Our Story Begins by Elissa Brent Weissman
About the book:~
Compiled by award-winning author Elissa Brent Weissman, OUR STORY BEGINS presents some of today’s foremost children’s authors and illustrators such as Marla Frazee, Alex Gino, Gail Carson Levine, Gordon Korman, and R. J. Palacio. The authors reveal their quirky, smart, vulnerable, youthful selves through their early writings and drawings, amazing us with their nascent talent and showing us the storytellers they would someday become, inspiring kids everywhere.
Everyone’s story begins somewhere…
*For Linda Sue Park, it was a trip to the ocean, a brand-new typewriter, and a little creative license.
*For Jarrett J. Krosoczka, it was a third grade writing assignment that ignited a creative fire in a kid who liked to draw.
*For Kwame Alexander, it was a loving poem composed for Mother’s Day—and perfected through draft after discarded draft.
*For others, it was a teacher, a parent, a beloved book, a word of encouragement. It was trying, and failing, and trying again. It was a love of words, and pictures, and stories.
With its combination of short essays written specifically for this anthology, childhood photos, and actual work produced by the contributors as kids, there’s nothing quite like it out there. This collection contains a wonderfully wide variety of contributors, of all different backgrounds, experiences, races, ages, voices, styles, bodies of work, and more.OUR STORY BEGINS is a must-have for any kid with creative impulses…so really, any kid!
The Book That Made Me A Writer:~
I’m often asked what made me want to become a children’s author, and my answer is always the same: The books I read as a kid.
For me, a good book does more than just capture my imagination; it makes me want to write something myself. This has been true for as long as I can remember, and it was especially true when I was in elementary school. It was really the combined effect of all the books I read—many of them again and again and again—that turned me into a writer, but if I had to point to one book that had the biggest influence, it would be Gordon Korman’s This Can’t Be Happening at Macdonald Hall.
It wasn’t the content of this book that inspired me, though it does contain pretty much everything I loved as a kid and continue to love today (great characters, smart humor, a school setting). The reason this book was so influential was its backstory. Gordon Korman wrote This Can’t Be Happening at Macdonald Hall when he was in seventh grade. It was published when he was just thirteen years old. For a ten-year-old aspiring author like myself, that story was everything. It was proof that a kid could write a book and see it, printed and bound, on the shelves of the library. It was my introduction to a generous role model. (Gordon Korman allowed me to interview him over the phone, and he invited me to a Books for Kids Foundation breakfast!) It was also a challenge: Don’t just try to be like Gordon Korman, try to beat Gordon Korman. I became determined to be a published author before my bat mitzvah.
In fifth grade, I wrote a book called The Ryland Revolt about a pair of twins who play tricks on their substitute teacher. In sixth grade, I sent my book off to ten New York publishing houses, confident that I’d see my words in print by the time I started junior high. (Take that, Gordon Korman.)
Well, it didn’t happen. Not one publisher wanted to publish my book. Not one even wanted to read beyond chapter 3. I kept a handwritten list of my submissions on a cork board in my bedroom, and I remember crossing them off one by one until all my dreams were dashed.
But only for then. Because This Can’t Be Happening at Macdonald Hall and all the other books I read and loved continued to work their magic on me. They sucked me in, made me laugh, and sent me searching for a pencil. My dream only got stronger. And one day, about 15 years later, it came true.
When I go into schools as an author, I tell kids the story of ten-year-old Elissa trying to emulate and beat Gordon Korman. I tell them that it didn’t happen right away, and that that’s okay. I also tell them that I no longer need to beat other authors at anything. I’m happy enough knowing that with patience and persistence, I achieved my big goal. And perhaps my story will inspire one of them, one day, to achieve theirs. I hope they beat me by a mile.
ABOUT ELISSA BRENT WEISSMAN: ~