Robert Munsch is one of North America’s best-selling children’s authors. His books are staples of any child’s library. All together they have sold over 30 million copies, and have been translated into over a dozen languages.
“I got into it backwards!” is Munsch’s reply to questions about how he became a children’s author. That’s because he makes up most of his stories on the spot, and tells them over and over before he writes them down. Munsch is bursting with ideas-though he says it sometimes takes him years to get a good story.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Munsch studied for seven years to be a Jesuit priest before deciding to work with children instead. For the next five years he taught in a variety of nursery schools and daycare centers while he earned an M.A. in early childhood education. In 1975, Munsch and his wife, Ann, moved to Guelph, Ontario, where he became an associate professor of family studies and teacher at the University of Guelph’s preschool. During this time his reputation began to grow.
Munsch has gained wide international recognition for his books and records. The Paper Bag Princess became the kids’ book of the ’80s, and Murmel, Murmel, Murmel won a Juno Award in 1985. In 1986, Thomas’ Snowsuit won the Ruth Schwartz Award, and Munsch himself won the Canadian Booksellers Association’s “Author of the Year” in 1991.
What do people like about Munsch’s stories? They’re contemporary and zany, reflecting “a jaunty belief in the power of children,” says Horn Book. To celebrate the publication of The Paper Bag Princess twenty-five years ago, Annick Press released The Paper Bag Princess 25th Anniversary Edition (2005) which has the complete storybook, how the book came to be, and never-before published original sketches.
Every year Munsch receives thousands of letters from young fans. He likes to meet the children who send him mail, which sometimes leads to another story. Of his hectic touring schedule, he says simply, “I love it! One of the nicest things about my job is traveling across North America and meeting all kinds of people.”
The Munschs have three children: Julie, Andrew and Tyya.
Celebrate Robert Munsch’s 70th birthday. Click here.