Friday, June 20, 2014

Mr. Pine's Purple House Still Inspiring Readers after 50 Years

Professor Storytime’s plan was to write reviews only on recently published children’s books. But after reading Why is Jeff Bezos Sending Out Children's Books Before Amazon's Mystery Event? by Samantha Murphy Kelly, there has been a change in plans. In preparation for a product reveal, the CEO of Amazon (the world’s largest online retailer) sent copies of his favorite childhood picture book to members of the press. A copy of Mr. Pine's Purple House was sent along with a note that read, 

We are excited that you'll be joining us next week in Seattle. Enclosed is my favorite childhood book- Mr. Pine's Purple House. I think you'll agree that the world is a better place when things are a little bit different. See you soon. - Jeff Bezos

May I just say that this is one brilliant marketing strategy! It proves my long-held belief that the books we read as children shape our lives as adults. Now on with the review… 

It is not unusual for today’s picture books to include characters who embrace their unique qualities. Consider Elmer the patchwork elephant, Ruby the Copycat and Stephanie's Ponytail. However, in 1965 when Mr. Pine’s Purple House was first published, celebrating being different was a cutting edge concept for a picture book. Hey, it was the 1960s so it was downright radical! But that is exactly what Leonard Kessler had in mind for the first in a series of three books featuring Mr. Pine. 
Aerial view of tract homes.
Mr. Pine lived on a street with fifty identical white houses. (Think 1960s tract homes.) Every attempt to make his house stand out from the rest was thwarted when all of his neighbors copied each change. Out of frustration, Mr. Pine decided to paint his house purple. When the other neighbors saw the purple house, Mr. Pine feared they would all paint their houses purple too. But he was in for a pleasant surprise. 

Fifty years later, Mr. Pine’s dedication to be different ushers in the latest cell phone technology. A true testament to the power of picture books.


  1. I think asking people what their favorite childhood book was is a great conversation starter! You are right that everyone has a memory of their books.
    I think I'm going to enjoy reading things here! Great idea for a blog!

  2. Thanks F.S.C. When I get a few more followers I will definitely pose that question!

  3. Enjoyed the post. We'll have to discuss our favorite children's books at a future Jubilee meeting.


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