50 years ago today: There once was a boy with a little toy drum

Hi everyone,

I’ve been having a grand year celebrating my 50th year as a published children’s author. But today, October 1, 1969, is when A BOY WITH A DRUM was published. My thanks to more than 2,000,000 people who bought a copy. Today it’s official.

My heartfelt gratitude to you, my friends, readers, supporters, and mentors, for continuing to make me gloriously happy. I’m still following that little boy and marching to his music.

The Boy with a Drum

Hi everyone,

Yesterday I spoke to The Hospitality Club at Twin Oaks Country Club in Springfield and enjoyed it very much. Shortly before leaving the house I received a note from a lovely woman named Amy Hebert that began, “rat-a-tat-tat, rum-a-tum-tum.” I knew at once she was talking about THE BOY WITH A DRUM, illustrated by the wonderful artist Eloise Wilkin. Amy told me that her daughter, now in her 30s, loved THE BOY WITH A DRUM when she was six months old and used to bounce and bob to the rhythm of the book. That, of course, made my day.

As we exchanged notes I also learned that Amy’s husband once gave a sermon based on the story. I smiled about that thought as I drove to Twin Oaks and on the way remembered that many years ago a friend of mine who died had THE BOY WITH A DRUM read at her funeral. I was there to hear it.

THE BOY WITH A DRUM was my first children’s book and came out on October 1, 1969. I was paid $350 outright for it and by 1979 it had sold 2 million copies. Later this year I’ll try to remember to have a small celebration on that date. This morning I visited Amazon to capture a picture of the book for this blog and discovered that it is still being reviewed now and then, one as recently as July, 2018. The only reviews that aren’t 5 stars are by people who bought used copies and weren’t happy about the condition of their book. Here’s a typical review.

5.0 out of 5 stars
A Must-Have for Every Child’s LibraryApril 2, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase

This darling little book has gotten oodles of use in my family- so many fond memories. My sisters and I were read it growing up, and once our brother came along….well let’s just say we all STILL have it memorized even now that he’s all grown up and a talented drummer in a band, LOL. It has such a fun rhythm and rhyme to it while telling a story about a little boy playing his drum and meeting different animals along his way. By the end, they’re all following him. You can almost hear his rat-a-tat-tat, rum-a-tum-tum going off into the distance 🙂 Really gets everyone’s feet and hands tapping. Great pictures too. One of those books you won’t mind reading over and over and over…and you WILL 🙂 It’s as enjoyable to read as it is to listen to. I buy this book for every baby shower I attend and I haven’t met a parent, grandparent, or child yet (infant on up) that doesn’t love it (and I was a nanny.) What are you waiting for, buy it already!!

In a 2017 review I read that THE BOY WITH A DRUM was read to a sick infant who died after living only thirty days. The family read the book at his funeral. I’m deeply touched knowing that my simple little story has been so intimately involved in people’s lives.

THE BOY WITH A DRUM hasn’t been in print for decades except for anthologies such as LITTLE GOLDEN BOOK CLASSICS and FARM TALES. I’m grateful that my little boy is still out there, playing his drum and marching over the hill.