From School Library Journal
Grade 5 Up—The life stories of six authors are told, giving readers insight into the childhood experiences that shaped their work. From Lucy Maud Montgomery's loss of her mother and estrangement from her father in the late 1800s to Christopher Paul Curtis growing up in a strong family surrounded by racism in the 1960s, Cotter shows how the individuals' achievements, losses, tragic situations, and experiences led to the creation of many well-loved novels. C. S. Lewis, E. B. White, Madeline L'Engle, and Philip Pullman all had experiences that led them to create fantastic characters and stories. These writers were inspired by other great authors, such as Hans Christian Andersen and Louisa May Alcott, whose stories are interspersed throughout the book. Younger readers will find the presentation of the book appealing, with many colorful photographs and illustrations; however, more mature readers will gain the most enjoyment as they discover the backgrounds and inspirations of some of their favorite writers. A page of notes indicates the sources of direct quotes. An excellent resource for reports and pleasure reading.—Denise Moore, O'Gorman Junior High School, Sioux Falls, SD
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As a boy, E. B. White felt small and unprotected in a huge, terrifying world. C. S. Lewis and Madeleine L’Engle both wrote letters home begging to be released from boarding schools they hated. Lucy Maud Montgomery struggled with a mean stepmother. Phillip Pullman moved often as a child through many countries and schools. Christopher Paul Curtis grew up in a strong, loving family, but he experienced racial prejudice. Written in a chatty, open style and illustrated with occasional photos and prints, this collective biography introduces a selection of well-known writers’ lives and their famous books. Readers may skip over the fictionalized vignettes that appear at the start of each chapter. Much more interesting are the passages about how the writers transformed their childhood struggles into great stories. Occasional notes also highlight the connections between some authors, while a bibliography of each author’s books, an additional bibliography of recommended resources about the authors, and source notes for direct quotes complete this accessible, thought-provoking, and fun-to-read volume. Grades 4-8. --Hazel Rochman