In the author’s own words, here’s how the Flat Stanley story came about:
“More than thirty years ago, I was saying goodnight to my now grown-up sons, J.C. and Tony (Flat Stanley is dedicated to them), and J.C., stalling for my chat time, asked me not to leave the bedroom. He was scared, he claimed, and when I asked him what he was afraid of he couldn’t think of anything. As I started out again, he had an inspiration. ‘I’m afraid my big bulletin board will fall on me,’ he said. I told him that that was ridiculous; the big board on the wall above his bed had been securely mounted by me, and even if it got loose it would do so so slowly that he wouldn’t even notice it, just go off to sleep, and by the time it rested fully upon him he’d be sound asleep and wouldn’t wake, so the board would just lie there all night. Then I thought of small joke and said: ‘Of course, when you wake up in the morning, you’ll probably be flat.’ Both boys thought that was a hoot and many evenings after that one, we’d make up stories about adventures you could have if you were flat. Best idea I ever had, and I didn’t even know I’d had it. Not for many months, until a friend in the kid-book business, who knew about the flat stories, suggested I make them into a book.”
Jeff Brown was born January 1, 1926 and was busily working on more ideas for Flat Stanley books when he died suddenly December 3, 2003.
The Flat Stanley Project was started in 1995 by Dale Hubert, a third grade schoolteacher in London, Ontario, Canada, to facilitate letter-writing by schoolchildren to each other as they document where Flat Stanley has gone with them. Students begin by reading the book and becoming acquainted with the story. Then they make paper “Flat Stanleys” (or pictures of the Stanley Lambchop character) and keep a journal for a few days, documenting the places and activities in which the character is involved. The Flat Stanley and the journal are mailed to other people who are asked to treat the figure as a visiting guest and add to his journal, then return them both after a period of time.
Flat Stanley first came to my attention when my granddaughter’s first grade class took part in the project this year. Then came the idea to send her own Flat Stanley to New York City to visit her Aunt, our daughter who lives in Queen. Flat Stanley lived with her for a few days and tagged along on several adventures throughout the city. Thus began Flat Stanley’s Adventures in New York City. I hope you’ll come back tomorrow to read a very educational version of a new Flat Stanley adventure. By the way, Jeff Brown went on to write several more Flat Stanley adventures, and the series continues with different authors and illustrators.
Now that you know the inspiration for this much-loved children’s book, think of the inspiration for similar stories you may have had in your own life. Do you have a story (idea) of your own?