Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Some of the entries in this memorable anthology are hauntingly sad and several are sharply witty; every single one is expertly crafted and engrossing. In response to Ehrlich's request for an autobiographical story, 10 accomplished children's authors have contributed original pieces that underscore both the diversity and timelessness of youth and adolescence. Sibling rapports and rivalries, feeling alone, and the fervent quest for parental approval and peer acceptance are common threads here. Mary Pope Osborne describes her uncommon attachment to a rubber ball, a gift from her father on the eve of his departure for post-war Korea. Avi humorously recounts his attempt to save face during a rain-drenched camping trip with two friends. In two of the collection's hardest-hitting tales, Susan Cooper shows how World War II invades the already beleaguered life of a British schoolgirl; and Francesca Lia Block describes a sensitive girl coping with her mother's desertion. Each contributor follows up his or her story with a brief but enlightening commentary. Fans of all ages will savor these perceptively chosen, affectingly disclosed episodes from the lives of favorite writers. Ages 9-14. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Mary Sue Preissner
Ten young adult authors have contributed a short story of their recollections of growing up. Each story is preceded by a photograph of the author as a child, and each ends with a personal note from the author explaining why he or she has chosen this particular memory. Katherine Paterson reveals the reason she never ran away from home. Despair with Mary Pope Osborne over the loss of All-Ball and her family's upcoming move. All readers will delight in city boy Avi's account of a camping trip. A wonderful addition to your story collection!
The authors contributing stories to this volume will be recognizable to librarians serving teens: they include E.L. Konigsburg, Karen Hesse, Joseph Bruchac, Paul Fleischman, Jane Yolen, and Norma Fox Mazer. Readers picking up this volume will feel like they have come away knowing a little bit more about these authors after reading their stories. According to editor Amy Ehrlich, "By exploring the past with words they (authors) can give form and meaning to their own experiences." Each tale starts with a real-life incident and then is embellished a little or a lot, depending on the author's preference. The resulting selections run the gamut from humorous to tragic and awe-inspiring. The stories tackle universal experiences such as teenage moodiness, family relationships, peer pressure, and exploration of the natural world. Each selection ends with notes from the author about the story, and the book concludes with mini-biographies of the authors featured. Each story is accompanied by a picture of the author as an adolescent. Of special note are Paul Fleischman's story, "Interview With A Shrimp"; Karen Hesse's "Waiting For Midnight"; and Kyoko Mori's dramatic "Learning To Swim." Teens will probably not pick up this title on their own unless they are drawn to the short story genre, but with a little book talking it will reach an audience. Recommended for public and school libraries. KLIATT Codes: JSA—Recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1999, Candlewick, 188p. illus.,
School Library Journal
Gr 5 UpEhrlich asked 10 children's book authors to contribute a story based on their childhoods. The result is a fascinating glimpse into a variety of times, places, plots, and people. Some of the selections are funny, some sad, some a mixture, but they all express feelings and describe situations that young people can identify withwhether it is Laurence Yep's discovery that his father really loved him for himself or Walter Dean Myers's friends trying to get even with the adults who spoiled their fun, or Mary Pope Osborne's revelation of how she held on to a deflated rubber ball, a gift from her soldier father, until he returned safely from the war in Korea. Each story is followed by a note from the author that explains to what degree the incidents are true and why the piece was submitted. The writing is of such high caliber that all the stories sound true and readers are sure to believe that the incidences described really happened. It is a disappointment then, to learn that a particular story, or part of it, is fiction. A picture of the author as a child precedes each entry. The selections are so varied and so well written that children will find at least one they would enjoy reading. Librarians will have to encourage their students not to judge this book by its dull cover, but to open it so they can be entertained by 10 master storytellers.Nancy P. Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SC
Part memoir, part fiction, these stories capture the childhood experiences of 10 well-known writers for young people. Rooted in particulars of many times and places, they reach out to the universals of leaving home and finding out who you are. In Avi's hilarious farce about his first camp-out, he remembers the struggle to be tough and how rivalry is part of friendship. Several stories are about loneliness and heartbreak, feeling outside, in your family and on the street. Nicholasa Mohr remembers trying to find her own way between the Catholicism of her mother and the atheism of her father. Reeve Lindbergh captures the moment when a child suddenly sees a parent as an individual, separate from herself. During the London blitz, Susan Cooper's misery is less from the bombs than from a school-yard bully. The spacious book design includes a childhood photo as frontispiece to each story, and a brief afterword by each writer. Teachers could read these stories aloud to open up kids to their own personal writing. As Ehrlich says in her fine introduction, the words connect us.
From ten prominent writers, short storiestender, funny, and heartbreakingthat vividly evoke the state of childhood, with all its hopes, dreams, fears, and joys.
Ehrlich (Parents in the Pigpen, Pigs in the Tub, 1993, etc.) bases this collection of original pieces on an interesting conceit: She asked the authors (Avi, Francesca Lia Block, Susan Cooper, James Howe, Reeve Lindbergh, Nicholasa Mohr, Walter Dean Myers, Mary Pope Osborne, Katherine Paterson, Laurence Yep) to tell a "story of when you were little" that didn't need to be "literally true in every detail." The responses are as varied as the authors' books. Lindbergh's "Flying" tells of flights with her famous father; Avi's "Scout's Honor" is a hilarious tale of three Boy Scouts in 1946 Brooklyn who camp out behind a tollbooth. Osborne's "All-Ball" offers touching glimpses of a lonely girl, as does Block's "Blue." Myers's period piece is even funnier than its title"Reverend Abbott and Those Bloodshot Eyes"while Howe's tale of a boy whose only friend is a starving kitten brings tears. The volume includes photos of the authors and their notes about the stories, as well as brief biographies. With the surprising exception of Paterson's weak contribution, this is an excellent anthology.