Robert Munsch Author study by Kaleigh Krupski

"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." -Robert Munsch

Background information

Robert was born June 11, 1945 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. His family consisted of nine kids, including himself. For many grades; 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade, Robert was close to failing out of school. By the time he was in eighth grade he was still counting on his fingers. Throughout his elementary ages he spent a lot of time writing poetry. He liked the silly and funny poems but wrote in many different emotions. For seven years Robert studied to become a Jesuit Priest. He was getting his undergrad in History and later worked for his Masters in Anthropology, unfortunately for Robert he failed the test or his PH.D. From this point on Robert decided he was going to do something different with his life.

Robert's Inspiration

After Robert decided that becoming a priest was not for him, he started to work part-time at a daycare. When he worked at the daycare he would spend a lot time telling the children stories. He enjoyed making them laugh and coming up with something different that no one else had heard before. While working at the daycare he started to go back to school to become a teacher. During his year of student teaching Robert created his very first story during circle time, "Mortimer". This book eventually published 12 years later. Robert and his wife decided that it was time for a change and moved to Canada where they became citizens, his wife hearing about his stories continued to encourage him to publish more of his stories. Although Robert would not listen to his wife he did listen to his boss who was listening to Robert's wife. When Robert finally decided to listen his publishing was not off to a great start. He sent ten stories out to ten different publishers, nine of which were declined. The one which was not declined, "Mud Puddle", sold only 3,000 copies in the first year. "Mud Puddle" had its best year of selling ten years after. His love and joy of creating stories for his students was what pushed him to try publishing his stories.

Characters

For Robert, creating stories was easy. Many of his stories were inspired by real characters. He could hear of something funny or strange that happened to a person and expand it into a whole new story. One story that was created from a child's experience is "Brittany's Granddad". While traveling Robert was staying with a family where this story was inspired. Brittany was telling Robert about how her Granddad had both of his arms broken and how it happened. This is how many of his stories are developed. The first time that Robert tells a story to, he describes it as if the book is "owned" by the child. The child in real life will then become the child in the book.

"I get up in front of a bunch of kids and say 'Hey, I'm gonna tell you a new story. Who wants to be in a new story?' Well some kid always sticks up their hand and that gives me a name, but it doesn't give me a story. I just say whatever comes to my mind and usually it's not that good. Every once in a while, however, I say something that turns into a really good story."

"Every author has different ways of writing and what works for one author does not necessarily work for another."

Books

Robert has published 54 books. His first two books were published in 1979, "Mud Puddles" and "The Dark". His latest book published was "Put Me in a Box". Because of the way Robert starts a story each one has a new main character. In the beginning of each of his books, Munsch makes sure to dedicate the story to a child that the character is based off of.

Illustrator

One of the top illustrators that Munsch uses is Michael Martchenko. He was born August 1st, 1942 in Carcassonne, France, but moved to Canada. Martchenko started out working as a commercial artist. He was approached by Munsch to start working in children's literature.

"Love you Forever"

This book holds a special place in Robert's heart. He published this book in 1986. He wrote it as a way of dealing with his wife and his loss of two stillborn babies. When talking about this book, he describes how it started out as a song in his head. It was a song he could never sing because of the sadness it made him feel. When one day he was able to tell it, but not as a song as a story very similar to what it is now. He intended this to be a story for children, but to his surprise this story was being bought by people in retirement communities. Parents were buying it for grandparents and grandparents were buying it for parents. As written by Robert, "The way I sing it in the story is just MY version. You are supposed to make up your own".

Dealing with his addictions and what he is doing now

For a part of his life, Robert was dealing with different addictions. He was diagnosed with OCD and Manic Depressive Disorder. He eventually overcame this trouble and used it to better himself and to keep himself motivated. As Robert slowed down on his writing he began traveling around the country reading his stories to children. Robert will receive many letters from classes at different schools telling him how much they love his books or wanting him to come and visit. Whenever he is traveling around and notices that a school is close by, one that students have written from. Robert will make a put stop and go in to say hello to the teachers class. He does this unplanned with no one knowing he is coming. He shares that he walks into the school telling his name and that he was asked to stop by. Whenever he decides to randomly stop by he always makes sure that it is unexpected and free!

"I said, “Hi! My name is Bob Munsch and I am from Canada and your class wrote me a letter and asked me to come and visit and I was driving by on the Ventura Freeway and I came by for a visit and do you want me to tell some stories to your class or should I go back to the Ventura Freeway and stop bothering you?”

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