I hadn’t thought about Flat Stanley for a looooong time. And then my 7-year-old niece called from Arizona to ask if he could come visit us for a couple of weeks.
The original Flat Stanley was born in 1964 to proud parents author Jeff Brown and illustrator Tomi Ungerer. Flat Stanley loved the giant bulletin board his father hung over his bed–until it fell on him in the night and squashed him flat! Deciding to make the best of it, Stanley did such things as sliding under doors to get into locked rooms (cool), getting his brother to fly him like a kite (cooler), and posing as a painting on the wall in a museum to catch some art thieves (coolest). But being flat is only fun for so long, and Stanley returned to normal when his brother, Arthur, fixes him with a bicycle pump. Fun story! And one enjoyed by tons of kids for many years.
Jeff Brown wrote five sequels to Flat Stanley from 1983 until his death in 2003, so Flat Stanley got to do such things as visit space and have a Christmas adventure. In 2009, the Flat Stanley’s Worldwide Adventures series was launched and features authors Sara Pennypacker and Josh Greenhut.
In celebration of Flat Stanley turning 50, the original six books were reissued in December 2013 with completely new illustrations by Macky Pamintuan and an accompanying website. It’s neat to see the books appeal to a new generation, but I still prefer Flat Stanley’s classic look.
The Flat Stanley Project
In 1995, Dale Hubert, a third-grade teacher in Canada, created The Flat Stanley project–a pen-pal-type project where teachers sign up their classrooms and students to exchange Flat Stanleys with each other, take pictures of Flat Stanley, and write about his adventures in another city, state, or country. I vaguely remember my daughter participating back in the early 2000s, but not well enough to share any details.
The Flat Stanley Project is still going strong today, and its website facilitates the registration and matching of classrooms, includes templates for Flat Stanleys and other flat characters, has archives of pictures and stories, and gives ideas for curriculum connections. For those who don’t want to pay postage, there is now a Flat Stanley App available from iTunes that allows you to send a virtual Flat Stanley or Stacie around the world!
Flat Stanley’s Illinois visit
My niece’s Flat Stanley is the traditional kind–made with construction paper and crayons and folded flat in an envelope that says “Handle with Care. FRAGILE. Flat Stanley inside! Real Boy!” 🙂 There’s also a letter from the teacher with instructions and the school’s return address. Since Flat Stanley is used to living in Arizona, it was fortunate that he arrived this afternoon–along with a snow storm. Our family can’t wait to take him on some winter adventures and share them with my niece and her class!