SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

January 25, 2013

Amelia Bedelia turns 50

By Will Broaddus
Staff writer

---- — Children may grow up, but some characters in children’s books are ageless.

That is the case with Amelia Bedelia, whose 50th birthday will be celebrated at the Hamilton-Wenham Public Library tomorrow from 11 a.m. to noon.

“They’ll make birthday cards, play games and get treats,” said Lorraine Der, a children’s librarian at Hamilton-Wenham for 10 years. “She’s known for her pies, so they’ll play pin the pie on Amelia Bedelia’s hands.”

The party is for children age 3 and up and will also include a reading from one of the many Amelia Bedelia books in the library’s collection, Der said.

The first title featuring Bedelia was published in 1963, and close to 40 have been published. Peggy Parish wrote 12. Following her death in 1988, her nephew Herman Parish wrote another 27.

The illustrators have also changed over time, but Amelia Bedelia still wears a bonnet and apron and works as a maid for the Rogers family.

“She is a concrete thinker, which young children are, too,” Der said. “She does everything literally. When they say to draw the curtains, she sits down and draws the curtains.”

Or if she is asked to pitch a tent, she throws one as far as she can. But Amelia Bedelia’s misadventures always end happily, when she bakes and serves a cake or pie.

The books have stayed current for contemporary audiences, Der said, but it is their sense of humor that has always made them popular, both at the library and in her home.

“I did read them to my kids, because I thought they were funny,” Der said.