Happy 90th, Joan Walsh Anglund!

Damn! “06880” missed Joan Walsh Anglund’s 90th birthday by a day.

I’m sure she’d have something wise, clever — and very, very soothing — to say about that.

The poet/author/illustrator — who spent many years in Westport, and raised her children here — wrote over 120 children’s and inspirational books. They’ve sold more than 50 million copies, and been translated into 17 languages.

Joan Walsh Anglund quote

Among her most famous quotes:

  • Do not be sad that you have suffered. Be glad that you have lived.
  • Life is in the living. Love is in the giving.
  • Where is the yesterday that worried us so?

Wikipedia says that last year, a US Postal Service stamp commemorating Maya Angelou contained Anglund’s quote “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song” — seemingly tying it to Angelou.

That’s not the first time. President Obama wrongly attributed the sentence to Angelou when he presented the 2013 National Medal of Arts and Humanities to her.

“I hope it’s successful,” Anglund said of the stamp when it was issued.

In the 1960s and early ’70s, Staples High School principal James Calkins — who spoke often of the importance of love — frequently quoted Anglund to the student body.

"Do You Love Someone?" -- one of Joan Walsh Anglund's many illustrated books.

“Do You Love Someone?” — one of Joan Walsh Anglund’s many illustrated books.

When Calkins left Staples, Anglund’s daughter — a student there — thanked him using her mother’s words: “I did not hear the words you said. Instead, I heard the love.”

A website dedicated to Anglund lists a few of her famous fans: Eleanor Roosevelt, Queen Elizabeth, Cary Grant, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Ethel Kennedy, Carol Burnett, Helen Hayes, Phyllis Diller, Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, Rosemary Clooney, Shirley Jones, the Emperor of Japan and Elizabeth Taylor.

And, it adds helpfully, “etc.”

“06880”  joins Joan Walsh Anglund’s many admirers — in Westport, and the world — in saying: “Happy 90th birthday!”

Or, to quote herself: “A (person’s) health can be judged by which he takes two at a time: pills or stairs.”


14 responses to “Happy 90th, Joan Walsh Anglund!

  1. Happy Birthday, Joan Walsh Anglund! I spent my childhood in Westport collecting her books, dolls, and standing in line at Christmastime at the Remarkable waiting for her to autograph her latest book. My doll was “Love” and my sister’s doll was “Friend.” I handed my books and dolls down to my daughter who loved them during her childhood. Timeless work. Her words helped guide my youth in a simple yet profound ways, and today’s children could benefit from them. Bring her books and their lessons back front and center for our children.

  2. I too remember waiting at the Remarkable Bookshop to have a book autographed by Joan Walsh Anglund. It was “A Pocketful of Proverbs” and I still have it. She wrote all in lowercase letters and even drew a little bird on a nest for me. I loved her sayings and her drawings. Jim Calkins used the quotation “I did not hear the words you said, instead I heard the love” in a school assembly in the gym while we were at Staples and I made an embroidery piece of that saying for him before I left Staples.

  3. Bonnie Scott Connolly

    I was in her daughter Joy’s class. I did not have a book autographed by Joan. As was the case of Joan and many other classmate’s parents, I don’t think I realized the magnitude of talented and famous parents/people around me in Westport when I was growing up. Happy 90th Birthday.

  4. Laurence S. Untermeyer

    Dating from the 1950’s Joan and her family were close friends of my family. During that period Joan Walsh Anglund beautifully illustrated a number of small books of poetry by my father through Golden Press in New York; one such book is titled, “For You With Love,” published/printed in 1960 and is still in print and has been translated into several languages. A most happy 90th birthday to a very talented lady.

  5. Joan is warmer, kinder and gentler than anyone you could ever know.
    Loved by all who know her and the millions who know her through her books.

    Our family is fortunate that my sister Lisa and Joan’s daughter, Joy became instant friends at Kings Highway School in 1958. The rest is a beloved shared history of two families – notable for its joy, celebration, loss, birth, renewal, constancy and certainly champagne – over six decades.

    The world is lucky to have Joan Walsh Anglund. Her talent, spirit and soul are indelible. Happy 90th Joan – forever young

  6. What a beautiful tribute, David.

  7. Jill Turner Odice

    I was best friends with Joan’s son Todd during my years at Staples. Every morning she would drive him to school and pick me up along the way. I spent lots of time at the home in Westport and she was always so kind to me.
    When we had 3 kids from Ireland come to visit, Joan autographed some of her little books for them with her lovely illustrations. They loved those nooks!
    The last time I saw her and Todd, was at his first Art show opening in NYC at the Park Lane Gallery Oct 26 1981. Todd was so excited to have his own art show 🙂
    Over the years, I moved away to Cape Cod, but we stayed in touch, he always sent me a hand drawn birthday or Christmas card. Then the letters and cards stopped coming…It wasn’t until a few years later that I got a message from my Mom that his dad had called for me to let me know Todd had died. How sad to die so young. His Mom ended up writing a book about it called “The Friend We Have Not Met: Poems of Consolation.
    I will never forget my years of friendship with Todd and how generous and kind Mrs Anglund always has been.
    Happy birthday Joan…

  8. What a wonderful day to celebrate Joan Walsh Anglund’s 90th birthday! This occasion sent me scurrying to my bookcase where her book, “A Friend is Someone Who Likes You” resides with the rest of my treasures. What makes this book even more special are the friends who gave me the book at a pivotal point in my life when I was preparing to depart Connecticut for Colorado many years ago. Each friend signed the book with thoughts that still resonate. The occasion of Mrs. Anglund’s birthday gives us an opportunity to think about our favorite Joan Walsh Anglund book. I reread “A Friend is Someone Who Likes You” first thing this morning. Thank you, Mrs. Anglund … then and now. Wishing you a most Happy Birthday.

  9. Dolores Bacharach

    Her books were small, but large in wisdom. Happy, Happy Birthday Joan Walsh Anglund.

  10. Can someone recommend one of her books to buy, with the most cool quotes? – Chris Woods

  11. Margaret Hart Rynshall

    She lived on Kings Hwy South down the street from me and every year during the holidays I now copy what she did with her 4 front windows… lights that spell “NOEL”. My neighbors look forward to it and I think of her every year and give her credit when possible. I also have two of her calendars that I wrote in like a diary during high school. Thank you and Happy Birthday, Joan Walsh Anglund!

  12. Linda (Pomerantz) Novis

    Growing up in the sixties,I,too,had my copy of ‘A Friend is Someone Who Likes You’..:-)

  13. Myra Ellis Parker

    ​I have such great memories of her books, dolls and the Remarkable Book Store!​