Children's Authors/Robert Munsch
Biographical Information[edit | edit source]
Robert N. Munsch is a famous Canadian author of over 40 books who has delighted readers all over the world. His books have been translated into 12 languages and produced on cassette, video, CD ROM, television and stage. He has won numerous Canadian awards.
Munsch was born June 11, 1945 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. He was a middle child of nine children. On his website he said that he didn't do well in elementary school, but he wasn't held back because he had a smart younger brother in the grade behind him and they didn't want them in the same grade. When he was 12 he was knocked out by his brother when he kicked him in the mouth just after his braces had been removed. His father says he has been acting strangely ever since. 
After high school Munsch attended a school for Jesuit priests for seven years, during which time he also worked part-time at an orphanage. He found his love of storytelling while telling stories to the children to get them ready to take naps. During that same time he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Fordham University in Bronx, New York. He also earned a Master's Degree in anthropology from Boston University in 1971.
He married Ann Beeler in 1973 and they have three children. They ran a daycare center in Oregon until it lost its funding in 1976. They moved to Canada where they both worked at the University of Guelph in Ontario in the Family Studies Laboratory Preschool. Munsch became an assistant professor there in 1980. His boss's wife heard him telling stories and encouraged him to write them down. After his boss told him to take two months off from work, he felt encouraged enough to actually begin writing his stories.
Munsch published his first story, Mud Puddle in 1980. After his next book, The Paper Bag Princess, sold really well, he quit his job and started writing and telling stories full-time.
His most famous book is Love You Forever. It is made from a song that Munsch wrote as a memorial after he and his wife gave birth to two stillborn children in 1979 and 1980.
Munsch has spent many years storytelling around the world. He loves to drop in on elementary schools that have students who have written to him. He often makes up stories using a child's name from the audience. Sometimes those have been turned into books he published.
During an interview he said, "Every author has different ways of writing and what works for one author does not necessarily work for another. I do know, however, that writing is a bit like swimming. You learn writing by doing it and you learn swimming by doing it. Nobody learns how to swim by reading a book about swimming and nobody learns how to write by reading a book about writing. If you want to learn how to write, write a lot and you will get better at it."
Books of Interest[edit | edit source]
The Paper Bag Princess, published 1980, is a not so typical fairytale told in third person narrative mode. Munsch uses precise vocabulary to make things come to life; for example, he uses the simple yet specific word “Bum” to put Prince Ronald in his rightful place. Munsch also utilizes metaphors to liven the story when necessary such as, “The dragon didn’t even have enough fire left to cook a meatball.” The Paper Bag Princess contains a few multimodal techniques; for example, he has the words express bold meaning through utilization of bolded/uppercause letters. One of the more important aspects of this book deals with the unexpected insights found; for instance, The Paperbag Princess seems to say you don’t always have to do what society expects you to. This book will intrigue readers due to it’s not so ordinary plot, and unexpected and humorous ending that children love.
I Have to Go!, published in 1983, is an amusing book that will engage readers due to its comical plot surrounding something we all have been through and parents know all too well: potty training. Just like many of his books, Munsch has a fun and simple usage of words that children love and other authors might shy away from; for instance, he is not at all bashful when his character screams, “I HAVE TO GO PEE! (He could have chosen, “I have to go to the bathroom,” but did not). He also utilizes other fun writing styles such as: repetition, onomonopia (“screech” and” varoom”, for example), a continuation of bold and upper case letters(a multimodal technique), and hyperboles. Children will be engaged because of Munsch’s fun and unexpected ending (which is a consistent trait throughout all of Munsch’s writing).
The Fire Station, published in 1991, continues to us uses fun and precise words such as, “enormous,” “slammed,” “pounded” to help portray a fun story about a very curiously bold Sheila and her tag-a-long friend Michael. “Lots of yucky-colored smoke got all over everything,” is a hyperbole that exaggerates the situation making it very entertaining. The musical language found in this story also makes it fun to read; for example, Munsch uses lots of repetition to make Sheila’s lie even more humorous. Something that hasn’t been mentioned yet is that the pictures help you see other perspective (mainly adults) in a humorous way -–this is something that Munsch’s illustrator, Michael Martchenko, utilizes throughout Munsch’s books. The Fire Station is an engaging book because the author makes it clear something mischievous will happen, and readers will want to see what it is.
Something Good, published in 1996, is a book that is also very comical, and like most of his work, it is in third person point of view. In this book, Munsch continues to utilize a multimodal technique; for example, the words express bold meaning through the all caps type setting. Munsch also continues to utilize fun writing styles like repetition and onomonopia. Kids will be sucked into this book due to Munch’s humor and a plot that, although unpredictable, deals with events children relate to easily. Of course, like most of Munch’s literature, there is a theme behind the humorous story: love, specifically love for family.
Stephanie’s Ponytail, published in 1996, is another humorous story about a girl named Stephanie who outwits her other schoolmates and teachers. After reading this book, it seems that Munsch wanted to teach children that they can be confident with whom they are and the choices they make. The expressions on the faces that Martchenko, the illustrator, makes are hilarious and continue to help us understand their points of view. It is also evident that Munch continues utilizing bold words to add emphasis on the page, repetition, and onomonopia.
50 Below Zero, was published in 1986 is our last short story we will annotate. It is a book that will make you smile and is told in third person narrative. Its plot will suck kids in: about a boy who, like many of Munsch’s characters, takes matters into his own hands to save his father in an amusing and unpredictable way. The words, “Glug, glug, glug,” are a great representation of a fun vocabulary and multimodal technique; for example, the words are placed in a fashion that represents someone glugging, and they give us another medium to understand and entertain. There is a theme of independence throughout Munch's work that is also evident in this book.
References[edit | edit source]
Robert Munsch Website http://www.robertmunsch.com
Interview with Children's Author Robert Munsch.2006 http://blogcritics.org/books/article/interview-with-childrens-author-robert-munsch.com
Robert Munsch Biography http://www.jrank.org/literature/pages/8396/Robert-Munsch.html
Picture Books Author of the Month-Robert Munsch http://www.yourlibrary.ws/childrens_webpage/e-author62001.htm
Robert Munsch. Something Good. Michael Martchenko. Annick Press (U.S.) Ltd. 1990.
Robert Munsch. Stephanie's Ponytail. Michael Martchenko. Annick Press (U.S.) Ltd. 1996.
Robert Munsch. Mud Puddle. Sami Suomalainen. Annick Press (U.S.) Ltd. 1995.
Robert Munsch. Munschworks (The First Munsch Collection). Michael Martchenko. Annick Press (U.S.) Ltd. 1998.
Robert Munsch. 50 Below Zero. Michael Martchenko. Annick Press (U.S.) Ltd. 1995.