Last night, sporting our green duds, Kate and I hopped over to Anderson’s Bookstore in downtown Naperville. It was an evening of kindergarten humor (underwear jokes and boogers) and the great author/illustrator of the “Arthur” adventure series Marc Brown. He was, well, in a word, “adorable.” I know, not many grandfatherly types would want to be identified as “adorable,” but I can’t think of a better way to describe this distinguished, yet down-to-earth guy who relates so well to children.
Mr. Brown began the evening with a quick question and answer for the kiddos. Many of whom were interested in how Arthur was created (a bad day at work, followed by his son’s request for a bedtime story.), why animals in his books/cartoons wear clothes (why not? Otherwise they would be in their underwear!….giggle, giggle), and how did Mr. Brown come up with the idea to hide his childen’s names–Tolon, Tucker, Eliza–into his drawings (home studio with ansty kids = a game to keep them quiet while dad worked), among many others. It also included a reading of the entire book as well as a quick art demonostration by Mr. Marc Brown. He makes it look soooo easy!
The “Arthur” series started about 35 years ago, when Arthur was a true aardvark, with a long, long nose children made fun of. Over the course of time, Arthur’s nose shrank and his family grew with the addition of Baby Kate. (And yes, I have a “baby Kate” as well!) In fact, Mr. Brown’s baby Kate was dervived from a real-life baby he knew, only that family referred to her as “Baby Cakes.” Marc Brown mentioned his “idea drawer” in which he collects things for his stories. One collection of such is names, “I love names, I am very fascinated by them. When I hear one I like, I put it in my idea drawer,” he tells us.
The “Arthur” television series wasn’t exactly in the cards, according to Marc Brown. Fred Rogers–a good friend of Mr. Brown’s suggested it would make great public television. Hummm… perhaps it is because of this obtuse connection that I feel so warmly towards “Arthur” and Marc Brown, after all, I grew up on Mr. Rogers!
Marc Brown’s newest book, “Arthur Turns Green” is all great for Earth Day and spring events. It’s all about becoming more eco-friendly. In fact, the fun promotional take-away was a packet of tomato seeds resembling the cover of the book.