• While she was in the second grade, children’s book illustrator Lane Smith entered her pet, Okie, in a dog show at school. Surprisingly, Okie was given a ribbon, and Lane’s mother praised Okie and told Lane that everyone was proud of Okie. Lane then looked at the ribbon — it said, “Participation.”
• Children’s book author and illustrator Dr. Seuss read one newspaper each day. For a while, he subscribed to two newspapers, but the family Irish setter, Cluny, was used to bringing only one newspaper into the house, so she buried the second newspaper.
• Children’s book illustrator Maira Kalman is allergic to dogs, so when her children decided that they wanted a dog as a pet, they had to settle for getting a talking bird and teaching it how to bark.
• When American artist Donald Sultan was 11 years old, his parents took him to see the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida. At the circus museum, he saw a work of art titled “The Giant.” His mother told him that she had sat on the giant’s knee when she was a little girl and that his ring was so big that a half-dollar could pass through it. Mr. Sultan says, “It was at that moment that the art and the magic merged and I decided to be an artist myself.”
• Some artists suffer — as do their families. To become an artist, Paul Gauguin gave up a career as a stockbroker. Due to financial difficulties, his wife moved back to her native Denmark. Only occasionally was Mr. Gauguin able to see his children, and when he did, only his two oldest children were able to speak his language: French.
• As a man of some experience with children, Texas actor Marco Perella knows how to calm babies. One trick he uses is to put the baby’s head against his chest, then to hum “Old Man River” in a deep bass. The vibration mesmerizes the baby, making it quiet. While he was doing a TV movie scene for Murder in the Heartland with Renée Zellweger, the baby she was holding started crying. Marco took the baby, hummed “Old Man River” and quieted it, then gave it back to Renée. The baby started crying again. This happened a couple of times, and the director asked what was going on. Renée replied, “This baby hates me.” No problem, the director said, they could use a back-up baby in the scene. Unfortunately, the back-up baby behaved exactly the same way as the first baby. Marco hummed “Old Man River” and quieted the baby, then handed it to Renée, and the baby started crying. Eventually, the scene was filmed with Marco holding the baby, and if you listen carefully during the scene, you can hear the humming of “Old Man River.”
• Early in her career, when soprano Rita Hunter had a young child, a situation arose suddenly where she needed to be at an important rehearsal and her husband needed to be in a hospital. Having no babysitter because they were so new to the neighborhood, but needing one desperately, she gathered her baby’s things, knocked on the door of a neighbor, explained the situation hurriedly, shoved the baby into the neighbor’s arms, and ran off. Luck was with her. She hadn’t left her daughter in the hands of a dangerous person, but in the hands of a most excellent babysitter, whom she thanked by name — Auntie Symes — in her autobiography, Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie.
• When Lois Lowry, author of the children’s book Anastasia Krupnik, was seven years old, she wanted a puppy, so her family arranged to have a puppy delivered as a surprise for her when young Lois was alone at their house. When her family returned home, they discovered Lois sitting on a chest of drawers, afraid of the sharp-toothed puppy. Later, Lois grew used to the puppy, but when it bit her baby brother, her parents said that they had to get rid of it. Lois agreed, but she was surprised when her parents got rid of the puppy — she had thought they were going to get rid of her baby brother.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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