Literary/Classics

Beverly Cleary: The Girl from Yamhill

Beverly thought she had the greatest life. Things were exciting on the family farm for a little girl, and her mom and dad were working too hard to keep their dark-haired daughter from having fun. On glorious days filled with sunshine, she helped bring the lazy cows in from the pasture, picked armfuls of wild flowers, and learned the names of the trees and the birds from her father as they rode in the wagon across the field to gather firewood.

Eleanor Estes: A Childhood Shared

Eleanor Ruth Rosenfeld (Estes) loved to tell stories to children. She began by working as a children's assistant in her hometown library, but when she became sick with tuberculosis, she spent the quiet days of her recovery writing down her childhood memories as a series of stories for young readers.

In The Moffats, a terrific family, growing up during tough times in Cranbury, Connecticut in the 1910s, face calamity when the landlord puts a "For Sale" sign on their beloved yellow house. Janey's widowed mother works as a seamstress every day to put food on the table, coal in the grate, and clothes on their backs, but there isn't enough money left to buy a home. Week after week, month after month, the kids--fifteen-year-old Sylvie, twelve-year-old Joey, nine-year-old Janey, and five-year-old Rufus--expect the worst: that someone will buy their house, and then what will happen?

Margret Rey and Curious George

Margret Rey and her husband, H.A. Rey, had no children themselves, but thousands of kids across the world have made friends with their little monkey, Curious George.

Margret was born in Hamburg, Germany, in May of 1906. She studied art at the famous Bauhaus School and elsewhere before moving to Brazil in 1935. Margret married a fellow German artist, Hans Augusto (H. A.) Rey, and together they started the first advertising agency in Rio de Janeiro. They came back to Paris during some of its cruelest days, just before the Nazi occupation. Somehow, funny and delightful Curious George was created during those difficult times.

C.S. Lewis and the Land of Narnia

C. S. Lewis spent his first years at the family home, called Little Lea, in Belfast, Ireland. He was never really called C. S. or even Clive (C. S. stands for Clive Staples). This young man wanted to be called Jack. Like another college professor (Indiana Jones), Jack nicknamed himself after his beloved dog, Jacksie, who died when the author was quite young. His friends called him "Plain Jack Lewis," and it suited him. He was not especially handsome, but he was kind and bluff and came to have many friends.

Madeleine L'Engle: Once Upon a Lifetime

She was born Madeleine Camp in grand old New York City on November 29, 1918. Young Madeleine took her meals on a tray in her room with her beloved Nanny, in the English fashion. Often at night, her father and mother would go out to the theatre. Other times, the theatre and literary world would come to them. Madeleine's mother, a Southern belle, played the grand piano wonderfully, and the family apartment would be filled with music and friends.

The Merry Days of Howard Pyle, (1853 - 1911)

He drew pirates and knights, fair ladies and fairy tales. His illustrated books on Robin Hood and King Arthur are still treasured by children today.

At the Start

Howard Pyle grew up in Wilmington, Delaware surrounded by family and friends. His mother read to him all sorts of marvelous stories, and they had illustrations from the magazines pinned to the walls of their home.

Mary Mapes Dodge: Crafter of the Silver Skates and Godmother of Children's Literature

The author of Hans Brinker, a famous book about poor children who lived in Holland, grew up rather rich and never visited Europe. She was a New York City girl, born on January 26, 1831, to a well-off family who helped her on the way to becoming a beloved children's writer and magazine editor. This writer had an unusual and privileged background. Miss Mary Mapes did not go to school with everyone else. She was taught at home by tutors and governesses. There she studied French, Latin, music, drawing, and literature. Her family's circle of friends included some very intelligent people. Horace Greeley, a hugely important newspaper publisher, and the famous poet-journalist William Cullen Bryant were often hosted at the Mapes home.

Norton Juster: Phantom Toll Booth Designer

Milo was bored. So very bored by school, by books, and by toys that when he found a package marked "One Genuine Turnpike Tollbooth" he figured he couldn't possibly get any more bored by looking at it. So he opened it, set it up, climbed into his electric car and sped off for adventures in Dictionopolis, the land of words, and Digitopolis, the land of numbers. Accompanied by the faithful watchdog Tock, he faces the raucous Dischord & Dynne, the Terrible Trivium, and many other odd and wonderful creatures.

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm: Brothers and Best Friends

Without Jacob and Wilhelm’s efforts to gather folk tales from their German homeland and making them popular worldwide, it’s unlikely we’d know Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, or Snow White.

Meant to Be Read Aloud

"In a poem, the secrets of the poem give it its tension and gift of emerging sense and form, so that it’s not always the flowering in the poem and the specific images that make it memorable, but the tensions and physicality, the rhythms, the underlying song.

The high spots of a poem could be said to correspond with the bloom in the garden. But you need the compositional entity in order to convey the weight and force of the poem’s motion, of its emerging meaning.