Barnaby on the radio

The first dramatic adaptation of Crockett Johnson‘s Barnaby appeared on the Frank Morgan Show of June 12, 1945.  Morgan (best known as the title character in MGM’s Wizard of Oz) played Mr. O’Malley, Norma Jean Nilsson played Barnaby, and Ralph Bellamy played Mr. Baxter. The radio dramatization begins in the second half of the show — at 15:30 of the…

Syd Hoff, A. Redfield, and Me

Meeting interesting people is one of the benefits of writing a biography.  I never met Syd Hoff (1912-2004) in person, but we corresponded and talked on the phone in 2000.  You may know Hoff as the author of Danny and the Dinosaur (1958) or as the creator of over hundreds of New Yorker cartoons.  As A….

Safety Last

When I was about 9 years old, watching television one weekend afternoon, I saw a black-and-white film of a bespectacled man climbing the side of a building.  He ascends a floor, narrowly misses falling, is about to enter the building through the window — then, another man emerges, with a policeman in pursuit, and tells…

Crockett Johnson & Ruth Krauss: biography outtakes, Part 3

Working in a little biography-editing while at the American Studies Association conference in San Antonio.  (Why, yes, I would like some more workahol.  Thank you for offering!)  I’ve just condensed three paragraphs on Crockett Johnson‘s visit to Commonwealth College (radical labor school in Mena, Arkansas, 1922-1940) down to a single paragraph.  For the record, that…

Harry Potter and the Two-Part Finale

In advance of the film’s release, Kansas State University’s Media Relations asked us to talk about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  We did.  They taped us, and edited the results down to 3 minutes.  Karin is on the right.  And that’s me on the left. They also put out a news release on Friday…

Anita’s Got a Brand New Blog

Anita Silvey has a new blog.  Well, she started it late last month.  But I just began reading it.  If you have any interest in children’s literature, you’ll want to read it, too.  Here’s why. Anita Silvey really knows children’s literature. She’s a former editor at Houghton Mifflin, former Editor-in-Chief of the Horn Book, and…

Barnaby. In Color.

Here is one origin story for Crockett Johnson’s classic Barnaby. At some point in early 1942, PM‘s Art Editor Charles Martin visited Crockett Johnson at his home in Darien Connecticut.  There, he saw a half-page color Sunday Barnaby strip.  Johnson had been unable to sell it.  Martin liked the strip, took it back to New York,…