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.
  • Audio Adaptation: Some of her books would get it's own Audio CD or Audio book such as "Hazel's Amazing Mother" and the Mother Goose series including some made for Taiwan.
  • Ascended Extra: Some of the characters that we're in Yoko & Friends and Yoko books has gotten more screen time and their own episodes in Timothy Goes to School.
    • While Lilly hasn't been seen the most in some of the books. In the Animated Adaptation, she has around 4 or 5 episodes where she's the main character of the episode or a secondary character. The most notable would be "Don't Lost It Lilly" and "Lifesavor Lilly" both dealing with her forgetfulness problem. Lifesavor Lilly is the best example, which takes that issue more seriously unlike Don't Lost It Lilly since she really wants to take care of the school's class pet. But some of the students think she wouldn't do well as a pet owner. Despite the fact that Lilly herself owns a pet goldfish named Goldy. She even talks to herself alone on her bed about admitting that she's to forgetful to take care of the class pet.
    • Grace also shown up more often in the show than in the books similar to Claude. Due to her being a ballet dancer and two episodes shown her in ballet class with Doris and Yoko.
  • 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,Yoko Writes Her Name, and in a few Yoko & Friends books such as "Mama, Don't Go!" along with her mother, and "The Halloween Parade" along with Timothy.
    • 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 is mostly barefoot. In "Yoko Writes Her Name" she is seen wearing red shoes.
    • Speaking of Yoko how about her mother? In the books she is seen wearing Tabis but is completely barefoot in the TV series.
  • Canon Immigrant/Canon Foreigner: Juanita was exclusive to Animated Adaptation of Timothy Goes to School only showing up in the final two episodes. After the show ended in 2004, Juanita showed up in more of the Yoko & Friends books such as "Make New Friends" and "The Halloween Parade" which shows Juanita getting more used to life in Hilltop School.
  • Character Title: The 1998 book Yoko.
  • Characterization Marches On: In the older Max and Ruby books, Ruby was more of a Deadpan Snarker and sometimes strict with her brother Max. She also used to get easily annoyed and irrated with Max's tricks. In the newer Max And Ruby books starting in the early 2000s, She becomes more nicer and playful around Max but still a Control Freak.
    • Doris another character created by Rosemary Wells who showed up in Animated Adaptation of Timothy Goes to School and the "Yoko & Friends" book series. Started out as an antagonist in the 1985 book "Hazel's Amazing Mother" as one of the bullies that tear up Hazel's doll and made fun of her for owning one. When she reappeared in the original "Timothy Goes To School" and "Yoko & Friends" series along with Charles and Nora. Doris became more tolerable but would sometimes be pushy and get's annoyed very easily during certain situations.
    • One of the oldest characters created by Wells is Nora who debuted in the Noisy Nora book in 1973. In the book she is very mischevious and would be seen knocking down various furniture in her family house. When she showed up in Yoko & Friends and the animated version of Timothy Goes To School. She no longer acts mischevious but instead acts more like a Bratty Half-Pint.
    • Charles wouldn't speak at all in the original book Shy Charles. Of course, this wasn't going to fly for the TV show. Charles was re-imagined as a character that was still shy at times, but also quite imaginative and could be very friendly and talkative if you took the time to get to know him and understand him. He became one of Timothy's best friends.
  • Cute Kitten: Yoko the main protagonist of the Yoko series.
    • Juanita who shows up in the later Yoko books is a cute Spanish cat and a new student.
  • Cool Teacher: Miss Jenkins and Miss Cribbage
  • 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.
  • Dedication: Wells would usually dedicate some of her books to some of her relatives and other people she knows such as "Yoko Writes Her Name" which is dedicated to Brenda, and also gives thanks Satoko Naito and Junko Yokoto. Felix Stands Tall is also dedicated to Val with the message "For My Val"
  • Darker and Edgier: Wells made two books dealing with Divorce and coaping with death both gearing towards older readers. Same goes for the other books she made without her signature animal illustrations such as "Red Moon" which is set during The American Civil War and "Through The Hidden Door".
  • 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 the same thing happens when she brings in ice cream with beans and they find it weird.
  • Friend to All Children: Janet The Bunny Queen from Voyage To The Bunny Planet.
  • Flashback: The beginning of "Yoko's Paper Cranes" shows a very young Yoko still living in Japan with her grandmother Obaasan and her grandfather Ojiisan. Where it shows her grandmother feeding cranes at the end of the pond and tells Yoko they stay for a few months then leave Japan. Her grandfather also teaches her how to make paper cranes.
  • Funny Animal or Talking Animal
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Mostly some of the male animals characters such as Timothy,Frank and Frank, and Fritz. Timothy is sometimes seen wearing overalls in some of his appearances in Yoko And Friends.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: While Juanita and her parents do speak English. They would sometimes drop in some Spanish words into their sentences.
  • Good Parents: Very common in any of her children's books especially the mothers.
  • Greek Mythology: Wells made two Max And Ruby books that contained two stories from Greek Mythology. The first has Ruby reading Max about "Pandora's Box" and the second is about King Midas.
  • Halloween Episode: The Yoko & Friends book "The Halloween Parade".
  • Heel-Face Turn: When Doris reappeared in the Timothy and Yoko books in the 90's. She acts more nicer and sometimes pushy around other students. While she was a bully in the "Hazel's Amazing Mother".
  • Huge School Girl: Doris from the Timothy and Yoko books.
  • The Bible: In Emily's 100 Days Of School, a toy figure of Noah's Ark is seen and brought up by Emily's father.
  • 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" and in a flashback in "Yoko's Paper Cranes".
  • Mouse World: Often with rabbits, which can be seen in the "First Tomato" story from the "Bunny Planet" series.
  • 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.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Even though the Max And Ruby series has been around for 36 years. Max has always been a toddler.
    • Timothy and Yoko also hasn't shown any signs of againing and have been in kindergarten since the mid 90's. Yoko even graduated kindergarten in "Yoko Writer Her Name" but is still stuck in kindergarten.
  • 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.
  • Spexico: Juanita is a Spanish cat. But her home resembles the type of house you would find in Spain and the way her parents dress in the TV series and some of the books appears to resemble the style you would mostly see in Mexico.
  • Silent Protagonist: Charles was originally this in Shy Charles
  • 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.
  • Sixth Ranger: Juanita the kitten joined the class at Hilltop School in laters books of Yoko & Friends and sometimes in the Yoko series.
  • 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
  • Suddenly Voiced: While Charles never spoke in the original book version of Shy Charles. He did speak in the TV series and in Yoko & Friends.
  • Shared Universe: It appears that the characters from Yoko & Friends,Timothy Goes To School, Emily's 100 Days Of School, and Hazel's Amazing Mother all take place in the same universe as shown in Yoko's World Of Kindness.
  • Sweet Dreams Fuel: All of her books are like this. Especially the Yoko,Yoko & Friends, and Bunny Planet
  • Smooch of Victory: While not a victory smooch, Felix appears to get pecked on the cheek by Fiona in "Felix Stands Tall".
  • Time Skip: Felix the Guinea Pig who was a minor character in the Emily books. Is shown to be much older in "Felix Stands Tall".
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Doris was previously a bully in "Hazel's Amazing Mother" but was more sympathetic and mostly a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. Which might explain why Doris would get irritated and annoyed more easily in the TV series.
  • 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.
    • Lilly The Fox is the most notable, since she is mostly seen wearing a blue skirt and a green (Orange in the TV series). In the Yoko & Friends series, she is shown wearing a dress with overalls and a yellow shirt.
  • Valentine's Day Episode: The Yoko & Friends book "Be My Valentine" which is set during that day.
  • Very Special Episode: Her 1998 book Yoko dealt with racism. To a lesser extent "Yoko Writes Her Name" where two female students make for of her Japanese writing. This time she doesn't cry unlike the 1998 book but looks hurt and confused about her Japanese hand writing.
  • 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.