A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Happy birthday George Sullivan (Helen Keller: Her Life in Pictures), Joanna Cole (The Magic School Bus series), and Sally Keehn (I Am Regina, The First Horse I See).
- Itâ€™s the birth date of Enid Blyton (1897-1968), Famous Five series, and Steven Kroll (1941-2011), Jungle Bullies, The Biggest Pumpkin Ever.
- In 1929, Babe Ruth becomes the first baseball player to hit 500 home runs. Read Home Run: The Story of Babe Ruth by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Mike Wimmer, and Cam Jansen and the Mystery of the Babe Ruth Baseball by David A. Adler.
- The first prisoners arrive at Alcatraz Island in 1934. Read Children Of Alcatraz: Growing Up on the Rock by Claire Rudolph Murphy and Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko.
On August 11, 1908, Don Freeman was born in San Diego, California. Freeman showed early skills as both a musician and an artist. In the late twenties he moved to New York City to make a living. He arrived a few days before the stock market crash and always carried a guilt complex about the event. Of course, work became hard to find. While playing jazz trumpet at music gigs, he took lessons with John Sloan at the Art Students League and drew character sketches wherever he went. One night on the subway, Don, who had been sketching, left his trumpet on the car. He always said that was the night he decided he would stick to drawing. Work for the WPA helped sustain Freeman through the worst of economic times.
Then in the fifties, with help from his wife, Lydia, Freeman began to fashion childrenâ€™s books for their son Royâ€”Pet of the Met, Norman the Doorman, and Mop Top. Freeman started a book based on his sonâ€™s nickname â€śCorduroyâ€ť called Corduroy, the Inferior Decorator, the story of a young boy who drove his parents nuts by painting the walls of their apartment. But several years later Freeman began to develop a story about a character who wanders around a department store at night. He was trying to explore the difference between the luxury of the store and the simple life that most people live. Then the image of a stuffed bear, wearing corduroy overalls and missing a button, came into Freemanâ€™s mind, and he knew he had the character heâ€™d been looking for.Â The 40th anniversary editon of Corduroy contains facsimiles ofÂ original publishing materials — theÂ manuscript, early sketches, and correspondence between Don Freeman and his editor Annis Duff.Â More information about Don Freemanâ€™s publishing history can be found on a website run by his son Roy Freeman.
In this heartwarming story, no one wants to buy Corduroy the bear from the department store because his overalls are missing a button. So one night he goes hunting around the store for one. He doesnâ€™t find it, but discovers lots of other exciting things outside the toy department. Fortunately, a young girl named Lisa does want to buy Corduroy and provides him with both a home and a button. This story is perfectly pitched for a four- or five-year-old point of view. Corduroy experiences everything in an excited and wonderful way. As he climbs onto the escalator he exclaims, â€śCould this be a mountain? . . . Iâ€™ve always wanted to climb a mountain.â€ť
As art director of Viking, Barbara Hennessy had the privilege of working with Freeman on A Pocket for Corduroy. She was always amazed that Freemanâ€”a large man, full of life, energy, enthusiasm, and warmthâ€”could contain himself enough to work in scratchboard, a technique that requires patience and precision. Characters often serve as alter egos: Don, according to Barbara, was much like Corduroy; and his wife, Lydia, exactly like the lovely and charming Lisa. Barbara says, the Corduroy stories have â€śa sense of discovery, humor, adventure, and friendship. Everything you hope that life will bring. The books about Corduroy satisfy readers completely on an emotional level.â€ť
HappyÂ birthday to Don Freeman. May Corduroy and A Pocket for Corduroy bring joy and happiness to children for generations to come.
Here’s a page from Corduroy:
Originally posted August 11, 2011. Updated for .