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Book Review: Robert Munsch by Frank B. Edwards

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Robert Munsch is one of Canada’s most well known children’s authors, and is in fact Canada’s 78th most famous Canadian in history according to the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). He is particularly beloved by parents and teachers for his works read-aloud appeal and repetitive phrasing that encourages children to join and engage with his stories verbally. My own elementary school memories are filled with enthusiastic chanting along with the repeated choruses and boisterous laughter that accompanied the reading of his stories. It was with much delight that I encountered a juvenile biography of Robert Munsch written by Frank B. Edwards.

Edwards traces Munsch’s life from birth into a large Roman Catholic family through high school, a Jesuit novitiate, college, daycare work, teaching at the University of Guelph, and into his career as a full time-storyteller and into the present. Filled with photographs from Munsch’s own collection readers young and old are treated to an overview of the author’s life.

Written in a light and simple style, readers will easily enter into the personal world of a favourite author. Glimpses into the inspiration for several of his most-loved books include such titles such as The Paper Bag Princess, Thomas’ Snowsuit, Love You Forever, and many others. Edwards successfully draws out both the serious, quiet aspect of Munsch’s personality when in the presence of adults, and his zany, boisterous, and fun-loving side when interacting with children. His life-long love of literature, storytelling, and children is an ongoing thread throughout his entire adult years and is still present in the personal interaction and frequent school visits that Munsch conducts on his own dime.

All the major periods of Munsch’s life are explored in enough depth to give readers a level of knowledge of his life and career far beyond that of the casual fan. A timeline of Munsch’s life, index, and list of published works are included for easy reference. Edwards hits the high points while not becoming bogged down in needless detail and overwhelming young readers. Little ones will be excited to read of Munsch’s early love of books, adopted children, and interaction with pint-sized fans. Adults will be intrigued by his unconventional policy on school visitation and his anthropological approach to children’s stories that results in tried and tested stories long before publication.

As Canada’s bestselling author (over 30 million copies to date), it’s about time a biography of this caliber has been written for Munsch’s fans both young and old. Robert Munsch makes an excellent introduction or conclusion to a period of time spent reading through Munsch’s works, though some prior familiarity with his books adds to the pleasure gained by acquiring knowledge of the author as a man.

Whether introduced formally to begin or end an official period of study, or casually incorporated after a passion for Munsch’s stories had been developed, readers young and old alike will delight in the additional knowledge that makes Robert Munsch seem even more of a friend than ever before. Personally, I was captivated by the insights into his life, it will be a few days yet before I’m able to stop sharing tidbits from Munsch’s life with my family.

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About Jennifer Bogart