Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


End of publishing?

Remember the records? Some people still have them and play them in their hi-fi. Remember the tapes? I still have many of mine and I play them in my 1997 car tape player. Now we have CDs. And the records are coming back!

The first program I saw on TV was in black and white. We put a plastic sheet on the screen that had green at the bottom to show the green grass, pink in the middle to show faces, and blue at the top to show the sky. After that, technology has advanced faster than I have grown older. How, I wonder, did we live without computers and cell phones? They are so convenient!

We won't be able to stop this trend, and we should embrace it. How great it is that books have been on tape and CDs! Why not online? That is, as long as it is legal. (I, along everyone else, am a victim of Goggle.) I don't like reading a story online. If online, I prefer to print it, then read it. But young people have been raised with computers. Some of my students compose better stories in the computer than by hand (as you know my first drafts are always done by hand.) Some readers may prefer stories online. As long as we have readers, let's give them all formats.

I doubt books will disappear. Besides, I have so much faith in the youth. Here is a poem that says it better than I can. Please watch it until it ends. It will surprise you and it will warm your heart.



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.