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Kid Authors: True Tales of Childhood from Famous Writers (Kid Legends) Hardcover – October 10, 2017
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From School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—An eclectic mix of short profiles on a variety of authors. The individuals featured are a balance of historical and contemporary writers, all of whom mostly hail from the United States. Stabler goes beyond basic biographical information and provides witty, interesting stories to paint a vivid picture of each author's childhood and influences. These tales are highly relatable for kids and can also be an encouragement for coping with difficult situations, such as bullying. This text is ideal for developing researchers. An index allows for easy navigation and there is a short bibliography for each entry. Profiles are organized under common themes, which also allows for quick reference and browsing. Horner's bright and vibrant drawings add humor to the collection. VERDICT A fun and useful addition, especially for aspiring writers and class projects.—Paige Rowse, Needham High School, MA
“Lively glimpses of formative moments and budding talents.”—Kirkus Reviews
“A fun and useful addition, especially for aspiring writers and class projects.”—School Library Journal, Paige Rowse, Needham High School, MA
“This is an ideal gift for aspiring young writers who may need proof that even the most famous authors had to start somewhere.”—Shelf Awareness for Readers
“[Kid Authors] was full of real information, but the author made it fun and funny … I would recommend this book for all people who read books and want to know interesting information about authors, and also for people who want to be authors themselves.”—Michael, age 9
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This book delves into the real life stories of some of the most popular children's authors of all time: J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, Roald Dahl, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Mark Twain, Beverly Cleary and Jeff Kinney among others. The short bios are organized by theme: authors who faced a challenge, authors who had a family member encouraging them and authors who found stories everywhere. There are illustrations to liven the stories.
I loved reading biographies as a child. These tell some of the most interesting facts about authors so you see patterns. What inspired them? How did they face adversity? Where did their stories come from?
Some of the fascinating facts I learned from this book:
* J.K. Rowling modeled her villain Snape after a Chemistry teacher she didn't like who said Rowling was a daydreamer. Near Rowling's childhood home was a medieval castle and a forest in which she would stay until nightfall.
* Tolkien grew up in dusty South Africa where there were monkeys and large tarantulas. His nurse saved his life by sucking the poison of a tarantua bite out of his foot.
* When her sister Mary went blind, Laura Ingalls Wilder would describe the scenes around them.
* Roald Dahl was a top-secret candy taster in boarding school which probably helped to inspire his book CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY.
* Jeff Kinney who wrote DIARY OF A WIMPY KID SERIES loved comics and drawing. However, he wasn't good enough as an artist to be a professional cartoonist. That's when he got the idea to write a book about a wimpy kid and draw the kid's drawings. The publisher loved the idea!
This would be a good read-aloud to a class as the stories are entertaining. And it shows how young people honed their experiences and talents as they become adults into something which was a career for them. Adult life seems so far off when you're a child. This book shows that it's not that far away. It teaches kids that what you are doing now as a kid matters, and can influence your life later. You see that some of these authors wouldn't have been as successful without the experiences they had as a child. If they could do it, perhaps you can do it, too.
As far as age group, mature first graders could enjoy this book. I've taught preschool through eighth grade and beyond. I read GONE WITH THE WIND when I was ten and have had some of my four and five-year-old students reading Hemingway, Charlotte's Web, a biography of Lincoln so if your reader is precocious and likes authors, a five-year-old could enjoy these stories. Second through fifth graders might be the ideal range. I enjoyed the stories as an adult. It may encourage your child to start writing stories, so be ready to buy some writing materials.
I think that kids will get a kick out of this book because it shows them, first and foremost, that famous writers aren't born as either writers or famous. Most of these authors came from very humble beginnings and most had to overcome huge hurdles just to survive: Mark Twain's father died when he was very young and so Twain had to go to work to support his family and Laura Ingalls Wilder's father had a wicked wanderlust and the family had to endure so much misery (like locust infestations on their wheat farm!) just to survive. You can see in reading about their childhoods that it was, in fact, the adversity that later inspired their writing and their ability to persevere as authors (which is not easy). Because all of these writers had such ordinary roots, I think it will help give kids the confidence to know that they can do whatever they set out to do.
I think kids will also have fun connecting the themes and events that writers write about with their actual lives. Roald Dahl ("Charlie and the Chocolate Factory") was, of course, a candy addict as a kid! Mark Twain really was a river boat pilot.
When this book arrived I sat down to glance through it and ended up reading more than half of it at a first sitting. I think if I got this book as a kid I'd do the same thing. The book doesn't go into great detail, that's not it's goal, but as an introduction to the lives of these 15 authors, I think it does a good job--and their is a bibliography at the end for further reading. Who knows, maybe the kid who is putting snakes in your sewing basket will turn out to create a character like Tom Sawyer one day.
Included are: J.R.R Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, Edgar Allan Poe, Sherman Alexie, Lewis Carroll, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Zora Neale Hurston, Mark Twain, Langston Hughes, Jules Verne, Roald Dahl, Stan Lee, Beverly Cleary, Lucy Maud Montgomery, and Jeff Kinney. There are also several more included in the "Fun Facts" section, but most of those just get a sentence or two about them.
In the back, there's a list of biographies and autobiographies about the authors if the reader desires to learn more about them. There are also full color illustrations throughout the book, so that adds to the appeal. This is a fun little book to pass the time with.
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