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 Picture Books Author of the Month
Peggy Parish
Peggy Parish
14 July 1927 -- 19 November 1988

Margaret Cecile Parish , otherwise known as Peggy, was born in Manning, South Carolina on July 14, 1927 to Herman and Cecil (Rogers) Parish. Peggy had one brother Stanley.

Parish was often sick as a child. Many family friends and relatives would read to her in hopes that it would make her feel better. She loved hearing the stories so much that she would often ask for more. It was this love of reading that helped her with her schoolwork.

Since she had always wanted to be a teacher, it was no surprise that Parish went on to college and studied education after graduating from high school. Parish attended South Carolina University and received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English in 1948.

After graduating from college, Parish moved to Texhoma, Texas, near the Oklahoma border. She taught English and creative dancing in the Oklahoma panhandle. After teaching in Oklahoma until 1952, she moved to Kentucky, where she taught third graders whose parents worked in the local coal mines.

A short time later, she moved to New York. Her first job in the big city was with the Girl Scouts of America. It was not long before she found a job as a third grade teacher at the Dalton School in Manhattan, where she continued teaching until 1967.

Parish began writing while she taught at the school. She had never taken formal classes in writing, but she was fortunate that the skill came naturally. At first, her manuscripts were rejected by book publishers. It was at this time that some of Parish's friends introduced her to some book editors, who helped her with her first books.

Her first big break came in 1962. That year, her first book, My Golden Book of Manners, was published. The well-known illustrator, Richard Scarry, drew the pictures for that book. While this was important to her writing career, it was in 1963 that her most famous character would make her debut. That, of course, was Amelia Bedelia.

Amelia Bedelia is a maid who works for Mr. And Mrs. Rogers. Her problem is that she takes everything that they tell her to do literally. As can be imagined, this leads to some very interesting results to Amelia Bedeila's projects.

The idea for Amelia Bedelia came from spending time with some of her students at the Dalton School. Parish loved spending time with her students. They would often respond in literal ways to things she would say. For example, she would say, "Let's call roll," and they would respond with, "Hey, Roll!" It was this type of thinking that led Parish to wonder about what would happen if a person always thought literally. That was how Amelia Bedelia was born.

After writing Amelia Bedelia, Parish was not really sure she wanted to send it to any publishers for fear that it could be rejected. Fortunately, her fears were unfounded. The book was a big hit!

Amelia Bedelia often led to unusual research on the part of her creator. For example, in Good Work, Amelia Bedelia, Amelia makes a sponge cake using real sponge. The problem was that Parish was not sure what would happen if someone baked a real sponge cake, so she did for herself to find out.

Parish went on to write twelve Amelia Bedelia books and more than thirty books in total.

In 1972, Parish returned to South Carollina. She continued to write books as well as speak to library associations and children's education groups. She even ran a book review service on the "Carolina Today" show out of Columbia, South Carolina.

In 1988, shortly after a large twenty-fifth birthday celebration for Amelia Bedelia, Parish was rushed to a hospital in her hometown of Manning, South Carolina. She died there of a ruptured abdominal aneurysm. An aneurysm is a weak spot in the body that can burst unexpectedly. Parish died on November 19, 1988.

Parish's nephew Herman took up the on-going story of Amelia Bedelia with a book entitled Good Driving, Amelia Bedelia in 1997.

Information for this biography was taken from:
1) Tracy Chevalier (ed.). Twentieth Century Children Writers; St. James Press: New York, 1989.
2) Anne Commire (ed.).  Something About the Author, #17; Gale Research Company: Detroit, Mich., 1979.
3) "Parish, Peggy" Educational Paperback Association; http://www.edupaperback.org/authorbios/parishp.html.
4) Jill C. Wheeler. Peggy Parish; Abdo and Daughters: Edina, Minn., 1997.

Amelia Bedelia Titles
E-Parish Amelia Bedelia (1992) -- A literal-minded housekeeper causes a ruckus in the household when she attempts to makes sense of some instructions.

E-Parish Amelia Bedelia and the Baby (1981) -- Amelia Bedelia follows to the letter the list of instructions for looking after the Lane's baby.

E-PAR/E-P-PAR/ABC-Parish Amelia Bedelia Helps Out (1979) -- Amelia Bedelia shows her niece Effie Lou how to follow instructions to the letter as they dust the potato bugs and sew seeds.

E-Parish/E-P-PAR Amelia Bedelia's Family Album (1988) -- Amelia Bedelia entertains Mr. and Mrs. Rogers by showing them her family album and describing what her relatives do.

E-Parish/E-P-PAR Good Work, Amelia Bedelia (1976) -- Literal-minded Amelia Bedelia does household chores and gets dinner ready.

E-P-PAR/ABC-Parish Merry Christmas, Amelia Bedelia (1986) -- As Amelia Bedelia helps Mrs. Rogers prepare for Christmas, she bakes a date cake with a calendar in it and stuffs the children's stockings with turkey stuffing.

E-P-PAR Teach Us, Amelia Bedelia (1977) -- Amelia Bedelia takes following directions literally into the classroom when she becomes teacher for a day.

ABC-Parish Amelia Bedelia and the Surprise Shower (1966) -- Amelia Bedelia and her cousin, helping to prepare a surprise shower, make some arrangements that are not quite what the guests expected.

ABC- Parish Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping (1985) -- As always, Amelia Bedelia follows exactly the instructions given to her on a camping trip, including pitching a tent and rowing boats.

ABC-Parish/E-KIT-Parish Come Back, Amelia Bedelia (19) -- Mrs. Rogers fires Amelia Bedelia , and she sets out to find a new job.

ABC-Parish Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia (1972) -- Amelia Bedelia, who knows very little about baseball, stands in for a sick player during a game.

ABC-Parish Thank You, Amelia Bedelia (1964) -- Great-Aunt Myra is coming to visit, and Amelia Bedelia, the ever literal-minded housekeeper, is eager to please. 

Other Titles
BdBk-Parish I Can--Can You? (1980) -- Four books suggesting activities for children to imitate , such as wiggling fingers, splashing water, brushing teeth, and using the potty.

E-Parish The Chimp That Went to School (1982) -- Mistaking him for a child, a near-sighted truant officer takes a chimpanzee to school.

E-P-PAR/ABC-Parish Dinosaur Time (1974) -- An easy-to-read introduction to eleven different dinosaurs, including their size, their diet, the pronunciation of their names, and their distinctive characteristics.

E-PAR Granny and the Desperadoes (1996) -- Catching two thieves who stole her pies, Granny Guntry puts them to work on her farm until they regret ever crossing paths with the woman.

E-PAR Too Many Rabbits (1974) -- After finally finding a home for a mother rabbit and her many children, Miss Molly gets a new house guest -- a pregnant cat.

ABC-Parish Good Hunting, Blue Sky (1989) -- Blue Sky goes out to hunt for meat for his family and comes home with something unexpected.

ABC-PAR No More Monsters for Me (1981) -- Minneapolis Simkin is not allowed to have a pet, so she finds the most unusual replacement.

J-Parish Clues in the Woods (1968) -- Three young sleuths decide to investigate the disappearance of their table scraps from the garbage and become involved in some interesting adventures.

J-Parish Haunted House (1971) -- Three children are uneasy when they learn their parents have bought a reputedly haunted house.

J-PAR Hermit Dan (1977) -- Intrigued by stories of local pirates and buried treasure, three children decide to find out the truth about Hermit Dan and his ancestors.

J-P-PAR Key to the Treasure (1966) -- A number of sketchings hanging over their grandparent's mantel will help three children find some hidden treasure if they can only find the missing first clue.

J-PAR The Pirate Island Adventure (1975) -- Three children vacationing on Pirate Island discover a long-lost family treasure.

Non-Fiction Titles
745.59-PAR Let's Celebrate: Holiday Decorations You Can Make (1976) -- Instructions for making decorations for holidays throughout the years. Includes an Easter bush, a log cabin, and a valentine mobile.

"Parish, Peggy" Educational Paperback Association (http://www.paperback.org/authorbios/parishp.html) -- This site gives a biography writen by the author as well as a list of her works and citations for resources to learn more about Peggy Parish and her books. 

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