Friday, May 4, 2012
Kids Say the Darndest Things
My name is Mr. Dracula
My cape is red and blackula
And why his delightful couplet reminded me of Dickie Birkenbush, I guess, is maybe not so obvious... Dickie was the twelve year old young man who provided the ending to Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel to Virginia Hamilton while she was dining with his family on their farm.* Hamilton had shared the fact with her dinner hosts that she had literally written Mike and Mary Anne into a corner. Dickie suggested that the steam shovel could become the building's heating source. "My father had a garage in town that had a steam heating system, so I was familiar with it." Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel is, to my knowledge, the only children's picture book with an actual credit (only in the book's original edition) to a pint-sized problem solver, carefully acknowledged on page 39. Though Dickie Birkenbush was really Dick Berkenbush, the spelling was never corrected. But no matter. A little boy's creativity helped to save the day. And you just never know where those little boys are going to turn up.
*www.boston.com/ae/books/articles/2006/03/30/as_a_child_his_steam_fueled_hot_1939_childrens_classic/. Retrieved 2007-07-04.