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Corduroy coverAuthor and illustrator Don Freeman (Aug 11, 1908 – Jan 1, 1978) is perhaps best known for his beloved Corduroy series of books (Corduroy, A Pocket for Corduroy), but he didn’t set out to make books for children. In his early career, he was known most for his paintings and sketches of the New York theater scene. His love of the world of theater arts is likely what inspired his books Hattie the Backstage Bat and Pet of the Met, which he co-wrote with his wife, Lydia Freeman. In addition to his art, Don Freeman was also an accomplished jazz musician.

Freeman with cornet

Don Freeman playing his cornet

On a site dedicated to his father’s work and memory, Freeman’s son, Roy, tells the story of how his dad first came up with the story of Corduroy, and how he almost never made it into print and into the hands of millions of young readers over the years. His publisher rejected the book at first, eventually coming around some time later. Roy says:

“A lesson to all: if you believe something is good, then do not give up! Corduroy the bear did not give up when he was first rejected because he was missing a button! He perked up his courage and went looking too!”