Ten writers for children. All with something to say.

3/24/10

We'll miss you, Sid


Last week I learned the sad news that children's author, screenwriter, and magician, Sid Fleischman passed away at his home in California. He was 90 years old.

My first encounter with Sid's work was in the late 1960's when I stumbled across MR. MYSTERIOUS AND COMPANY when I was in elementary school. It's the tale of family traveling by covered wagon to California in 1884, performing magic shows at the small towns they visit along the way. It was funny, filled with adventure, and gave glimpses into the workings of magicians. I loved it! Scenes from that book have remained vivid in my memory for forty years.

In 1987, Sid Fleischman won the Newbery medal for THE WHIPPING BOY. By now I was an elementary school teacher myself, and found this book to be a fast-paced, fun read-aloud to share with my class.

Jump ahead almost twenty more years. Now it's 2005. I'm sitting at the front table at the Los Angeles SCBWI conference. I'm about to receive the SCBWI Humor Award for my first novel. And the namesake of the award, as well as the presenter, is none other than Sid Fleischman himself. Receiving this award from Sid's hands was one of the highlights of my career.

Sid was a prolific writer with a list of more than 50 books, including a biography of Charlie Chaplin which will be published this summer. But he was more than a great writer. He was warm and friendly and gracious, and encouraging to newly and not-yet-published writers. He was an entertaining speaker who had excellent writing advice. He was a true gentleman, and I feel very fortunate for my encounters with him, both in person, and through his books.

If you haven't read one of his books recently, treat yourself and check one out. Thanks for the rollicking tales you have left us, Sid, and thanks for inspiring so many writers.

7 comments:

Edie said...

David,

What a lovely and well deserved tribute to Sid Fleischman! I heard that he had sold another picture book just in the last weeks of his life.

Mark said...

Mr. Fleischman has always been one of my favorite authors, and I share your sentiments on his writing, David. A great tribute to a great writer.

Christy said...

I recently designed Sir Charlie for Greenwillow, and can tell you all that it's a fascinating account of Charlie Chaplin. I am sad he won't see it published.

Lauren said...

Thanks for this David-- I never had the privilege of meeting Sid, but the stories I have heard and read from everyone attests to a wonderful, warm, and brilliant man. I think I will read some of his books in his honor!

Stephanie said...

How wonderful you were able to meet him. He definitely will be missed.

onepotatoten said...

Such an icon! Icons don't die.

Lisa Yee said...

David, Sid was a big fan of yours as well. He loved ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY NOT.