The Amelia Bedelia Books
written (most of them) by Peggy Parish
illustrated (most of them) by Lynn Sweat

Some Amelia Bedelia books:

Peggy Parish's Amelia Bedelia books
illustrated by Lynn Sweat

Children's book review by Steve Barancik

Ages 5-8

Amelia Bedelia: GREAT for early readers, NOT for pre-readers

I started off hating these books.

Perhaps you, like me, think puns are the lowest form of humor. That's why most adults tend to groan, rather than laugh, in response.

Kids, however, love puns.

My first exposure to Miss Bedelia was when one of her books somehow found its way into our picture book pile. Don't let this happen to you! If your pre-reader takes a liking to Amelia Bedelia, you might end up disposing of the book in order to maintain your sanity!

That's what I did. What I should have done was put it aside for a couple years. Amelia belongs in your little reader's book pile, where you don't have to be exposed to her!

Then you can be happy that your child so enjoys the Amelia Bedelia books...without your having to endure them.

Amelia is an old-style housekeeper, a particularly literal one. It is as if she herself were a year younger than the age of your young reader, because idioms and turns of phrase that would be familiar to any English speaker are completely alien to Amelia.

Tell her to stuff the Christmas stockings, and you'll have turkey stuffing in the stockings. Ask her to separate the eggs, and she'll take them to opposite ends of the house.

In short, Amelia Bedelia is a moron, someone your young reader can laugh at and feel superior to as he or she sounds out words.

Which is actually kind of brilliant, if you think about it. It can be frustrating to be a new reader. The Amelia Bedelia books make your young reader feel superior to a grown-up, and they convey a sense of accomplishment not only for puzzling out the sounds but for getting the (rather lame) jokes!

Now, I was very surprised to learn that Amelia first appeared in the 1960s. The early books were illustrated by Fritz Siebel, a popular illustrator of the era, and Amelia is depicted as a middle aged housekeeper. To my mind, she comes off as rather pathetic, being so ignorant of language at that age.

Later, artist Lynn Sweat took over the illustrating. Sweat depicts Amelia as bright-eyed and almost impossibly young for a housekeeper. Now she seems naive, rather than damaged. I doubt it's a coincidence that the series suddenly became so popular after Ms. Sweat took over.

The four most popular Amelia Bedelia books are:

The two best things about them are:

  • Children love them
  • Children grow out of them

The author, Peggy Parish, died somewhat young, and a nephew, Herman Parish, picked up the series. A third illustrator, Wallace Tripp, has also been involved.

Now parents, repeat after me: "I'm sorry, honey. Those books are for readers. They can't be read aloud."

Okay, you're ready. The Amelia Bedelia books.

Peggy Parish's Amelia Bedelia

Read more of Steve's children's book reviews.

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