Munsch, Robert

Robert Munsch:
A Report by Emily in Grade Eight

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Aaron’s Hair (Scholastic Canada Ltd., 2000) is a story about a boy named Aaron who is having a bad hair day. When he yells at his hair, “I HATE YOU HAIR!”, the hair gets upset and runs away from him. How will Aaron get his hair back?!

Look At Me (North Winds Press, 2008) is all about Madison, a little girl on a visit with her grandmother who gets her face painted with a picture of one really real rose. Suddenly, the rose starts to duplicate and become really real. How will she get people to believe her that this really real rose is actually really real?

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Millicent And The Wind (Annick Press, 1992) talks about a young girl, Millicent, who lives up in the mountains, three days away from any civilization, who befriends the wind. She was happy with the wind until people started teasing her about it. So, Millicent asked the wind for a human friend and the wind flew all around the world and brought her back a boy with whom she can play tag, a friend.

More Pies (Scholastic Canada Ltd., 2002) tells the story of a young boy named Samuel, a hungry, young, growing boy, who just cannot get enough to eat. Feeling challenged, he heads to the pie eating contest in town and eats six whole pies without falling under a table or turning green. But what happens when he finds out his mom made him more pies for lunch?

Mud Puddle (Annick Press, 1979) tells the story of a girl, Jule Ann, who just wants to play outside, under the tree and in her sandbox, but just keeps on getting jumped on by a mud puddle. Not knowing how to fight a mud puddle, she goes with what any person would use to target dirt… soap!

The Paper Bag Princess (Annick Press, 1980) is a story about a beautiful Princess, Elizabeth, who was set to marry handsome Prince Ronald. Their life comes to a stop, though, when a dragon comes in and destroys their castle and kidnaps Ronald.  Elizabeth throws on a paper bag and sets out to find him. However, Ronald just might not be the right prince for her at all.

Pigs (Annick Press Ltd., 1989) is about a young girl, Megan, who was told to feed the pigs but not to open the gate. She does, of course, and causes a whole lot of pig-tastrophe in her school, kitchen and school bus!

A Promise Is A Promise (Annick Press, 1992) is about a girl, Allashua, who disobeys her parents and goes fishing on the sea ice. She has to use her cleverness to escape and trick the Qallupilluit when she promises to bring her siblings back to them.

Purple, Green and Yellow (Annick Press, 1992) talks about a girl, Bridget, who had to have the best colouring markers, smelly ones, washable ones and super-indelible-never-come-off-till-your-dead-and-maybe-even-later ones. Although she promised to never draw on walls or floors, she managed to draw on herself with the super-indelible-never-come-off-till-your-dead-and-maybe-even-later markers and ended up getting herself and her family in quite a pickle.

Thomas’ Snowsuit (Annick Press, 2011) is a story about a stubborn little boy who will do anything to not put on his snowsuit, including messing up his teacher’s and principal’s outfits; sometimes, people are better off just suiting themselves.

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Robert Munsch

When you think of Robert Munsch, all you think of is probably a ponytail at the front of some girl’s head, a little boy flushing his mom’s favourite watch down the toilet, or even a princess running around chasing a dragon with nothing more than a paper bag on her. But do you really know Robert Munsch? His early life? How he became the writer he is today? Or where he is now in life? Honestly, not many people do. To most, he is just that author whose books we would be read before we went to bed.

Robert Munsch was born on June 11, 1945, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His father had a job as a lawyer and the family lived in a big farmhouse. Robert grew up in a large family with 8 siblings. He had five brothers and three sisters. Growing up with lots of people meant lots of different personalities. This is what gave Robert the advantage of finding out what people like and do not like. During his school years, he wrote poems and they were often humorous but no one, including Robert, really noticed except for the school librarian, Sister Emma Jean. She encouraged Robert to read and write more, and often had him help her with library duties like cataloguing. He went to see her often because he liked the feeling of knowing some one had faith in him.

Robert struggled. It wasn’t that he was unintelligent. It was that he would always daydream and not pay attention. This followed him all the way through high school. Teachers believed in him and knew he was a smart boy but they were not able to get him to his full potential in math or writing. During these years he found his mood often shifting from sad to happy, and so he took shelter in books.

When he graduated from high school, he studied to become a Jesuit priest. While he was studying for that he went to school and finished a degree in history before moving on to major in anthropology. Since he was becoming a priest, he found time to help others. He volunteered at a local orphanage and that is where he discovered his love for children.

Robert studied to become a priest for a while, but after he had a mugging incident he changed his mind. His work at the orphanage led him to a daycare centre. This is where he met his wife, Ann. They first met when they were changing a baby’s diaper, and she fell for his kindness towards children. The two started dating immediately and soon found out that they were in love.

Robert started developing his skills right away and went back to university to learn more about children and their behavior. It was during his studies when he became aware that he had a talent for storytelling. One afternoon when he was teaching a preschool class, he went with the flow and started telling a story off the top of his head which is one of his most famous: Mortimer. Robert earned his masters degree in child studies in 1973.

That same year, he and Ann got married. During the early years of their marriage, they worked in various daycares where Robert could tell stories and Ann could care for the children. When Robert got offered a job in Ontario, Canada – to teach at a university –  they had to move. At that university, Robert taught people the ways of caring for young children, and at the same time, ran his own preschool with Ann. His life was good and he was on a steady road until his moods started playing around again. Ann suggested he see a doctor. They later found out he had bipolar disorder but fortunately, it was treatable. After he started taking his medications, his life was back on track.

Everyone loved Robert’s stories, and people often encouraged him to take up writing as a career. At first, he let it fly by and didn’t give it much thought, but then he thought why not? One day, the wife of Robert’s boss, came to the daycare and watched him tell his stories. After he was finished, she told him that he needed to start writing. Later on, Robert’s boss started talking to him, too, about getting his stories published. He then gave Robert a few months off to start writing and sending some books to publishers. Robert started right away and sent in ten books to a few publishers. Not expecting to receive any replies, he actually got a good response from one of the publishers which ended up publishing his first book: Mud Puddle. His book sold well and the publisher liked him and started publishing more of his books. So Robert left his university job to take up writing as a full time career. His reputation grew and he became widely known among children all over North America.

Today, Robert still lives in Ontario with Anne. They raised their three adopted children – Julie, Andrew, and Tyya – to adulthood. And over the years, Robert has won plenty of awards!  The audiotape of Murmel, Murmel, Murmel won a Juno Award in 1985. One year later, Thomas’ Snowsuit was awarded the Canadian Booksellers Association’s Ruth Schwartz Award for best children’s book. He was also awarded the Vicki Metcalf Award for Children’s Literature in 1987 by the Canadian’s Author Association and the “The Author Of The Year” in 1992. But the most memorable year for Robert was 1999, when he was awarded the Order of Canada. The Canadian government gives this award to people with outstanding achievements in their field of work.

Sadly, in 2008, Robert had a stroke. For a while, his speech was affected and he was unable to tell stories to children. Thankfully, he has recovered enough to read some books for people. In 2009, Robert received a star on Canada’s Walk Of Fame in Toronto. He has also had a school named after him. All in all, this may seem like the end of his writing, but don’t hold your breath. I think he has got more ideas coming that will make more marvelous children’s books.

Robert has affected children around the world wonderfully. Right from childhood on, all through his journey to success and through his difficulties, he keeps helping children and people everywhere he goes.

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Bibliography

Munsch, Robert. Aaron’s Hair. Toronto: Scholastic Canada Ltd., 2000.
Munsch, Robert. Look At Me. New York: North Winds Press, 2008.
Munsch, Robert. Millicent And The Wind. New York: Annick Press, 1992.
Munsch, Robert. More Pies. New York: Scholastic Canada Ltd., 2002.
Munsch, Robert. Mud Puddle. Toronto: Annick Press, 1979.
Munsch, Robert. The Paper Bag Princess. Toronto, Annick Press, 1980.
Munsch, Robert. Pigs. Toronto: Annick Press Ltd,. 1989.
Munsch, Robert. A Promise Is A Promise. Toronto: Annick Press, 1992.
Munsch, Robert. Purple, Green and Yellow. Toronto: Annick Press, 1992.
Robert Munsch. Thomas’ Snowsuit. New York: Annick Press, 2011.

 

 

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