Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Like Father, Like Son: the Prolific Fleischmans

Are children influenced by their parents?  Yes!  And parents are influenced by their children!  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that prolific author Paul Fleischman, whose birthday is today, is the son of another prolific writer:  Sid Fleischman.  Sid said his children led him into his career writing children's books (more here).  And Paul says growing up hearing his father read aloud chapters of the books as they were being written was a huge part of his education.

Another thing I discovered is that this father and son are the only parent and child to win Newbery awards - Sid for a book our family thoroughly enjoyed, The Whipping Boy in 1987; Paul for Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices, in 1989.

Sid Fleischman (who died in 2010) has quite an interesting biography, which you can read here. The list of books this author has written is astounding!  Another favorite of ours is By The Great Horn Spoon, a comic work of historical fiction about the California Gold Rush.

"Humor is the oxygen of children's literature. There's a lot of competition for children's time, but even kids who hate to read want to read a funny book." 
- Sid Fleischman
Sid Fleischman - Newbery Award Author, Magician,
Screenwriter, Playwright, Lyricist, & etc. [source]
As a children's book author, Sid Fleischman felt a special obligation to his readers. "The books we enjoy as children stay with us forever -- they have a special impact. Paragraph after paragraph and page after page, the author must deliver his or her best work." With almost 60 titles to his credit, some of which have been turned into motion pictures, Sid Fleischman's books made a special impact.

Paul Fleischman is just as talented and dedicated as his father was, with an amazing list of works - including poetry, YA fiction, picture books, plays, and non-fiction.  I've read his YA fiction book, The Borning Room, and I have to say, he has certainly got a poetic rhythm in his words and writing.

Paul Fleischman [source]

"We grew up knowing that words felt good in the ears and on the tongue, that they were as much fun to play with as toys." 
-Paul Fleischman

One early project the Fleischman family shared was a small, old-fashioned, long-before-there-were-computers home hand printing press. Paul and his sisters made stationary, business cards, and "began learning a language no one else on our block spoke".

The family had a printing press because Sid Fleischman was working on a book about a traveling printer, and parts of the book were absorbed into the household.

Paul recounts: "I had an idyllic childhood ten blocks from the Pacific in Santa Monica, California. My two sisters and I had a big house to roam, one that included a telescope, shortwave radio, and a door that opened onto a wall. We also had a hand printing press and all learned to set type and to read backwards, since that's the way type is arranged in the composing stick..."  [source]

Sounds like Paul was inspired by a lot of JOYFUL NOISE in his family home growing up!


  1. I absolutely love Syd Fleischman's autobiography, The Abracadabra Kid: A Writer's Life. Great fun—one of my favorite autobiographies, especially of a writer.

    1. It's the first book he wrote - to explain his vocation to his kids, right? I read about it (but haven't read it) - sounds fascinating. Going on my list of "must reads"! :)