This week I've been fortunate to review books by two different publishers that give kids a glimpse into the lives of their favorite authors.
The Meet the Author series, from Richard C. Owen Publishers, is a series of autobiographies by well-known authors, written for elementary-level children. Each author describes his or her life, childhood, and writing, giving children an intimate portrait of the person behind the books they love. The books are written in a friendly and accessible style that draws kids in and gets them involved in the lives of the authors. Photographs are liberally sprinkled throughout the books, including pictures of the authors as adults and as children, their homes and families, their writing space, sample manuscript pages, and their published books. These books are the next best thing to having an author school visit, and would make a great addition to an elementary school library. Currently there are 32 books in the series, each profiling a different author. Authors include Eric A. Kimmel, Laura Numeroff, Cynthia Rylant, Jane Yolen, Joseph Bruchac, Mike Thaler, and many more.
Middle-grade and young adult readers can turn to The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy to learn more about favorite fantasy authors. Leonard S. Marcus interviewed thirteen fantasy authors for this book; each interview is introduced with a short profile and accompanied by photographs of the authors as adults and as children, as well samples of their work.
This is one of the most interesting and inspirational books that I've read in a long time. Through the interviews and profiles, Marcus' masterfully brings out the best in each author, providing a fascinating look at some of the leading authors in the fantasy genre. Find out how Lloyd Alexander's experiences in the military during World War II influenced his writing, or how Diana Wynne Jones kept Tolkien from finishing The Lord of the Rings! It's inspiring to read about how authors are regular people who faced the same kinds of problems in childhood as everyone else: problems in school, problems with parents, problems with other kids. One even had dyslexia. Taken together it presents a powerful and inspirational message that anyone can be a writer, that anyone can overcome their personal obstacles to achieve their dreams. Each author also gives advice for young, aspiring writers.
The authors interviewed in this book are: Lloyd Alexander, Franny Billingsley, Susan Cooper, Nancy Farmer, Brian Jacques, Diana Wynne Jones, Ursula K. Le Guin, Madeleine L’Engle, Garth Nix, Tamora Pierce, Terry Pratchett, Philip Pullman, and Jane Yolen. The Wand in the Word is published by Candlewick Press, one of my favorite publishers.
Wands and Worlds Small Press Month Blogfest