Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Tribute to Sid Fleischman

The Magic of Sid Fleischman
1920 - 2010

Sid Fleischman did not grow up wanting to be an award winning author. He wanted to be a magician. After high school, he followed his dream and traveled the country as a professional magician in vaudeville, a variety show. At 19, he published a handbook of magic tricks that is still in print.

After serving in the U. S. Naval Reserve during World War II, he completed college and worked as a reporter. It was here that his love of writing stories began. He worked at the newspaper until it folded and then turned to writing suspense novels for adults. Some of his books became movies and he was hired to write the screenplays.

Sid credits his children with launching his writing for young people. His screenwriting kept him home where his kids wondered what he did for a living..."I decided to clear up the mystery and wrote a book just for them." His first children's book, Mr. Mysterious and Company, was a family affair with his children critiquing each chapter. And of course it was about magic!

However, the book that made Sid Fleischman famous was not about magic and took him almost ten years to conjure up. The Whipping Boy, a story about a pauper taking a whipping every time the prince misbehaved, won the Newbery Medal in 1987.

Sid passed his writing brilliance down to his son, Paul, who received the Newbery Medal in 1989 for Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices. To date, they are the only father and son winners in Newbery history.

Over the next 20 years, Sid Fleischman would add more awards and write more than 50 works of fiction, tall tales, picture books, and biographies. He even wrote his autobiography, The Abracadabra Kid.

Sid Fleischman had a wonderful sense of humor and used it extensively throughout his books. He was so noted for this humor that The Sid Fleischman Award was created by The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators to honor not only him, but future writers who exemplify, "...excellence of writing in the genre of humor."

On March 17th, 2010, Sid Fleischman, children's writer extraordinaire, performed his final disappearing act. There was only one Sid Fleischman and the world of children's literature will miss him terribly. Our only consolation is that his wit and imagination live on in the magic of his books.