Amelia Bedelia (book)
Cover of the first edition
|Genre||Children's picture book, comedy|
|Publisher||Harper & Row|
|Media type||Print (hardcover)|
|LC Class||PZ7.P219 Am|
|Followed by||Thank You, Amelia Bedelia|
Amelia Bedelia is the first book in the Amelia Bedelia children's picture book series about a housekeeper who takes her instructions literally. It was written by Peggy Parish, illustrated by Fritz Seibel, and was published by Harper and Row in 1963. Holt Rinehart and Winston adapted this and several other books in the series for its I Can Read! line of beginning books. Over 35 million copies of books in the series have been sold. A 50th anniversary edition was published in 2013 which includes author's notes and archive photos. The first two chapter books in the series written by Peggy's nephew, Herman Parish, were published to coincide with the anniversary, focusing on the young Amelia Bedelia.
The idea for the book came from Peggy's third-grade students at the Dalton School in Manhattan who tended to confuse vocabulary, often with comic results. A housekeeper at her grandparents' home, where she often played as a child, was likely the inspiration for the protagonist.
Amelia Bedelia is hired as a maid for the wealthy Mr. and Mrs. Rogers. Despite meaning well, she can't seem to do anything right because she misinterprets the Rogers' instructions--many of which are idioms. Mrs. Rogers gives Amelia a list of chores to complete while the couple go out for the day. After choosing to make a lemon meringue pie to surprise the Rogers, Amelia proceeds to take all the instructions literally: she dresses the chicken by fitting it into tiny clothes, draws the drapes by sketching them onto a piece of paper, dusts the furniture by covering it with cosmetic dusting powder, and put the lights out by hanging lightbulbs on a clothesline.
When the couple returns home, Mrs. Rogers is bewildered that none of the chores have been done and Amelia has wreaked havoc throughout their house. Mrs. Rogers is on the verge of firing Amelia when Mr. Rogers puts a bite of Amelia's lemon meringue pie into his wife's mouth. Mrs. Rogers finds it so delicious that she forgives Amelia and decides to continue to employ her—but vows to write more explicit instructions in the future.
Amelia's list is copied below with her interpretations of each chore.
- Change the towels in the green bathroom - She used scissors to cut and change the towels' appearance.
- Dust the furniture - She threw dusting powder onto the furniture (in her house "they undust the furniture").
- Draw the drapes when the sun comes in - She drew a picture of the drapes.
- Put the lights out when you finish in the living room - She took all the light bulbs out of their sockets and hung them on the clothesline.
- Measure two cups of rice - She poured rice into two coffee cups, stacked them, and measured them with a tape measure. She then dumped the rice back into the box.
- Trim the fat before you put the steak in the icebox - She decorated the steak with lace and ribbons.
- Dress the chicken - She put little clothes onto the chicken.
(Mr. Rogers didn't mind if she continued to do the last two in the future.)
- "Amelia Bedelia". LC Online Catalog. Library of Congress (lccn.loc.gov). Retrieved 2016-02-18.
- Lodge, Sally (29 November 2012). "Amelia Bedelia Turns 50". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
- Kim, Susanna (29 January 2013). "Amelia Bedelia Turns 50 With a New Look". ABC News. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
- MacPherson, Karen (26 March 2013). "Children's Corner: Celebrating 50 Years of Amelia Bedelia". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
- Rullo, Gina. "Happy Birthday, Amelia Bedelia! An interview with Herman Parish". firstbook.org. Retrieved 11 June 2013.