list is A. A. Milne. If before this summer’s film release you didn’t know Christopher Robin was indeed Christopher Robin Milne and Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, and Tigger were the younger Milne’s childhood toys, you do now. But before the poem featuring Winnie-the-Pooh appeared in When We Were Very Young, the elder Milne was known as a playwright.
Also on the list is one known more for penning songs. Kelly Clarkson, former “American Idol” winner and singer/songwriter has also published two children’s books inspired by and featuring her daughter River Rose. Though not yet classics, who knows what we might be saying about them in fifty years.
After extensive research spanning at least 30 minutes, the closest I could come to uncovering another author who was known for one thing but exploded on to the scene with a book inspired by an offspring is the historian Dorothy Kuhnhardt, author of the 1965 winner for longest title, Twenty Days: A Narrative in Text and Pictures of the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the Twenty Days and Nights That Followed–The Nation in Mourning, the Long Trip Home to Springfield. The book she wrote as her gift to her daughter is more succinctly titled Pat the Bunny. I say this is a bit of a stretch to my search because although Kuhnhardt was a legitimate historian and author, the books she is better known for are the children’s volumes which she was putting out before the first bunny was patted but the patting was going on before she wrote the first book. It’s all very confusing and probably doesn’t belong on the list but I liked the book both as readee and reader.
There are many well-known authors who have written children’s books but were they inspired by stories they told their own children? Google doesn’t know about any so I guess not. If you do, share, but be sure to tell Google too. Can you tell Google anything?