VERO BEACH — Hundreds of fans, young and old, greeted Marc Brown, author/creator of both the book and TV series Arthur, at the Children’s store at Vero Beach Book Center.
The 64-year-old Brown treated a crowd of over 100 people to a question and answer session and a reading of his new book, Arthur Goes Green.
“I never thought (Arthur) would turn into a book, or even more than one book, or tv shows that people watch in more than 80 countries around the world now,” said Brown.
“I’ve written 105 books so far, someone counted them for me at one of the schools I visited. I was surprised I had made so many books–I’d never counted them before.”
The Arthur series of books sold five million copies over its first 20 years of print. After the Arthur TV series was launched in 1996, 45 million books from the Arthur series sold over the next five years.
Brown’s career as a children’s book author was born from a bedtime story he was telling to one of his sons. He’d just been informed the college he was teaching at would be closing, and that he would be out of a job.
“I went to my job where I had a letter in my mailbox which said the college would be closing–good luck and have a nice life,” Brown said. “As I was tucking in my son later that night, he asked if I’d tell him a bedtime story. I said, ‘I’m kind of depressed tonight, I just lost my job.’ He said, ‘C’mon dad, maybe it’ll make ya feel better.’ And of course it did make me feel better.”
Brown’s son wanted to hear a story about a weird animal, and going through his mind alphabetically, the first animal Brown thought of was an aardvark. Not knowing what an aardvark looked like, Brown drew his first sketch of what would become Arthur.
“I remembered that aardvarks have really long noses, so I started by drawing a long nose,” Brown said. “I drew a mouth, two little nostrils, and his eye. When I drew his eyebrow, it looked like he was worried about something. That’s when I got the idea for the story–he’s worried about his nose. If I had a nose like that, I would be worried about it.”
“I drew his ears, and my son told me they looked like ping-pong paddles,” added Brown. “I (drew) a shirt on him, so he was ready to go to school. My son said, ‘Dad, aardvarks don’t go to school.’ I said, ‘Well, this aardvark does go to school.’ That started the first story.”
Brown read Arthur Goes Green as a projection screen followed page-by-page with a slide presentation of the book. He then stayed for a book signing, where he also posed for pictures with fans.
“I do consider (my fans) my boss, you know,” Brown added. “I like to hear what you guys are thinking about. I got fired from a lot of jobs before I had this one, and I really love my job. I don’t want to get fired from this job.”