I was trying to remember if celebrity-authored picture books were A Thing yet when I was growing up. I don't think so; I can't recall any celebrity children's books back then.
I would've found it odd to
link authorship with a recognizable celebrity, since I'm not sure I even
thought of authors as contemporary people. Fairy tales and myths and
Aesop's fables seemed to be stories repeated for generations, with no
single recognizable author. They just sort of materialized. And I viewed
most books for children similarly: Make Way for Ducklings and Charlotte's Web and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
also seemed to have always existed. I was aware that some books had
authors' names on them, but those authors didn't seem like real people.
"Dr. Seuss" sounded like a made-up character (and indeed, it was a
pseudonym); I had never heard of such a name as "Roald" (Dahl) before
(and neither had my classmates, which was why they persisted in calling
him "Ronald"). E.B. White hid behind those mysterious initials. Louisa
May Alcott and Mark Twain (another pseudonym!) and L. M. Montgomery were
more accessible--their works carried more than a whiff of
autobiography--but still, they had lived a long time ago, way back in
olden times. Once Upon a Time.
As I got older, I became aware
that authors were real people, many of whom were even still alive. And
yet, they didn't seem like people you could run into at the grocery
store or the bus stop. If pressed to imagine where they lived, I might
have guessed they all lived up on a special mountain somewhere, or in
cabins out in the woods. Well, maybe not Judy Blume--the suburban
setting of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret was so familiar
she might have been living in my own neighborhood. Except I was pretty
sure she wasn't, because again, authors didn't live among boring people
To me, authors were celebrities in their own right. They
didn't usually appear on TV, but their names were IN PRINT. On shelves
in public places such as LIBRARIES and BOOKSTORES. What more proof of
fame could one need?
Of course, now that I am an author, all of this is hilarious to me. I am not remote or legendary, and I don't even get to spend most of my day writing.
authors on social media and doing school visits nowadays, I doubt that
children today think of authors as distant and mysterious, the way I
once did. That's okay. But my old imaginings are good for a chuckle!