Marc Brown is in town, and I’m proud to say I lived right across the street from his former elementary school. My kids attended the same middle school that he did at Westlake, and there were plenty of inspirations in those schools that appeared in his books.
Lakewood Elementary, Brown’s grade school, was one of those many red-brick buildings that outlived its service, and Millcreek tore it down in the early 1980s. It was located right across the street from Lakewood United Methodist Church. Fortunately, the playground remained and has seen many improvements over the years. My kids all but lived at that playground playing basketball, baseball, soccer, volleyball and more. Westlake Middle School also has some tremendous improvements, but it’s the same place Brown found inspiration for his books. We never met Brown, but in meeting his characters and reading about where they came from, we all felt connected.
My kids grew up watching Arthur on WQLN-TV. We also read the books, along with Mercer Mayer’s book series Little Critter, some of the cutest books ever, and my kids still remember the books and illustrations. You can see, Mercer has a sense of humor — I saw the look on this book cover many times when little my Eckert critters were sent to bed. We still have the books.
If you need some ideas to read to your kids, the Arthur series and Little Critter are two of my favorites. For more on Brown’s visit to Erie, read Sean McCracken’s story here.