Lives of the Writers: Comedies, Tragedies (and What the Neighbors Thought)

Overview

Shakespeare wrote with a feather quill and ink; Emily Dickinson wrote with a fountain pen; Isaac Bashevis Singer wrote on a Yiddish typewriter. But what did such writers do when they weren't writing? What did Jane Austen eat for breakfast? What could make Mark Twain throw his shirts out the window? Why would Zora Neale Hurston punch a fellow elevator passenger? Lives of the Writers tells all that and more.

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Overview

Shakespeare wrote with a feather quill and ink; Emily Dickinson wrote with a fountain pen; Isaac Bashevis Singer wrote on a Yiddish typewriter. But what did such writers do when they weren't writing? What did Jane Austen eat for breakfast? What could make Mark Twain throw his shirts out the window? Why would Zora Neale Hurston punch a fellow elevator passenger? Lives of the Writers tells all that and more.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
* “There’s enough substance here for a quick report or to enliven a longer one. . . . An irresistible package.”—School Library Journal, starred review

“The stories Krull tells will be enough to whet readers’ appetites for more biography and for the writers’ actual works.”—Booklist

 

"This compendium of brief biographies of literary luminaries is as much fun as a tete-a-tete with a gossipy friend. Krull knows exactly how to captivate her audience; she goes right for the juicy stuff, adding to historical fact the kind of chatty incidentals and amusing anecdotes that put flesh and blood on dry literary bones. . . .These exuberant thumbnail sketches are ably matched by Hewitt’s sophisticated caricatures, which will delight sharp-eyed readers with their many visual references to particulars and oddities about each of the subjects. A must-have for the reference shelf.”—Publishers Weekly

“Another colorful, enthralling excursion into our cultural heritage.”—Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As seductive as Krull and Hewitt's Lives of the Musicians, this compendium of brief biographies of literary luminaries is as much fun as a tte--tte with a gossipy friend. Krull knows exactly how to captivate her audience; she goes right for the juicy stuff, adding to historical fact the kind of chatty incidentals and amusing anecdotes that put flesh and blood on dry literary bones. Hans Christian Andersen, for example, ``was known to hug trees,'' and Edgar Allan Poe, at 27, married his 13-year-old cousin. Emily Dickinson and Mark Twain shared an eccentricity-they both dressed solely in white. Jane Austen ate chocolate for breakfast, and Jack London liked to pose outrageous challenges to his houseguests-swallowing live goldfish, perhaps, or pushing peanuts up their noses. These exuberant thumbnail sketches are ably matched by Hewitt's sophisticated caricatures, which will delight sharp-eyed readers with their many visual references to particulars and oddities about each of the subjects. A must-have for the reference shelf. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Dr. Judy Rowen
This volume profiles 20 authors whose lives we usually only glimpse through the works they left behind. Their foibles and eccentricities are detailed in short biographies, proving that great minds arise from unusual as well as humble circumstances. For instance, we learn who insisted on wearing only white clothing (Emily Dickinson and Mark Twain), and that Emily Bronte was so small her coffin only measured 16 inches across. The authors are arranged in chronological order, beginning with Murasaki Shikibu (The Tale of the Genji) and ending with Isaac Bashevis Singer. Each segment begins with a lovingly crafted caricature of the author, with smaller illustrations sprinkled throughout the text.
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Krull tells about writers as intriguingly as she revealed The Lives of the Musicians. Now kids can understand the inner and outer worlds of sixteen writers spanning the centuries from Murasaki Shikibu who wrote and continually shocked the Japanese court during the first century to Isaac Bashevis Singer who recreated the stories he learned growing up in the Jewish ghetto of Warsaw. The short biographies are as full of fact and fun and are accompanied by the telling caricatures drawn by Kathryn Hewitt.
School Library Journal
Gr 4 Up-Employing the lively format that worked so well in Lives of the Musicians (Harcourt, 1993), Krull and Hewitt present the brief histories of 20 classic writers-warts and all. Most are novelists and poets whose names, and possibly whose works, will be familiar to the intended audience. A wide variety of cultures and a generous proportion of women are represented. Krull organizes her biographical sketches chronologically, moving from Japan (Murasaki Shikibu, author of Tale of the Genji) through the centuries with Shakespeare, Cervantes, the Bronts, Twain, Poe, Zora Neale Hurston, and ending with Isaac Bashevis Singer. The glimpses she provides are respectful of their times and influences without being dull. The dry essentials are dealt with in the headings of each chapter. The rest is the juicy stuff-what the writers ate, the pets they kept, what they wore (with a healthy interest in underwear), their writing habits, eccentricities and scandals, and what people thought of them. Brief sections entitled ``Bookmarks'' highlight a few of their works. A one-page glossary of literary terms, a short index, and a child-focused bibliography complete the book. Hewitt maintains a light touch in her full-page caricatures by balancing fully realized facial portraits on small bodies surrounded by representative objects. The handsomely mounted text is larded with small pictorial reminders of the content. There's enough substance here for a quick report or to enliven a longer one. Let's hope this team continues through all the arts. An irresistible package.-Sally Margolis, Deerfield Public Library, IL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780544252882
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 7/1/2014
  • Series: Lives of... Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 343,522
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Kathleen Krull has written much innovative nonfiction for young people, including all of the books in the Lives of . . . series, and has made a chatty, accessible approach to biography her hallmark. She lives in San Diego, California. Visit her website at www.kathleenkrull.com .

Kathryn Hewitt's caricatures of famous figures led kids to dub the Lives of . . . series the "Big Head" books. She has illustrated many books for young readers, some of which she also wrote. She lives in Santa Monica, California. Visit her website at www.kathrynhewitt.com .

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