Corduroy: Viola Davis

Like her mama, my daughter has quite the collection of books, including a few classics. A recent reading of Corduroy took me back to my childhood. I remembered the book, but I didn’t remember Lisa or her mother being black.

I immediately assumed, well if the characters are black, the author must be too–but nope. In a letter to his editor, he discusses how Corduroy came to be, but there are no answers as to why he chose black characters. I hate to question whether this may have been the reason why the book was rejected for publication so many times. Freeman writes of his picture book:

“Just possibly you would like to hear something of the background of Corduroy as I Don-Freemanfirst came upon it… Of course I can’t remember exactly how it started, but I do recall wanting to do a story about a department store in which a character wanders around at night after the doors close. Then I also wanted the story to show the vast difference between the luxury of a department store [and] the simple life [most people live]. The idea of simple basic values was another theme that was running around in the back of my head. I don’t remember how or when a toy bear came into my life, but he must have come from way out of my past. You know, I could just see a bear wearing corduroy overalls with one button missing … the minute I settled on Corduroy and Lisa, everything came together.” (Read more . . . )

Like myself, Viola Davis also came across Corduroy again during reading time with her daughter. Unlike me, instead of writing a blog post, she created an entirely new book, Corduroy Takes a Bow. Why?

Kismet played a key role in the conception of Corduroy Takes a Bow—and Davis’s davis-violainvolvement in the project. Three years ago, with Corduroy’s 50th anniversary on the horizon, Viking senior editor Leila Sales decided to find “a public figure with a significant following” to write a new Corduroy story. “I had no clue who that person might be, but I mentioned the idea to all of team Corduroy at a brand meeting, and everyone agreed to give it some thought,” she explained. “A few months later, I got an email from Kim Ryan, our subsidiary rights director, who had seen Viola posing with a copy of Corduroy in an Entertainment Weekly photo essay showing celebrities with their favorite kids’ books. Kim said, ‘Viola Davis, of course!’ and it was so ‘of course.’ Viola was exactly the author I’d been imagining—and I didn’t even know it.” (Read more . . .)

Looks like we need to add a few new Corduroy books to our collection.

Back to reading, y’all!

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