Infinity and Beyond
Because of his dimensions, Flat
Stanley can go places few of us will ever go, like outer space. In
1999, Stanley accompanied pilot Rick Husband aboard the Space
Shuttle Discovery, mission STS-96, the first to dock with the
International Space Station.
NEWSWEEK WEB EXCLUSIVE
August 17— Yes,
you can say he’s a shallow celebrity, but you can’t deny his
accomplishments: he’s been all around the world, starred on
prime-time TV and flown aboard the space shuttle (twice). Most
important: school kids love him.
Who is he? The unlikeliest of pop-culture icons is Flat
Stanley, a paper cutout inspired by a 1964 children’s book of the
same name about a boy squished flat by a falling bulletin board
who makes the most of his potentially distressing situation by
folding himself up inside in an envelope and mailing himself to
In recent years, a swarm of homemade mailborne Flat Stanleys
have been going places in imitation of the hero of Jeff Brown’s
book. Since 1995, when Dale Hubert, a grade-school teacher in
London, Ontario, launched the Flat Stanley Project, Flat Stanley
has been showing up in the oddest places, from network TV to Tibet
to low-earth orbit. Hubert’s idea was for his third graders to
create their own Flat Stanleys out of paper and send them off to
other schools for a few weeks as an “exchange student.” Flat
Stanley would arrive with a journal in which his hosts could
record all of his adventures and activities. The goal was to
inspire kids to read and write letters and e-mails to other kids.
Hubert says his students found it far more stimulating than the
rote pen-pal routine of “How are you? I am fine.” Since then,
other teachers have come up with ways to incorporate Flat Stanley
into lessons on English, math and social studies.
It being the ’90s, Hubert also created a Flat Stanley Project
Web site (http://www.flatstanley.com) run by the Education
Network of Ontario that gained a following among other teachers
and students, which in turn generated even more Flat Stanley
exchanges. By September, Hubert says, 2,000 classrooms around the
world will be registered with the program. And Hubert isn’t
stopping there: his future plans include getting sick kids
involved in hospital-to-hospital Flat Stanley exchanges.
© 2002 Newsweek, Inc.
Stanley in Ghana
Besides his role in encouraging school
children to read and write, Flat Stanley
also fosters greater knowledge of geography and other
cultures--"helping children gain a global perspective," as project
founder Dale Hubert puts it.
Stanley to the Stars
'Daily Show' host Jon Stewart is just
one of the celebrities who've had the privilege of meeting Flat
Stanley. Stanley has also appeared with Benjamin Bratt on 'The
Rosie O'Donnell Show' and on episodes of 'Third Watch' and 'The
West Wing.' Says Hubert: 'Actors don't feel they've made it if
some kid hasn't asked them to pose with Flat Stanley.'
Down to Earth
Stanley posing with news vendors in
New York's Greenwich Village.