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Franny and Randy are twins who live with their aunt at the edge of a dense forest. There they meet a mysterious old man who is always surrounded by cats. The townspeople avoid the odd character they call the Over-the-Edge Cat Person, but he shares his real name with the friendly twins and makes their secret wish come true. Recommended for children ages 7 to 9.
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Thirty years ago, Professor Ulrich Knoepflmacher of Princeton University began to teach children s literature a subject, he said in a New York Times interview, the academic world did not take seriously. A major scholar of British 19th-century literature, Knoepflmacher brought new respect to the field of kiddie lit and helped create a generation of critics focused on children s literature. In 2007 he received the lifetime achievement award of the Children s Literature Association. Knoepflmacher is Paton Foundation Professor Emeritus of Ancient and Modern Literature at Princeton, where he has taught for 31 years. He was a professor of English at the University of California at Berkeley for the previous 17 years. He is the author of Ventures into Childland: Victorians, Fairy Tales, and Femininity; Religious Humanism and the Victorian Novel; George Eliot's Early Novels: The Limits of Realism; Laughter and Despair: Readings in Ten Novels of the Victorian Era; and Wuthering Heights: A Study. Knoepflmacher s annotated Penguin editions of children s classics, Frances Hodgson Burnett: A Little Princess and George MacDonald: The Complete Fairy Tales, have undergone several printings. In 2007, Knoepflmacher received two prestigious awards: the Anne Devereaux Jordan Lifetime Achievement Award of the Children s Literature Association for his lasting contributions to the field of children s literature and Princeton s Howard T. Behrman Award for distinguished achievement in the humanities. His other awards include fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Knoepflmacher fled Vienna with his parents in 1939 and grew up in the village of Oruro, Bolivia.Review:
SCHOLAR OF CHILDREN'S LITERATURE AUTHORS A BOOK FOR YOUNGSTERS By Katherine Federici Greenwood Authors who write for children 'go back to their own childhood,' says Ulrich ('Uli') Knoepflmacher (Class of '61). The children's literature scholar and emeritus professor of English at Princeton--called a 'child with white hair' by one of his students--has done just that in penning and illustrating his first children's book. Published by the small independent press Writings, 'Franny, Randy, and the Over-the-Edge Cat Person' is about twins whose doctor-parents have left them for months in the care of their kind aunt while they treat victims of an epidemic in a 'faraway' country. Knoepflmacher's personal imprint on the book is partly visual. While the twins secretly yearn for the return of their parents--who they fear might never come home--they befriend an odd old man who takes care of hungry cats and who is shunned by most people in town. Named Elias, the man looks a lot like the author himself--with white hair and rumpled clothes. (Like the character, Knoepflmacher is a cat-lover.) The twins' feelings of abandonment by their parents are based partly on Knoepflmacher's experience as a Jewish refugee during World War II. He never was separated from his Austrian parents, but he was separated from his culture as his family fled Vienna in 1939 and emigrated to Bolivia. Knoepflmacher, who is working on a memoir of his early life, worried that he might be sent to England on the Kindertransport, the rescue mission that placed Jewish children in British foster homes, hostels, and farms. Later he wondered if his father, a civil engineer in charge of a mine in the Bolivian mountains, might be injured or killed. The old man in the story who helps 'those who need me' is endowed with special powers. He knows what the children want most--their parents--and in the end, he magically disappears as the twins' parents return unexpectedly. Knoepflmacher--a specialist in Victorian literature who taught courses on children's literature at Princeton for nearly 30 years and is credited with bringing new respect to the field--sprinkles his story with allusions to classics. The twins' teacher reads them a story about a camel that always said 'Humph'--a nod to a Rudyard Kipling tale. The twins' names are drawn from authors Knoepflmacher admires: Franny for 'A Little Princess' author Frances Hodgson Burnett, and Randy for the poet and children's author Randall Jarrell. Some readers might recognize that the name of the old man, Elias, recalls Elijah, who in rabbinic literature appears in times of trouble to promise redemption and plant hope. Still, Knoepflmacher wrote his tale for kids, ages 7 to 9. So he doesn't bother explaining in the book what happens to the parents or why they are gone so long. 'That is adult stuff,' says Knoepflmacher, and children aren't very interested in that. He adds, 'The child [just] wants the parents back.' --Princeton Alumni Review
BY ADAM GRYBOWSKI, The Princeton Packet -- After spending a career as a critic of children's books, Uli Knoepflmacher wondered if he could write one himself. A recipient of the lifetime achievement award from the Children's Literature Association as well as a scholar of 19th-century British literature, Mr. Knoepflmacher has written and illustrated his first book for children, 'Franny, Randy, and the Over-the-Edge Cat Person.' . . . 'I put myself into this book,' he says. The theme of abandoned or lonely children--a perennial theme in children's stories, from 'Hansel and Gretel' to Harry Potter--is one close to Mr. Knoepflmacher's life. 'As a child in Europe I was aware of a possible separation from my parents,' he says. The Knoepflmachers fled Europe in 1939, fearful of Hitler's growing power. They landed in South America--'the only place that was open,' Mr. Knoepflmacher says. He wasn't yet 8 years old. . . . A former student once called Mr. Knoepflmacher a 'child with white hair,' a description he endorsed. Every writer and reader of children's stories is a former child, he likes to say, and the stories of our youth offer a chance for adults to rekindle their childhood feelings. . . . After high school he attended the University of California-Berkeley, where . . . he chose to study architecture, which his father thought would unite his son's talent for math and drawing. Mr. Knoepflmacher continued his education in English at Princeton University, where he earned a doctorate before returning to Berkeley to assume his first teaching duties. The Victorianist asked the head of his department if he could teach a course in 'the golden age of children's literature'--the Victorian era. As an academic field, children's literature had yet to attain status as a serious discipline. Mr. Knoepflmacher expected about 35 students to sign up for his class. On the first day, 275 students awaited him. 'They were hanging from the chandeliers,' he says. 'I knew there was a gold mine here.' In creating his own children's book, Mr. Knoepflmacher modeled himself after E. B. White and his 1952 masterwork, 'Charlotte's Web.' 'It is THE American masterpiece,' the scholar says. 'It is a book that can be read on a variety of levels. My conviction is that it needs to be read at different levels of one's life.' As in 'Charlotte's Web,' 'Franny' contains a color drawing on the cover and black-and-white ink drawings on the inside, as well as chapter headings. Mr. Knoepflmacher also mentions Rudyard Kipling as an influence. 'In an indirect way Kipling stands behind this because he has a total respect for the child and he doesn't condescend,' he says. And, like Kipling, Mr. Knoepflmacher illustrated his own story. 'I'm not a great artist--I'm not Maurice Sendak,' he says. His handouts were known among students for the drawings he included in the margins, he says, and he also used the blackboard as a canvas. In discussing the importance of pictures for kids, he says, 'The child sees things in there that the adult might skip. . . . As children we look at picture books and there are icons we understand before we master the art of language.' In addition to his many books of criticism, Mr. Knoepflmacher wrote the introduction for the Penguin edition of the classics George MacDonald's 'Complete Fairy Tales' and Frances Hodgson Burnett's 'A Little Princess.' He's found the transition from critic to author 'tremendously satisfying,' he says. 'It's more of a continuum than you might think.' --The Princeton Packet Newspapers and centraljersey.com
THE MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW - CHILDREN'S BOOKWATCH - REVIEWER'S CHOICE 'Franny, Randy, and the Over-the-Edge Cat Person' is a unique creation by a talented and award-winning author who models his work in the footprints of E. B. White ('Charlotte's Web') and Rudyard Kipling. A professor and critic of children's literature, Mr. Knoepflmacher brings many diverse abilities and sensitivities to his creation. Like 'Charlotte's Web,' 'Franny and Randy' can be read by people of widely varied ages, with different levels of meaning and significance. 'Franny, Randy' tells the tale of seven-year-old twins who must temporarily reside with their aunt while their doctor parents have gone missing on a disease-fighting mission to Asia. They experience rejections and stigma due to their differences, and they mysteriously meet an old man with mystical powers who becomes their friend and ally. Lots of hidden meanings and words and ideas emerge in 'Franny, Randy', but perhaps one of its more appealing and eccentric characteristics is the old man's love of cats, which he conveys deeply and sympathetically to the children. 'Franny, Randy' is a unique book that will secretly delight and educate all who come in contact with it, from age 6 to age 60. --The Midwest Book Review - Children's Bookwatch
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Book Description Writings, 2009. Condition: New. Uli Knoepflmacher (illustrator). book. Seller Inventory # M098257150X