Article from

The Rapides Parish Library

Biography about Peggy Parish, author of
"Amelia Bedelia

         Peggy Parish began her career as an elementary teacher. After teaching for almost fifteen years, writing books for children seemed to be a next step. "Children have always been my life, so writing stories for children came naturally." Ms. Parish wrote over forty books for children, twelve of them in the Amelia Bedelia series.

        Amelia's literal mindedness comes from reading cookbooks, where you must do exactly what it says. She even tried some of the things out herself before she included them in a book. One example would be the "sponge cake." The author said that she spent the afternoon in her kitchen cutting up sponges, stirring them into cake batter and then baking them to see how it would turn out. She didn't know whether it would turn soggy, burn up or stay "spongy." It stayed spongy-- in real life and in the book.

        When Amelia Bedelia gets a job as a maid, she sprinkles dust on everything when she is asked to dust. ("At my house we un-dust the furniture", she says. "But each to his own way.") She stuffs the Christmas stockings with turkey stuffing. She uses real sponges when she is asked to bake a sponge cake. She "changes" the towels with scissors. She goes camping and literally "pitches" the tent. While playing baseball, she "runs home" after hitting the ball. In one book, she teaches school and yells "hey, roll!" when the lesson plan says to call roll.

         Peggy Parish died at the age of sixty-one in 1988.  But the publishing world just keeps printing new copies of these well-loved books. In 1995 Herman Parish, Peggy Parish's nephew, came out with GOOD DRIVING, AMELIA BEDELIA. In this zany adventure, Amelia is practicing her driving by looking for "forks" in the road and mixing up directions.

        Herman Parish says that it is not an exaggeration to say that the literal-minded housekeeper has been part of his immediate family for most of his life. He was in the fourth grade when his aunt wrote the first Amelia Bedelia book. Everyone feels that Peggy Parish would be proud of her nephew for carrying on the tradition that she began.

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