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Hi, I’m John Green. Welcome to my salon. This is Mental Floss on YouTube and did you
know that among all of the drawings in Norton Juster’s original The Phantom Tollbooth,
there is not a single drawing of Milo in a tollbooth.
Anyway, that’s the first of many facts about your favorite children’s books I’m going
to share with you about today.
When E.B. White was once asked why he wrote Charlotte’s Web, he responded with a two-and-a-half
page letter about spiders in his barn and pigs. Wait, did someone say pigs?
Time to put a quarter in the staff porkchop party fund! Man, that's some pig.
Anyway, at the end of the letter, he wrote, “I haven’t told why I wrote the book,
but I haven’t told why I sneeze, either. A book is a sneeze.”
Katherine Paterson, on the other hand, can tell you exactly where she found the inspiration
for Bridge to Terabithia: one of her son’s best friends, Lisa, was struck by lightning
and killed when they she was just eight years old.
As for the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, it was based in part on a 1965
story from the New York Times in which the Metropolitan Museum purchased a genuine Italian
Renaissance statue for just $225. So it was that combined with, you know, our universal
human desire to hide in bathrooms until museums close.
Maurice Sendak based the Where the Wild Things Are monsters on his Polish relatives who came
to live with his parents in New York after surviving the Holocaust. Sendak described
them as cheek-pinchers with crazy faces and wild eyes.
Before he became a famous author, by the way, Sendak illustrated Mrs. Piggle Wiggle's Farm,
which I bring up entirely because somebody just said "pig." Two quarters in one video,
what is it, my birthday?
Mrs. Piggle Wiggle is one of the many now-famous children’s stories that started out as an
attempt to lull the author’s small children to sleep. Others include Babar, Winnie-the-Pooh,
and The Hobbit.
“Sick,” “neurotic,” and “masochistic” are just a few of the words that critics have
used to refer to Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree.
Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham is a little less controversial. It was written after Seuss’
editor bet him that he couldn’t write a book using 50 words or less.
The 50 words are: a, am, and, anywhere, are, be, boat, box, car, could, dark, do, eat,
eggs, fox, goat, good, green, ham, here, house, I, if, in, let, like, may, me, mouse, not,
on, or, rain, Sam, say, see, so, thank, that, the, them, there, they, train, tree, try,
will, with, would, and you. I did it.
Speaking of Seuss, he wrote The Cat in the Hat because he thought that kids needed a
more interesting way to learn basic words than the boring Dick and Jane series.
Also, to make sure that his publisher was paying attention, Dr. Seuss inserted this
line into a first draft of Hop on Pop: "When I read I am smart / I always cut whole words
apart. / Con Stan Tin O Ple, Tim Buk Too / Con Tra Cep Tive, Kan Ga Roo." His publisher of
course WAS paying attention, and the line was later changed to: "My father / can read
/ big words, too. / Like... / Constantinople / and / Timbuktu."
Margaret Wise Brown had no children. She left all future proceeds of Goodnight Moon to a
neighbor, who was nine-years-old at the time. He has since made - and mostly spent - more
than $5 million off of it.
Mo Willems, best known for Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and Knuffle Bunny, started
his career as a writer and animator for Sesame Street, where he won six Emmys.
Not easy working for Sesame Street, for starters, you gotta know how to count.
Since it was first published in 1969, Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar has
sold a copy every minute.
Beatrix Potter, who wrote The Tale of Peter Rabbit, was notorious for disliking children,
this is actually pretty common among children's book writers. Not me. Others. According to
fellow kid’s author Roald Dahl, he convinced his mother take him to see Beatrix Potter
at her farm when he was just six. And Beatrix happened to be working outside when they arrived
and she asked Roald what he wanted. He told her that he wanted to meet Beatrix Potter,
to which she responded, "Well you've met her. Now buzz off.” Ugh, such a Mr. McGregor
The grown-up Dahl used to tell his daughters stories about one of his most famous characters,
The BFG, long before the book existed. And after he told his kids the BFG stories at
bedtime, he would climb a ladder outside of their bedroom window and use a bamboo cane
to blow dreams into their room, just like his big, friendly giant.
One more Roald Dahl tidbit: an early draft of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory featured
a sixth child in addition to Augustus, Mike, Violet, Veruca, and Charlie. Her name was
Miranda Piker, and she met her untimely demise when she was ground into powder by one of
Willy Wonka’s candy machines after refusing to listen to him.
So the next time you read The Polar Express - or anything else illustrated by Chris Van
Allsburg - keep an eye out for a white bull terrier. He sticks one into most of his works
in homage to his brother-in-law’s dog, Winston, who served as a model for his first book.
In The Polar Express, you can find a Winston puppet on the bedpost.
Margaret and H.A. Rey fled from France on bicycles during WWII, they escaped the Nazis
by mere hours. And included among the few possessions they took with them was a manuscript
for a book that would eventually become the Curious George. Which would then go on to
become an epically bad movie.
Pippi Longstocking’s full name is Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim's
Daughter Longstocking.
Ramona Quimby came about when Beverly Cleary noticed that every kid in her book Henry Huggins
was an only child. So to remedy this, she tossed in a little sister for Beezus. Speaking
of which, people often ask me why most of the kids in my book are only children. It's
a joke that I have with my brother.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., has said that he was inspired to become a falconer by Jean Craighead
George's My Side of the Mountain.
In all of R.L. Stine's Goosbumps series, nobody dies. How was it still so scary??
The author of Frog and Toad, Arnold Lobel was the father-in-law to Mark Linn-Baker,
AKA Cousin Larry on Perfect Strangers, which may help explain why Linn-Baker later played
Toad on Broadway. So look for Hank Green playing Augustus Waters in The Fault in our Stars
on Broadway later this year. That is a joke, just in case, like, EW wants to take that
out of context or something.
Audrey Penn was inspired to write The Kissing Hand when she saw a mother raccoon rubbing
her nose in her baby raccoon’s paw. Then the baby would rub its paw against its own
cheek, and the two would repeat the process over and over. A park ranger explained that
the mother was marking her baby with her scent so they could find each other if they got
separated. Penn wrote the story and I've been "aww-ing" ever since.
Other names considered for Nancy Drew: Diana Dare, Stella Strong, Helen Hale and Nan Nelson.
The names for the houses at Hogwarts came to J.K. Rowling while she was on a plane,
so she jotted them down on an airsickness bag, which she still has, by the way. Presumably,
it is otherwise unused.
The look for Anne of Green Gables was based on Evelyn Nesbit, one of the It Girls of the
early 1900s. It’s kind of like if Kim Kardashian had inspired the look of Katniss Everdeen.
Which maybe she did. Probably not.
Stan and Jan Berenstain didn't just write about their namesake bears. Among their other
credits: How to Teach Your Children About Sex.
The first incarnation of Corduroy the bear appeared in a story by author Don Freeman
called “Corduroy, the Inferior Decorator,” about a little boy who insisted on painting
all over the walls of his parents’ house. That book never saw the light of day, but
Freeman liked the name so he kept it when he created the popular teddy bear character.
Corduroy is a good name for a bear, but not as good as Mark's Cellophane.
In 1956, author Michael Bond saw a toy bear sitting alone on a shelf on Christmas Eve.
And he felt bad for the bear so he bought it. He named it Paddington because he and
his wife lived near Paddington Station in London at the time, and it was only later
that he started writing stories about the marmalade sandwich-loving bear.
Talking animals like Paddington once had no place in China. In fact, for a time, even
classics like Alice in Wonderland were banned in parts of the country, because, according
to a 1931 statement by General Ho Chien, "Bears, lions and other beasts cannot use a human
language. To attribute to them such a power is an insult to the human race." That's a
little overly sensitive. It's almost like he knew animals could talk.
Like sometimes I hear this donkey whisper, "Why are you making me wear a party hat and
a tutu?"
Despite the fact that the cover of Strega Nona declares that it’s “an old tale retold
and illustrated by Tomie De Paola,” the author actually invented the character. It
was his publisher’s idea to brand it as an old folktale.
Norman Bridwell almost called his famous big red dog “Tiny” until his wife suggested
Clifford — the name of her childhood imaginary friend.
Louis Sachar’s Holes was originally supposed to be called Wrong Place, Wrong Time, Wrong
Kid. Strangely enough, that’s kind of how I feel about Shia LaBeouf, who played Stanley
“Caveman” Yelnats in the film adaptation.
The author and illustrator of Madeline, Ludwig Bemelmans painted a mural of Central Park
at a bar in the the Carlyle Hotel. And he decided to include a Madeline cameo in the
mural. That's right - Madeline is chilling at a bar in NYC - “something is not right”
Between 1986 and 2000, Scholastic published 213 novels in the Baby-sitters Club series.
Each of them classics! In total there are more than 176 million copies of Baby-sitters
Club books in print.
A Wrinkle in Time was rejected by at least 26 publishers. Among their arguments were
that it was "too different", "because it deals overtly with the problem of evil,” and “was
it a children's or an adults' book, anyhow?"
There are persistent rumors that the title character from Kay Thompson’s Eloise was
inspired by her goddaughter, who grew up in hotels. But the goddaughter, who just happens
to be LIZA MINNELLI, says that that's not true.
The Olivia book series came about when author Ian Falconer decided to make a present for
his niece, Olivia.
After two decades of writing children’s books, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible,
No Good Very Bad Day's author Judith Viorst turned to Freudian psychology.
When The Boxcar Children was first published, there were some upset adults who felt that
children shouldn’t be enjoying themselves so much without any adult supervision. To
which I say, is being a kid hobo living in a BOXCAR really that fun?
A quarter of a million copies of Pat the Bunny are produced every year, enough to cover six
football fields in those tiny little squares of peekaboo cloth.
And lastly, I return to my salon to tell you that S.E. Hinton was just 17 when her novel
The Outsiders was published in 1967. And yes - she is a she. “S.E.” stands for Susan
Eloise. And even though The Outsiders came out almost 50 years ago, S.E. Hinton is still
writing books. And they're still very good.
Thanks for watching Mental Floss here on YouTube, which is made with the help of all these nice
people. Every week we endeavor to answer one of your mind-blowing questions. This week’s
question comes from Lucy who asks, “How many organs do people have?”
Well Lucy, it depends on your definition of organ. I mean, most people don't have any
organs at all, other people have bought, you know, one or two from a church or something.
Right, but we have to define what an organ is. The most widely accepted definition is
that an organ is a collection of tissues that work together to do something. But by this
definition, it means that, like, each individual bone and muscle counts as an organ and we
quickly reach, like, 1,000. So really, it depends. Maybe as few as 60, maybe as many
as 1,700.
Anyway, if you have a mind-blowing question you’d like answered, please leave it below
in comments and we’ll try to answer it. Thanks again for watching and as we say in
my hometown, don’t forget to be awesome.
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47 Charming Facts About Children's Books - mental_floss on YouTube (Ep.206)

3077 Folder Collection
稲葉白兎 published on September 16, 2014
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