Monday, August 14, 2017


I’ve been eagerly waiting since February, when I first read in Publishers Weekly about OUR STORY BEGINS (Atheneum) and its most appropriate July 4, 2017 release, to share this book with our TeachingAuthors readers.

Today’s the day, with thanks to Bobbi and JoAnn who opened our TeachingAuthors series about our Story Beginnings in appreciation of all this inspiring book offers.

The book’s subtitle understandably drew me in:  Your Favorite Authors and Illustrators Share Fun, Inspiring, And Occasionally Ridiculous Things They Wrote And Drew As Kids.
The book’s dedication by the collection’s editor, the award-winning children’s book author Elissa Brent Weissman, grabbed my heart: “To every kid with a story inside, and to all the grown-ups who give them a pencil and encourage them to begin.”
Twenty-six well-known authors and illustrators return to their childhoods to answer the questions hurled at them during School Visits.

Did you always want to write?
How old were you when you drew your first picture?
Was your teacher the one who told you you’d be famous?

Kwame Alexander.  Kathi Appelt, Marla Frazee, Gordon Korman, Thanhha Lai, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Linda Sue Park - just to mention a few, let their readers know: we were kids once, too, determined to tell our stories!
They share school photos, family album favorites, hand-written poems, typed chapter pages, sketches, diagrams, journal entries, marked-up essays, teacher responses, plus parent reactions, letters and momentos.

Each creator affirms every Young Writer and Illustrator via the SHOW-AND-TELL details of his or her first creative efforts.
And by celebrating the beginnings of what became a successful career, each storyteller celebrates the beginnings of every Young Writer and Illustrator - as well as -those Not-So-Much.

Dan Santat opens the collection by sharing his five-year-old self’s awe of Norman Rockwell.
R.J. Palacio elaborates on the horse images that filled her notebook’s pages.
Marla Frazee graciously offers up the words and pictures of her very first chapter book about June and John.
There’s Linda Sue Park's serious limerick, “Fog By The Ocean.”
And Gail Carson Levine’s Scribble Scrabble Club Adventurous Girls chapter.
And Tim Federle’s “Farewell Island Lake” Camp Diary written when he was 12.
Ashely Bryan, who began his career copying comics and art from magazines, closes the collection with his high school drawings and love.

Copyright considerations prevent me from reproducing the delicious original words and arts that marked the starts of the collection’s twenty-six contributors.
click here to see the trailer; click here to see photos and images for which the LA Times did receive permission.

The book’s last page begins with a post-it note:
The next story is yours.  How will it begin?
The editor provides a solid list of tips gleaned from the collection, from READ, READ, READ to DRAW, DRAW, DRAW to LISTEN TO STORIES to DAYDREAM, DOODLE AND LET YOUR IMAGINATION RUN WILD.
There’s even a dedicated space where the reader can place his photo.

ALL writers and illustrators start out on the same page, so to speak – i.e. determined to tell their stories.

The bounty of inspiration, insights and encouragement, not to mention heart and hope, makes OUR STORY BEGINS must-reading, especially for determined Young Writers.

Here’s to our stories and their beginnings!

Esther Hershenhorn

Please keep your story beginnings coming as each of my fellow bloggers shares hers.


April Halprin Wayland said...

Sounds DELICIOUS, Esther ~ thanks for this enthusiastic review

Carmela Martino said...

Love the trailer and can't wait to read the book. Thanks!

Bobbi Miller said...

What a wonderful, wonderful collection! Can't wait to read this book!!!