The original Suzuki Beane is a book published in 1961 centering around a baby beatnick who befriends a ‘square’ kid from school named Henry. She brings him home to her beatnick mom and dad, but they make fun of him for looking so uncool. So Henry invites Suzuki to his house, where his upper crust family is at first charmed, but when Suzuki tries to liven up his cotillion dance class by showing them how to dance free style, she finds herself getting pulled off the dance floor by the scruff of her neck. Go Suzuki Go!
I was about 6 or 7 years old when my father brought this book home. My dad was a cool cat; along with Suzuki Beane he had me reading Lenny Bruce, James Thurner, Macchiavelli, Dante’s Inferno, Archie and Mahitabel (another brilliant book!), Sartre’s Lr Petite Prince (The Little Prince) and other wildly illustrated esoteric classics, all before age 10. Every one of those books had
Baby beatnick Suzuki Beane had a seminal influence on my life, but not many people seem to have heard of her. For those of you uninitiated with this adorable baby beatnick, here’s a YouTube video from 1962 of a pilot for a TV show which was never deveñopped into a series.
Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the original Suzuki Beane:
Suzuki Beane is a humor book written in 1961 by Sandra Scoppettone and illustrated by Louise Fitzhugh. The novel is a downtown satire on Kay Thompson’s Eloise series (1956-59). First published in hardcover by Doubleday & Company, Suzuki Beane reappeared as a McFadden Books paperback that same year.
The story, sometimes described as “the Eloise of Greenwich Village”, is told from the viewpoint of a young child of Bleecker Street beats. Little Suzuki encounters a different lifestyle when she becomes friends with Henry Martin, a rich kid from the Upper East Side. The two learn about life, love and how to deal with prejudice in the early 1960s. The pair finally decide to “run away from home and start a village where a Square can be a square and a swinging cat can swing in peace”.
I own a very valuable hard cover version of this book, which is considered a collector’s item and sells for hundreds of dollars. Here’s the original Suzuki Beane book cover placed next to my book cover of “Whatever Happened to Suzuki Beane?”
One of my favorite parts in the original Suzuki Beane is when she rocks out at her friend Henry’s dance lesson:
Recently I had six of my stories from “Whatever Happened to Suzuki Beane?” translated into Spanish by a professional translator named Ernesto Gómez Cereijo, who did a great job:
Again, I end with the link to my new book in case you missed it the first two times.