We know our kids’ favorite cartoon or storybook characters. We can list their names, tell their jokes, possibly even remember what they are usually wearing. But, do we know what inspired these lovable characters? Some of us might assume that the illustrated object of our child’s affection was created in a darkened computer studio somewhere in Hollywood, where children are simply test subjects and demographics. This might be the case for some children’s media, but a little research shows that many of today most loved characters were created for or inspired by real boys and girls just like our own.
Olivia the Pig- This rambunctious piglet makes mischief and fun everywhere she goes. Her creator, Ian Falconer, created the character as a gift for his brand new baby niece. The book was eventually picked up by a publishing house that had been impressed by Falconer’s work with The New Yorker. Today, Olivia is the star of various picture books, board books and gifts. Olivia toys can be purchased at many toy stores across the nation and she has her own animated television show on Nick Jr.!
Charlie and Lola- This is yet another television show adapted from popular children’s picture books. The characters are Charlie and his younger sister, Lola. Much of the stories surround the duo’s relationship and the everyday scenarios that most brothers and sisters encounter. The author, Lauren Child, was inspired to create the series of books after meeting a young, inquisitive stranger on a train in Denmark!
Thomas the Train- Although not based on an actual child, this very popular character comes from a series of train stories told, originally, from father to son at bedtime. Those stories—published as The Railway Series books—were developed into a British television show that eventually made its way through various adaptations and into the Thomas and Friends series that we all know and love.
It appears that inspiration is all around us! It might only be a matter of time until your lovable child becomes the next star of his own television series!