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Holly Hobbie (born Denise Holly Ulinskas, 1944) is an American writer and illustrator, and the name of a fictional character based on this person.
Hobbie is the author of the popular Toot and Puddle children's books, and the creator of the character bearing her name. She lives in Conway, Massachusetts.
She married Douglas Hobbie in 1964.
Her namesake character
In the late 1960s, Hobbie sold distinctive artwork of a cat-loving, rag dress-wearing little girl in a giant bonnet to American Greetings. This series of illustrations became popular, and her originally nameless character became known as "Holly Hobbie".
As a contract artist, Hobbie worked with the Humorous Planning department at American Greetings under art director Rex Connors, who was responsible for launching "blue girl" as the most identifiable of the Hobbie characters. Also working in Humorous Planning at that time (1973, 1974) was Bob Childers, a veteran humorous concept artist and designer. Childers insisted that there should be a doll. Since no one seemed to listen, Childers went home and, on his own time, hand-stitched the first prototype and presented it to Connors. Rex Connors then took the doll to Tom Wilson, Creative Vice President, after which American Greetings approached Knickerbocker Toys concerning the Holly Hobbie license.
In 1974, Knickerbocker Toys licensed the Holly Hobbie character for a line of rag dolls, which were a popular toy for young American girls for several years. Holly Hobbie products are now once again being marketed by American Greetings in association with Carlton Cards.
In 1980, Holly was featured in a novel by Richard Dubelman entitled The Adventures of Holly Hobbie. In this book, Holly Hobbie is a ghost who lives in a painting that was painted in 1803. She comes out of the painting to help a descendant, Liz Dutton, find her missing father, an archaeologist who has vanished in Guatemala.
In 2006, a redesigned Holly Hobbie was launched as part of a spin-off product line called "Holly Hobbie and Friends" created by author and illustrator Linda Harfward. She was featured in a movie titled Holly Hobbie and Friends: Surprise Party. The movie aired on Nick Jr. and is available on DVD. The traditional line still exists, with the back story that the "original" Holly is the great-grandmother of the "new" Holly. It features songs with music and lyrics written by lead guitarist Sheriff Mandy Collins and keyboardist Charlotte Spencer of the English rock group, the Hyper Girls.
In 2006, Mattel released a brand new Holly Hobbie doll line, which includes Holly (blue eyes and blonde hair), Amy (green eyes and red hair), and Carrie (brown eyes and black hair). The dolls feature an all new face sculpt, a new body style, and flat feet. There is also a series of smaller Holly, Amy, and Carrie figures; each of these figures arrives with a farm animal (Holly has a dog named Doodles, Amy has a pig named Cheddar, and Carrie has a cat named Bonnett). Separate doll outfits are being sold; each outfit can be customized by the child or collector. Holly Hobbie (the cartoon) also has three popular songs, two sung in her own voice, "Just Like You" and "The Things That Make You Special." LeAnn Rimes sang "Twinkle in Her Eye," the theme song.
Toot & Puddle series
Toot & Puddle (a creation of the real Holly Hobbie) are best friends, even though Toot likes to travel and Puddle likes to stay at home.
There are several books of their adventures, including:
- Toot & Puddle (1986)
- A Present for Toot (1987)
- You Are My Sunshine (1988)
- Puddle's ABC (1989)
- I'll Be Home For Christmas (1990)
- Top of the World (1991)
- Charming Opal (1992)
- The New Friend (1993)
- Wish You Were Here (1994)
- The One and Only (1995)
- Let It Snow (1996)
Toot & Puddle television show
On December 5, 2006 Toot & Puddle I'll Be Home for Christmas was released on DVD. The film was released and broadcast on Nick Jr.
- National Geographic's Toot & Puddle site
- Holly Hobbie and Friends on AG Kid Zone
- American Greetings' Holly Hobbie site