Jan Wahl

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Jan Wahl
Jan Wahl.jpg
Jan Boyer Wahl
Born Jan Boyer Wahl
(1933-04-01) April 1, 1933 (age 85)
Columbus, Ohio
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Michigan
Occupation Children's writer

Jan Boyer Wahl (born April 1, 1933) is a prolific author of over 100 works, known primarily for his award-winning children's books, including Pleasant Fieldmouse and Humphrey's Bear. Wahl sometimes refers to himself as "Dr. Mouse," a nickname given him by a young fan.

Jan (pronounced "Yahn") Wahl was born in Columbus, Ohio. His father was physician Russell Rothenberger, and his mother was Nina Marie Boyer Wahl. He has five brothers. Wahl has revealed that his late brother, Phil Wahl, then manager of the Augusta Golf Club, was one of the real-life inspirations for the character played by Bill Murray in the film Lost In Translation (2003), directed by Sofia Coppola. Another brother, Robert C. Wahl, has also authored novels and children's books.

Jan Wahl received a B.A. from Cornell University in 1953, then went on to graduate studies at the University of Copenhagen (Fulbright scholar, 1953-1954) and the University of Michigan (M.A., 1958). On March 15, 1996, Bowling Green State University awarded Wahl the honorary degree Doctor of Letters in recognition of his continuing work in children's literature and in the history of film.[1]

Wahl is also well known as a film historian and collector of films and film history related artifacts. Since 1996 he has presented introductory lectures for the Sunday Classic Film Series at the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Film Theater and Museum at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, with over one hundred presentations to his credit. Most of the programs have consisted of films from his private collection.

Wahl's career has been both varied and adventurous. Included among his exploits is spending several months working with noted filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer during the filming of Ordet (The Word). Later he was the personal secretary to Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen);[1] and was also involved with Keith Lampe in the early days of the Yippies. He befriended actress Louise Brooks and some of their correspondence was collected in the volume Dear Stinkpot: Letters from Louise Brooks. In addition, he was an on-set script doctor (uncredited) for The Wrath of God (1972) starring Robert Mitchum and Rita Hayworth during its filming in Mexico; and was an early consultant on what became Fraggle Rock.[citation needed]

Selected works[edit]

Note: Many of Wahl's books have been reprinted, some multiple times.

  • Pleasant Fieldmouse (1964) (Illustrated by Maurice Sendak) (Pleasant Fieldmouse series)
  • Hello Elephant (1964)
  • Cabbage Moon (1965) (Republished in 1999 with new artwork. Slightly rewritten for a 2014 edition with the original artwork)
  • Pocahontas In London (1967) (Illustrated by John Alcorn (artist))
  • Cobweb Castle (1968) (Illustrated by Edward Gorey)
  • The Furious Flycycle (1968)
  • Rickety Rackety Rooster (1968)
  • How the Children Stopped the Wars (1969) (Reprinted multiple times)
  • The Norman Rockwell Storybook (1969) (Illustrated by Norman Rockwell)
  • Doctor Rabbit (1970) (Doctor Rabbit series)
  • The Wonderful Kite (1970)
  • The Six Voyages of Pleasant Fieldmouse (1971) (Pleasant Fieldmouse series)
  • Magic Heart (1972)
  • Grandmother Told Me (1972) (Illustrated by Mercer Mayer)
  • Pleasant Fieldmouse's Halloween Party (1974) (Illustrated by Wallace Tripp) (Pleasant Fieldmouse series)
  • S.O.S. Bobomobile (1975) (sequel to The Furious Flycycle)
  • The Clumpets Go Sailing (1975) (Illustrated by Cyndy Szekeres)
  • Bear, Wolf, and Mouse (1975) (Illustrated by Kinuko Y. Craft)
  • Doctor Rabbit's Foundling (1977) (Doctor Rabbit series)
  • Frankenstein's Dog (1977)
  • Dracula's Cat (1978)
  • Jamie's Tiger (1978)
  • Pleasant Fieldmouse Story Book (1978) (Pleasant Fieldmouse series)
  • Sylvester Bear Overslept (1979) (Illustrated by Lee Lorenz)
  • Pleasant Fieldmouse's Valentine Trick (1979) (Pleasant Fieldmouse series)
  • The Toy Circus (1986) (Illustrated by Tim Bowers)
  • Doctor Rabbit's Lost Scout (1988) (Doctor Rabbit series)
  • The Golden Christmas Tree (1988)
  • The Adventures of Underwater Dog (1989) (Illustrated by Tim Bowers)
  • The Wizard of Oz Movie Storybook (1989)
  • The Rabbit Club (1990) (Illustrated by Tim Bowers)
  • Tailypo! (1991)
  • Little Eight John (1992)
  • The Six Voyages of Pleasant Fieldmouse (1994) (Illustrated by Tim Bowers)
  • Rosa's Parrot (1999)
  • The Fieldmouse and the Dinosaur Named Sue (2000)
  • Elf Night (2002)
  • Humphrey's Bear (Illustrated by William Joyce) (2005)
  • Candy Shop (2005)
  • Bear Dance (2008)
  • Through a Lens Darkly (2009) (Wahl's autobiographical memoirs)
  • Dear Stinkpot: Letters from Louise Brooks (2010) (Wahl's commentary on and reprints of his correspondence with the noted actress)
  • The Art Collector (2011)
  • The Screeching Door: Three Spooky Tales (2011) (reprint with new additional story)
  • Carl Theodor Dreyer and Ordet (2012) (Walh's recollections of his time working with the famed director and some of the director's film-theory essays)
  • The Long Tall Journey (2015)
  • The Hunter (2018)


  • Avery Hopwood Prize in Fiction, University of Michigan (1955) [2]
  • Young Critic's Award, Bologna International Children's Book Fair for Pocahontas in London (1969)[2]
  • Ohioana Book Award for The Norman Rockwell Storybook(1970)[2]
  • Parents' Choice Literary Award for Tiger Watch(1987) [2]
  • Ohioana Book Award for Humphrey's Bear(1987)[2]
  • Redbook Award for Humphrey's Bear(1987)[2]
  • Christopher Medal for Humphrey's Bear(1987)[2]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Steen, Nancy. "MS 69 - Jan Wahl Collection," Bowling Green State University Library Finding Aids Accessed July 7, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Jan Wahl." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2012. Literature Resource Center. Web. 7 July 2014.