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  • Hi, I’m John Green. Welcome to my salon. This is Mental Floss on YouTube and did you

  • know that among all of the drawings in Norton Juster’s original The Phantom Tollbooth,

  • there is not a single drawing of Milo in a tollbooth.

  • Anyway, that’s the first of many facts about your favorite children’s books I’m going

  • to share with you about today.

  • When E.B. White was once asked why he wrote Charlotte’s Web, he responded with a two-and-a-half

  • page letter about spiders in his barn and pigs. Wait, did someone say pigs?

  • Time to put a quarter in the staff porkchop party fund! Man, that's some pig.

  • Anyway, at the end of the letter, he wrote, “I haven’t told why I wrote the book,

  • but I haven’t told why I sneeze, either. A book is a sneeze.”

  • Katherine Paterson, on the other hand, can tell you exactly where she found the inspiration

  • for Bridge to Terabithia: one of her son’s best friends, Lisa, was struck by lightning

  • and killed when they she was just eight years old.

  • As for the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, it was based in part on a 1965

  • story from the New York Times in which the Metropolitan Museum purchased a genuine Italian

  • Renaissance statue for just $225. So it was that combined with, you know, our universal

  • human desire to hide in bathrooms until museums close.

  • Maurice Sendak based the Where the Wild Things Are monsters on his Polish relatives who came

  • to live with his parents in New York after surviving the Holocaust. Sendak described

  • them as cheek-pinchers with crazy faces and wild eyes.

  • Before he became a famous author, by the way, Sendak illustrated Mrs. Piggle Wiggle's Farm,

  • which I bring up entirely because somebody just said "pig." Two quarters in one video,

  • what is it, my birthday?

  • Mrs. Piggle Wiggle is one of the many now-famous children’s stories that started out as an

  • attempt to lull the author’s small children to sleep. Others include Babar, Winnie-the-Pooh,

  • and The Hobbit.

  • Sick,” “neurotic,” andmasochisticare just a few of the words that critics have

  • used to refer to Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree.

  • Dr. SeussGreen Eggs and Ham is a little less controversial. It was written after Seuss

  • editor bet him that he couldn’t write a book using 50 words or less.

  • The 50 words are: a, am, and, anywhere, are, be, boat, box, car, could, dark, do, eat,

  • eggs, fox, goat, good, green, ham, here, house, I, if, in, let, like, may, me, mouse, not,

  • on, or, rain, Sam, say, see, so, thank, that, the, them, there, they, train, tree, try,

  • will, with, would, and you. I did it.

  • Speaking of Seuss, he wrote The Cat in the Hat because he thought that kids needed a

  • more interesting way to learn basic words than the boring Dick and Jane series.

  • Also, to make sure that his publisher was paying attention, Dr. Seuss inserted this

  • line into a first draft of Hop on Pop: "When I read I am smart / I always cut whole words

  • apart. / Con Stan Tin O Ple, Tim Buk Too / Con Tra Cep Tive, Kan Ga Roo." His publisher of

  • course WAS paying attention, and the line was later changed to: "My father / can read

  • / big words, too. / Like... / Constantinople / and / Timbuktu."

  • Margaret Wise Brown had no children. She left all future proceeds of Goodnight Moon to a

  • neighbor, who was nine-years-old at the time. He has since made - and mostly spent - more

  • than $5 million off of it.

  • Mo Willems, best known for Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and Knuffle Bunny, started

  • his career as a writer and animator for Sesame Street, where he won six Emmys.

  • Not easy working for Sesame Street, for starters, you gotta know how to count.

  • Since it was first published in 1969, Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar has

  • sold a copy every minute.

  • Beatrix Potter, who wrote The Tale of Peter Rabbit, was notorious for disliking children,

  • this is actually pretty common among children's book writers. Not me. Others. According to

  • fellow kid’s author Roald Dahl, he convinced his mother take him to see Beatrix Potter

  • at her farm when he was just six. And Beatrix happened to be working outside when they arrived

  • and she asked Roald what he wanted. He told her that he wanted to meet Beatrix Potter,

  • to which she responded, "Well you've met her. Now buzz off.” Ugh, such a Mr. McGregor

  • move.

  • The grown-up Dahl used to tell his daughters stories about one of his most famous characters,

  • The BFG, long before the book existed. And after he told his kids the BFG stories at

  • bedtime, he would climb a ladder outside of their bedroom window and use a bamboo cane

  • to blow dreams into their room, just like his big, friendly giant.

  • One more Roald Dahl tidbit: an early draft of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory featured

  • a sixth child in addition to Augustus, Mike, Violet, Veruca, and Charlie. Her name was

  • Miranda Piker, and she met her untimely demise when she was ground into powder by one of

  • Willy Wonka’s candy machines after refusing to listen to him.

  • So the next time you read The Polar Express - or anything else illustrated by Chris Van

  • Allsburg - keep an eye out for a white bull terrier. He sticks one into most of his works

  • in homage to his brother-in-law’s dog, Winston, who served as a model for his first book.

  • In The Polar Express, you can find a Winston puppet on the bedpost.

  • Margaret and H.A. Rey fled from France on bicycles during WWII, they escaped the Nazis

  • by mere hours. And included among the few possessions they took with them was a manuscript

  • for a book that would eventually become the Curious George. Which would then go on to

  • become an epically bad movie.

  • Pippi Longstocking’s full name is Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim's

  • Daughter Longstocking.

  • Ramona Quimby came about when Beverly Cleary noticed that every kid in her book Henry Huggins

  • was an only child. So to remedy this, she tossed in a little sister for Beezus. Speaking

  • of which, people often ask me why most of the kids in my book are only children. It's

  • a joke that I have with my brother.

  • Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., has said that he was inspired to become a falconer by Jean Craighead

  • George's My Side of the Mountain.

  • In all of R.L. Stine's Goosbumps series, nobody dies. How was it still so scary??

  • The author of Frog and Toad, Arnold Lobel was the father-in-law to Mark Linn-Baker,

  • AKA Cousin Larry on Perfect Strangers, which may help explain why Linn-Baker later played

  • Toad on Broadway. So look for Hank Green playing Augustus Waters in The Fault in our Stars

  • on Broadway later this year. That is a joke, just in case, like, EW wants to take that

  • out of context or something.

  • Audrey Penn was inspired to write The Kissing Hand when she saw a mother raccoon rubbing

  • her nose in her baby raccoon’s paw. Then the baby would rub its paw against its own

  • cheek, and the two would repeat the process over and over. A park ranger explained that

  • the mother was marking her baby with her scent so they could find each other if they got

  • separated. Penn wrote the story and I've been "aww-ing" ever since.

  • Other names considered for Nancy Drew: Diana Dare, Stella Strong, Helen Hale and Nan Nelson.

  • The names for the houses at Hogwarts came to J.K. Rowling while she was on a plane,

  • so she jotted them down on an airsickness bag, which she still has, by the way. Presumably,

  • it is otherwise unused.

  • The look for Anne of Green Gables was based on Evelyn Nesbit, one of the It Girls of the

  • early 1900s. It’s kind of like if Kim Kardashian had inspired the look of Katniss Everdeen.

  • Which maybe she did. Probably not.

  • Stan and Jan Berenstain didn't just write about their namesake bears. Among their other

  • credits: How to Teach Your Children About Sex.

  • The first incarnation of Corduroy the bear appeared in a story by author Don Freeman

  • calledCorduroy, the Inferior Decorator,” about a little boy who insisted on painting

  • all over the walls of his parentshouse. That book never saw the light of day, but

  • Freeman liked the name so he kept it when he created the popular teddy bear character.

  • Corduroy is a good name for a bear, but not as good as Mark's Cellophane.

  • In 1956, author Michael Bond saw a toy bear sitting alone on a shelf on Christmas Eve.

  • And he felt bad for the bear so he bought it. He named it Paddington because he and

  • his wife lived near Paddington Station in London at the time, and it was only later

  • that he started writing stories about the marmalade sandwich-loving bear.

  • Talking animals like Paddington once had no place in China. In fact, for a time, even

  • classics like Alice in Wonderland were banned in parts of the country, because, according

  • to a 1931 statement by General Ho Chien, "Bears, lions and other beasts cannot use a human

  • language. To attribute to them such a power is an insult to the human race." That's a

  • little overly sensitive. It's almost like he knew animals could talk.

  • Like sometimes I hear this donkey whisper, "Why are you making me wear a party hat and

  • a tutu?"

  • Despite the fact that the cover of Strega Nona declares that it’s “an old tale retold

  • and illustrated by Tomie De Paola,” the author actually invented the character. It

  • was his publisher’s idea to brand it as an old folktale.

  • Norman Bridwell almost called his famous big red dogTinyuntil his wife suggested

  • Cliffordthe name of her childhood imaginary friend.

  • Louis Sachar’s Holes was originally supposed to be called Wrong Place, Wrong Time, Wrong

  • Kid. Strangely enough, that’s kind of how I feel about Shia LaBeouf, who played Stanley

  • CavemanYelnats in the film adaptation.

  • The author and illustrator of Madeline, Ludwig Bemelmans painted a mural of Central Park

  • at a bar in the the Carlyle Hotel. And he decided to include a Madeline cameo in the

  • mural. That's right - Madeline is chilling at a bar in NYC - “something is not right

  • INDEED.

  • Between 1986 and 2000, Scholastic published 213 novels in the Baby-sitters Club series.

  • Each of them classics! In total there are more than 176 million copies of Baby-sitters

  • Club books in print.

  • A Wrinkle in Time was rejected by at least 26 publishers. Among their arguments were

  • that it was "too different", "because it deals overtly with the problem of evil,” andwas

  • it a children's or an adults' book, anyhow?"

  • There are persistent rumors that the title character from Kay Thompson’s Eloise was

  • inspired by her goddaughter, who grew up in hotels. But the goddaughter, who just happens

  • to be LIZA MINNELLI, says that that's not true.

  • The Olivia book series came about when author Ian Falconer decided to make a present for

  • his niece, Olivia.

  • After two decades of writing children’s books, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible,

  • No Good Very Bad Day's author Judith Viorst turned to Freudian psychology.

  • When The Boxcar Children was first published, there were some upset adults who felt that

  • children shouldn’t be enjoying themselves so much without any adult supervision. To

  • which I say, is being a kid hobo living in a BOXCAR really that fun?

  • A quarter of a million copies of Pat the Bunny are produced every year, enough to cover six

  • football fields in those tiny little squares of peekaboo cloth.

  • And lastly, I return to my salon to tell you that S.E. Hinton was just 17 when her novel

  • The Outsiders was published in 1967. And yes - she is a she. “S.E.” stands for Susan

  • Eloise. And even though The Outsiders came out almost 50 years ago, S.E. Hinton is still

  • writing books. And they're still very good.

  • Thanks for watching Mental Floss here on YouTube, which is made with the help of all these nice

  • people. Every week we endeavor to answer one of your mind-blowing questions. This week’s

  • question comes from Lucy who asks, “How many organs do people have?”

  • Well Lucy, it depends on your definition of organ. I mean, most people don't have any

  • organs at all, other people have bought, you know, one or two from a church or something.

  • Right, but we have to define what an organ is. The most widely accepted definition is

  • that an organ is a collection of tissues that work together to do something. But by this