Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Disney and Konrad

On Friday I visited (one of my frequently visited sites). As those who frequent the site know, and for those of you who don't let me tell you, at the top of the page they always have 3 photos side by side, and clicking on them takes you to a trailer for the movie from which the picture was taken. Well, on Friday they had something that drew my attention - a trailer for a Disney movie called "The Odd Life of Timothy Green."

I don't know what drew me to the trailer, but something about it kept whispering to me "Konrad." Now, the premise of the movie has nothing to do with Konrad (I'll explain), but let me say that the movie did look interesting, uplifting, and basically Disney-ish. Translate that into, "McClure thinks I should go see The Odd Life of Timothy Green."

That said, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about Konrad. I am willing to bet NO ONE reading this has any idea who Konrad is. Or was. Well, is, because, as a character in a book, he is immortal.

Give up? I bet even a google search won't help you here.

Konrad was a book I read in junior high. The main characters were, of course, 10 year old Konrad, and his "mother," Mrs. Bartolotti. Notice the quotes around "mother." Mrs. Bartolottoi is not Konrad's mother - nor anyone's at all. She is already past child bearing age and lives alone. She is quite an odd woman, and one day, when the door bell rings, she answers it to find a strange and unsolicited package.

Even stranger, inside the package is what my 12 year old brain stored in memory as a 'dehydrated' Konrad. I think of him like a raisin of a boy, because he pops out of the package, startling Mrs. Bartolotti, and demands she shower him with a special liquid that was delivered with him. Once showered, he rehydrates into what appears to be a normal 10 year old boy.

Except he's not normal - because he is normal to the point of boring, whereas Mrs. Bartolotti is odd, maybe even a bit batty. And then there's the fact that this package was delivered unsolicited - Mrs. Bartolotti had not ordered a 10 year old son, did not particularly feel she wanted one in her life, and worse, had no idea of how to take care of one. Of course, the contrast of his mother's eccentricities with his normalcy is what makes the book so interesting (at least to my then 12 year old mind). And, of course, eventually the factory from which Konrad was sent discovers the shipping error and wants Konrad returned. Unfortunately by that time Konrad and Mrs. Bartolotti have bonded. What's a factory boy and his reluctant middle aged eccentric mother to do?

So no, this is not an article about the lack of imagination in Hollywood. Timothy Green appears to be a very different story than Konrad. Similar enough to make my old brain remember a story from so many years before, and wonder if that book can even be obtained anymore. After a major search, I did find that Konrad was written by Christine Nöstlinger, and is available on

And yes, I highly suggest reading it. :P