What, some might say, children’s writers live unusual lives? Perhaps, just perhaps only an unusual life can create a story unusual to the adult mind, but one that makes perfect sense to a child’s. Many children’s writers have lived life differently, blazed trails, skipped along unbeaten paths…Okay, I’ll stop at the cliches, for now, because children’s writers are often as UN-cliche as they get.
Here’s a short, and maybe even quirky list of easy links and resources that detail the unusual lives of children’s writers:
MISS POTTER. This movie about children’s writer and illustrator Beatrix Potter kept my head nodding in agreement. Of course Beatrix Potter stayed single for so long. Of course she focused on her artwork, and believed in it, had a vision for the kind of books for children she wanted to write. It just seems like Beatrix Potter simply did what she had to do, regardless of the status quo, in order to live her most authentic life possible. As a result of the uncommon focus of Beatrix Potter remaining true to herself in her day and age, we have endearing and enduring tales of Peter Rabbit and his friends. Beatrix Potter transformed children’s books, as the movie suggests. On the other hand, is Miss Potter the most dynamic and well-made movie I have ever watched? Well not really, but it touched my heart in such a way that it remains on my personal favorite list of top 20 films ever.
Dorothy Kunhardt of Pat the Bunny, circa 1940! I found this gem of a New York Times article (1990) while reviewing the references of different Wikipedia entries! What a great surprise to find it there, of all places. What a warm, articulate and respectful tribute to the New York Times author’s mother, Dorothy Kunhardt. The New York Times article also reinforces the relieving truth to some–Successful children’s writers don’t have to be perfect homemakers! Phew.
Shel Silverstein. The Giving Tree, let alone all his books of poetry have touched my life and lives of so many. Yet, the bios out there on the internet and articles–what a contrast. I didn’t know much about Shel Silverstein, his successful employment by Playboy magazine, that he wrote the popular song “A Boy Named Sue”, and became a children’s author at the prompting of the wildly successful and influential editor, Ursula Nordstrom.
Goodnight Moon–A 50th Anniversary Retrospective by Leonard S. Marcus. If you don’t understand the appeal of Goodnight Moon, you can read a great post on this blog to commiserate. If, however, you want to read an adult account of the background of the author, as well as some about the illustrator, I found this great retrospective at my library. If you can’t find Goodnight Moon–A 50th Anniversary Retrospective at your local library, your library can probably order it for you. I’ve also had good experiences buying from amazon.com’s used and new book sales; often times independent and bookstores that sell second-hand books are some of the used book sellers.
Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom. I ran across this surprising book (imagine anyone wanting your emails as a book!) several years ago while reading my way through a children’s section at the Minneapolis Central Library.This book is a great compilation of correspondence between a prolific children’s book editor and great children’s authors, like E.B. White, Crockett Johnson, Maurice Sendak and others. As a bonus, I also found a warm New York Times article summarizing her life here.
So there you go, a list of links and references to sources that demonstrate the unusual and often quirky lives of children’s authors. Do you have any quirky resources on the lives of children’s authors? Please share! A link to a post in your own blog or share your finds.