76 things you might not know about Robert Munsch
June 11, 2021 is Robert Munsch's 76th birthday. To celebrate, CBC Books presents 76 facts you might not know about the iconic storyteller.
1. His full name is Robert Norman Peter Maria Munsch.
2. But you can call him "Bob."
3. He spent seven years studying to be a Jesuit priest before leaving the seminary at age 25.
4. Munsch and his wife came to Canada from the United States to find work after getting laid off.
8. Munsch loves cosmology. He's been known to drag his telescope out onto the street in front of his house to stargaze.²
11. He started writing stories at age 35.
12. Munsch's books have been translated into over 30 languages, including several Indigenous languages.¹
13. As a child, he had an imaginary friend named Bobby Smith, who was very naughty.
14. The titles always come last when he writes books.
16. Munsch believes moving to Canada is why he became a storyteller: "I don't think I would have told stories at all if I had stayed in the U.S."
17. When he travels, he prefers staying with local families to staying in hotels.
18. Hiking helps him relax.
21. He remembers dealing with depression as far back as Grade 5.
22. The Paper Bag Princess came from complaints from the mothers at the daycare where Munsch worked. He had been telling the kids a typical prince-and-princess story and he remembers the mothers saying, "Have you noticed there are not many princes in this stupid mining town? You should change that story."
23. He has hundreds of unpublished stories.
24. Spelling is not his forte.
25. He joined Canada's Walk of Fame in 2009.
26. When Munsch told the media about his problems with drug and alcohol addiction in 2010, his children did not yet know. He had to tell them before the interview went to press. He also did not mean to reveal it, "it just slipped out."
28. Two Ontario public schools are named after Munsch: one in Whitby and one in Mount Albert.
31. His 2008 stroke has made him forgetful, which is why he doesn't tour anymore.
32. He's a Trekkie.
33. He loves to fish, but he describes himself as a "lousy fisherman."
34. Angela's Airplane was originally supposed to be Candy's Airplane, based on the name of the kid who inspired it, but the name was changed. Munsch felt so bad about this that he's made sure all his books use the kids' real names ever since.
36. He's a fan of poetry.³
39. Munsch was terrible in math as a kid. He counted on his fingers until he was in Grade 8.³
42. He has a black poodle named Guinness. His previous dog was a black poodle named Cinder.
46. Munsch sees himself primarily as a storyteller, not a writer.
47. His first date with his wife-to-be, Ann, was a walk around Walden Pond in Boston.
48. Munsch has worked with many different illustrators, although Michael Martchenko is by far his most popular collaborator.²
49. Science was Munsch's favourite subject in school.
50. When his children were younger, they visited the library every Wednesday, and took their books home in a laundry basket.
52. He has a dragon statue in his home to symbolize his battles with addiction.
53. Munsch likes to take long walks with his dog in the afternoon.
54. The publication of his book Too Much Stuff!, about a child sneaking dolls onto a plane, was delayed due to heightened airport security after the attempted Christmas 2009 bombing of a plane in the U.S.
56. He receives about 10,000 letters a year from fans.
57. Munsch's father was also a great storyteller.²
58. He's a former CBC Literary Prize finalist. Back when the Prizes had a "Children's Story" category, Munsch won third place in 1983 for a work called Snowsuit.
59. He believes parents should read to their kids for at least 20 minutes a day.
61. His regular publisher didn't want to publish Love You Forever.²
62. Munsch's favourite book as a child was Angus Lost by Marjorie Flack, about an Angus dog who got lost. It was his favourite book because his neighbour had an Angus dog and he thought the book was about that dog.
63. He is a great admirer of Charles Darwin.
64. Only one of his 89 books is out of print (Giant, or Waiting for the Thursday Boat).¹
66. His favourite TV show is Elementary.¹
67. His book Get Out of Bed! inspired a fall fair parade float in Tavistock, Ont. On the float, the girl whom the book was based on lay in bed while Robert Munsch read to her. The float won first prize.¹
68. His favourite colour is black.
69. Theatre productions of his books have included Little Munsch on the Prairie, Magical Mystery Munsch, Munsch Ado About Nothing and Munschia Mia.¹
70. He co-wrote the book A Promise Is A Promise with Inuk children's writer Michael Kusugak about the monster Qallupilluit after a visit with Kusugak in Rankin Inlet.
71. Some of Munsch's favourite foods include hot chicken wings, Indonesian lemon grass and coconut soup, raw caribou and homemade vegetable soup.
74. Munsch has 71 million copies of his books in print in North America. That's almost two Robert Munsch books for every Canadian citizen.¹
75. Munsch's Mortimer was named the TD Grade One Book Giveaway title for 2020. This means more than 550,000 Canadian Grade 1 students will receive a copy of the 1983 classic.
76. Munsch's latest book is Thing Big!, which was illustrated by Dave Wharmond. It was inspired by a boy named Jamaal. Munsch met Jamaal met at an army base school. Jamaal was the oldest of his siblings and wanted a big room all to himself.
¹ Facts courtesy of Munsch's publisher.
² Guelph Public Library