Last week Hannah and I spent some time learning about a handful of children’s authors. We had a great time exploring picture books about Mark Twain, Beatrix Potter, Dr. Seuss and Laura Ingalls Wilder. I then had her write a letter to one of her favorite authors, Ms. Betty Birney, in order to tell her how much she appreciated her Humphrey book series. We enclosed this picture and sent it on its way.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that she hears back from Ms. Birney. Regardless, I think we both walked away from the week knowing a bit more about some beloved writers and appreciating their craft and their lives in new ways.
“Leadsmen on steamboats measured the depth of the river by lowering a rope into the water. They called back their measurements, or ‘marks,’ to the pilot. Twelve feet deep was ‘mark twain.’ Any shallower and the steamboat was in danger of getting stuck. Sam later started signing his stories ‘Mark Twain.’ With his fondness for stirring up trouble and for river life, it seemed like just the right name for him.”
– William Anderson, River Boy; The Story of Mark Twain
“When Beatrix was in her twenties, she painted the mushrooms she had collected in Scotland during her summer vacations. She had learned a great deal about them. She noted in her diary that rotted mushrooms might be used in cancer research. Beatrix wanted to publish a report and sell the 300 paintings of mushrooms she had completed. Sadly, her research was not taken seriously. Because she lived at a time when men considered themselves the experts in the study of science, her work was not accepted.”
-Alexandra Wallner, Beatrix Potter
“In 1932, when Laura was sixty-five, her first book Little House in the Big Woods was published. Readers loved it. They wanted to know what happened next. Laura wrote seven more books about her family. She was pleased that many people enjoyed her stories. Laura was as good at writing stories as Pa had been at telling them.”
– Alexandra Wallner, Laura Ingalls Wilder
“He was born in 1904 and lived in the best of all possible places – 74 Fairfield Street in Springfield, Massachusetts. The gray three-story house was exactly three blocks from the public library. And it was just six blocks from the zoo.”
–Kathleen Krull, The Boy on Fairfield Street