Amelia Bedelia Author Shines Spotlight On Literal-minded Star of Children's Books During Mary Kay McMillin Visit

Between presentations, Amelia Bedelia author Herman Parish author signed books that had been pre-ordered by students at Mary Kay McMillan Early Childcare Center. Credits: Barbara Rytolt
Following the talk, author Herman Parish, Mary Kay McMillan teacher Laurie Conlin, Amelia Bedelia, aka Lauren Cottam, and her son, Liam, posed for a photo together. Credits: Barbara Rybolt
Herman Parish's Aunt Peggy Parish wrote the first 12 Amelia Bedelia books came to MKMECC to talk about his aunt, her books and those he has written since her death. Credits: Barbara Rybolt
One dressed chicken! Credits: Barbara Rybolt
Amelia Bedelia also made an appearance, along with two chickens she dressed for lunch.   Credits: Barbara Rybolt
Children gave their full attention to Amelia Bedelia author Herman Parish on Tuesday, Dec. 1, at Mary Kay McMillan Early Childcare Center.   Credits: Barbara Rybolt

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Amelia Bedelia is famous, perhaps infamous is a more appropriate word, for putting dusting powder on furniture, putting out light bulbs on clothes lines, and looking for cutlery in the roadway while out driving. She can also bake delicious pies, which saves the day more than once.

On Tuesday, Dec. 1, Herman Parish, the nephew of Peggy Parish, the author of the beloved children's book series chronicling Amelia Bedelia's misadventures, came to Mary Kay McMillan Early Childhood Center. Students and teachers hung on his every word as he talked about his aunt and the books she and he have written about the oh so very literal character.

When Peggy Parish died at the age of 61, in 1988, after finishing her 12th book in the series, it seemed as though that was the end of the beloved children's book series, Herman Parish told the children.

Sign Up for E-News

But, for years "we got two thousand letters a year from children looking for a new Amelia Bedelia book," the Princeton resident said. After lots of thinking, note-taking and hard work, he wrote and published the first of his Amelia Bedelia books.

Parish said his aunt used to take real-life incidents and turn them into stories about Amelia Bedelia. He thinks that his aunt even came up with the idea of a literal-minded housekeeper after hearing stories about her grandparents' maid. The Rogers, her grandparents, had lots of household help, but one of them "was hopeless with housework," Parish said. When asked to sweep around the room, that was what she would do, leaving dust and dirt in the center, as she only swept along the perimeter of the room. He said he thinks Amelia Bedelia was modeled on this maid and her employers, Mr. and Mrs. Rogers, at the very least, took their names from  his aunt's grandparents.

Parish, a former Summit resident, said when he decided to write his first Amelia Bedelia book, he carried a small notebook around with him so he could record odd happenings. One day, while driving with his wife, who was following directions on a map to their destination, they came to a "T" intersection. Parish said he asked if he should turn left, and his wife said "right."

He asked the children, "What do you think my wife meant?" and many of them thought she meant he was correct, he should turn left, while others thought she meant he should turn right. Parish thought she meant turn right and soon they were lost. They eventually turned around and, while discussing his driving, he claimed his wife said, "Left is right."

That statement prompted giggles all around from his audience. Parish said before getting out of the car, he scribbled "left is right" in his notebook and, later, thought of other silly driving misunderstandings that Amelia Bedelia might make, which is where he came up with having her searching for forks on the street, when told to turn "left at the fork," or not turning right when told "bear right." All of which appeared in "Good Driving, Amelia Bedelia," his first book in his series.

It's hard to keep 100 youngsters captivated, but a special appearance by Amelia Bedelia, who dropped by to bring some "dressed" chickens in for lunch, did the trick. The chickens were very fancy, one wore a tux, the other a lovely dress. She also dusted some students and teachers, then went back at  Parish's insistence and "undusted" them. She even brushed a teacher's hair - with a very large brush, much to the amusement of the students.


Parish has gone on to write many more books than his aunt did about Amelia Bedelia -- but not just as a housekeeper. He's written other, Level 1 readers, about her as a first grade student and chapter books about her as a fourth grade student.

Following the talk and slide show, he posed for some photos, then went back to the library to sign hundreds of pre-ordered books and got ready for a second presentation for another group of students.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights

TAPinto Spotlight on Business Features New Providence Dentistry

July 17, 2018

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - TAPinto "Summer Spotlight on Business" features local businesses and their owners who are important to our communities. Follow this column to receive a fresh perspective on small business owners and their unique needs while shining a spotlight on their stories.

This edition features New Providence Dentistry, operated by Dr. Beth Herko and her staff of ...

Avoiding 10% Tax Penalty

Do you want access to money from your retirement accounts but aren't sure of the real costs involved?

Most retirement accounts have a set age requirement you must reach before making penalty-free income distributions, which is usually 59.5 but can sometimes be as early as age 50. If you decide to access your accounts earlier, you could face penalties ranging from 10%-25%, which is not ...

Beneficiary Forms - As Important as Your Will

As you plan for the future, don’t leave out one of the most overlooked must-do’s: naming the beneficiaries of your retirement assets. Updating your beneficiary forms ensures that the legacy you worked so hard to build will be distributed correctly. Don’t delay -- the designations on your beneficiary forms supersede those stated in your Will. 

Try answering the ...

Enjoy a Lifetime of Discovery in Union County Parks

July 18, 2018

July is National Parks and Recreation Month, and Union County residents are invited to celebrate this year by exploring “undiscovered” programs and activities found throughout the nearly 6,200 acres of the Union County parks system.

“Union County was one of the very first counties in the United States to establish its own county-based park system for nature conservation and ...

Union County Honored for History Projects

ELIZABETH, NJ - The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to announce that two national achievement recognitions for history projects have been presented to the Union County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs, a division of the Department of Parks and Recreation.

“Union County is rich in history, and this Freeholder Board is committed to engaging the public with ...

Union County College Foundation’s 3rd “Close the Gap” Campaign Surpasses Goal

CRANFORD, NJ – With over 150 guests and volunteers in attendance, the Union County College Foundation surpassed their goal and raised nearly $55,000 at their 3rd Annual Close the Gap Campaign cocktail reception. Held on July 11, in the Richel Student Commons at the College’s Cranford campus, this campaign was developed by a small group of dedicated community volunteers to support the ...

ReNew Salon and Spa Welcomes Senior Stylist Joan Mormilo

GILLETTE, NJ - ReNew Salon and Spa welcomes Senior Stylist Joan Mormilo to their staff. Mormilo brings with her over 20 years of excellent customer service in the salon and spa industry.

She has extensive product knowledge, focuses on keeping up-to-date on industry standards and practices, believes in mentoring young stylists, and is a team player who strives to ...

Geoffrey the Giraffe Moves In To New Brunswick Children's Hospital

July 12, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Over a stretch of nearly 70 years, Geoffrey the Giraffe at Toys R Us stores was the symbol of happy times for generations of children, and now he may provide those same feelings for children coming to a hospital.

"From this day forward, Geoffrey stands tall in our lobby to encourage our smallest patients to smile when they enter our facilities," said John ...

Upcoming Events


Sat, July 21, 10:30 AM

New Providence Memorial Library, New Providence

Cuba: Observations of a Photographer

Arts & Entertainment Travel

Sat, July 21, 10:30 AM

New Providence Memorial Library, New Providence

Cuba: Observations of a Photographer at NPML

Arts & Entertainment

Sun, July 22, 2:00 PM

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Moths and other Pollinators

Education Green


Tue, July 24, 3:00 PM

Grillestone Restaurant , Scotch Plains

Hear the Story of Amelia Earhart, America's Most ...

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink


Tue, July 24, 5:30 PM

Summit YMCA, Summit

Summit Area YMCA Swim Team Tryouts July 24th

Health & Wellness

Special June Episode of 'Berkeley Heights Here & Now' Features 6th Annual Street Fair

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – The Berkeley Heights Communications Committee (BHCC) today announced a special edition of Berkeley Heights Here & Now is available on the Township website,


The special episode features the 6th Annual Berkeley Heights Street Fair held on June 24 and includes onsite interviews with attending residents/visitors, event ...

And Over Here is the Dining Hall 2

My very first job in admissions was while I was still an undergraduate myself as a tour guide.  Very early on they indoctrinated us with some tricks of the trade.  It’s a dining hall, not a cafeteria.  A residence hall, not a dorm.  If you have to divulge some negative bit of information, sandwich it between two positives.  There were instructions for glossing over ...

Women Have Special Financial Needs That Advisors Overlook

Women have special financial needs that advisors overlook in two ways: 1) advisors don’t always acknowledge the different planning needs women have and 2) advisors don’t always communicate well with female clients – especially if the client comes to a meeting with her husband. It’s very common for a male advisor to spend much or most of the face time in meetings talking to ...

5 Simple Ways to Save Water this Summer

According to the L.A. Times, the average American uses an estimated 98 gallons of water EACH day.  

Here are five simple ways you can save water, to help you conserve water this summer and take some pressure off of your drains.

1. Unless you are using it, turn the faucet off. How many of us still leave the water running while we shave or brush our teeth?According to ...