Creator: Rosemary Wells
"Animals can serve as a metaphor and they are easier to write about than human children. For example, with the Yoko series, it might not be considered politically correct for a non-Japanese writer to pen a story about a Japanese character. Since Yoko is a kitten, I can work around this."
—Rosemary Wells, from a Japan Times Interview
Rosemary Wells (1943 -) is a prolific creator of children's picture books and has also written for older audiences. Her two most popular franchises, which have also been adapted for television, are Max and Ruby and Timothy Goes to School. Some other popular titles by her include the Bunny Planet books, the Edward the Unready series (later rereleased as eBooks under the banner "Edward Almost Ready"), the McDuff series and Emily's First 100 Days of Kindergarten. Her nonfiction titles have included Help Children Cope with Divorce and Getting to Know You: Rodgers and Hammerstein Favorites. Some of her works titled at older audiences include Mary on Horseback and The Miraculous Tale of the Two Maries. In all, she has written well over 100 titles. Her most recent series are the Kindergators, about a group of young alligators, and the Sophie books, about a high-spirited two-year-old mouse.Her very first title, published in 1972, was Unfortunately Harriet. It is currently out of print. Her second title, published a year later, was the much more well-known Noisy Nora, which remains in print to this day, with Nora becoming one of the characters on the Timothy Goes to School television series.She is known for the Read to Your Bunny initiative, which, through the book by the same name, and through other media, encourages parents to read to their children for at least 20 minutes a day.She was also involved in the production of the Max & Ruby and Timothy television series. Her official website can be found here.
Tropes often featured in Wells's works include:
- Art Evolution: Her art style for her bunny characters and animals from the 70's - late 90's looked different compared to her newer books.
- Aside Glance: Most of the Max And Ruby books features Max staring at the viewer for some of the covers.
- Timothy does this in the original cover of Timothy Goes To School.
- Yoko can be seen staring at the reader in Yoko, Yoko Learns To Read, Yoko's Show And Tell and Yoko Writes Her Name.
- Timothy and Yoko are both seen staring at the viewer in the book "Letters and Sounds"
- Author Avatar: Miss Jenkins and Miss Cribbage both represents Wells herself.
- An Aesop: Usually, though not always.
- Animated Adaptation: Those that haven't been made into television series have often been adapted as read aloud storybooks for home video, sometimes with animation.
- Breakout Character: Yoko debuted in the original Timothy Goes To School book as one of the students Timothy meets. She would later get her own book series starting in 1998 becoming one of Well's most beloved characters.
- Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Most of her furry characters.
- While Yoko and her mother are always seen barefoot. In "Yoko Writes Her Name" she is seen wearing red shoes and her mother is seen wearing Tabis in "Yoko Learns To Read".
- Character Title: The 1998 book Yoko.
- Cute Kitten: Yoko the main protagonist of the Yoko series.
- Carnivore Confusion: The picture book First Tomato from the Bunny Planet series describes a group of bunny-people children being served bologna sandwiches, which greatly depresses the main character, as this is her least favorite lunch. Another character in the same series has to suffer through a dinner of cold liver chili.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The original 1979 version of ''Max's First Word'' had Max's overalls colored white and was only 6 pages long.◊ The original 1979 book was very small compared to rest of the series, with the exception of Baby Max And Ruby which also had small sized books.
- Every Episode Ending: Every installment of the Voyage to the Bunny Planet books ends with the star character observing the Bunny Planet in the night sky and marveling "It was there all along!"
- Fantastic Racism: Used in Yoko, in which the titular character, a Japanese kitten, is ostracized for eating sushi at lunch.
- Friend to All Children: Janet The Bunny Queen from Voyage To The Bunny Planet.
- Funny Animal or Talking Animal
- Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal
- Huge School Girl: Doris from the Timothy and Yoko books.
- Invisible Parents: Especially in Max and Ruby.
- Japanese Politeness: Yoko and her mother from the Yoko series.
- Kimono: Yoko's mother is always seen wearing this. Yoko herself is seen wearing a Kimono in "Yoko's Show and Tell"
- Mouse World: Often with rabbits, which can be seen in the "First Tomato" story from the "Bunny Planet" series.
- This is also very common in her illustrations for various Mother Goose books. Such as her character Nora showing up in a couple of her illustrations of a Nursery Rhyme.◊
- Meaningful Name: In the Animated Adaptation of Timothy Goes to School. Nora talks very loud and in one episode Fritz refers to Nora as "Noisy Nora" which is a reference to the original book which Nora debuted.
- Nursery Rhyme: Illustrated a couple Mother Goose books in the 1990's.
- Puppy Love: It's been implied◊ in her books starring Yoko or Timothy that they both have a crush on each other◊. Helps that they are both best friends.
- Rascally Rabbit: Mostly Max from Max and Ruby.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Pleasantly averted in her Kindergators series, which actually features anthropomorphic alligators. Some of the children behave badly at times, but this only because they are young and still learning; none of them are actually truly mean or nasty.
- Spin-Off Babies: She made a few books called Baby Max And Ruby which shows Ruby as a young child and Max as a young baby.
- She Also Did: Worked on some of the Illustrations for some of the Rodgers and Hammerstein songs.
- Shrinking Violet: Charles The Mouse is a rare male example. He is mostly very quiet around others and runs away when a certain person come up to him.
- Slice of Life
- Sweet Dreams Fuel: All of her books are like this.
- Limited Wardrobe: Most of the characters featured in "Timothy Goes To School" and "Yoko" books are mostly seen wearing the same clothes.
- Yoko is always seen wearing her red shirt and yellow dress. However in "Yoko's World Of Kindness" she is seen wearing blue shirt and in "Yoko Finds Her Way" and "Yoko Learns To Read" she is seen wearing a purple dress.
- While Yoko's mother is always seen with a Kimono with different colors in a few Yoko and Timothy books. In the Animated Adaptation of Timothy Goes To School she is seen wearing the same outfit when ever she shows up.
- Very Special Episode: Her 1998 book Yoko dealt with racism.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: In her interview for Japan Times, Wells brought up that the first Yoko book was based on an actual event her daughters told her about a student who got made fun of because of the lunch they have.
- Very Special Episode: Well's wrote a book in 1998 book Yoko which deals with racism. The book is about a young kitten named Yoko who is Japanese. In the book, she's getting ready for her first day at school and everything goes fine. Until lunchtime, when Yoko reveals that she's having sushi for lunch, and every student in the school (except for Timothy) makes fun of her for it. This being a children's book, they all accept her in the end. This made it into an episode of the Timothy Goes to School Animated Adaptation.
- World of Funny Animals: With the exception for her books geared toward older audiences.