Myra here.

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We are excited to join Kidlit Frenzy’s Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year. For November-December, we are featuring Paranormal Fantasies: Dragons and Unicorns, Vampires and Elves.

Many thanks, dear Iphigene, for this lovely widget. Truly beautiful.
Many thanks, dear Iphigene, for this lovely widget. Truly beautiful.

As such, we are also sharing picture book biographies of word weavers and fantasy makers.

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Clearly, this book is a perfect fit for our current reading theme.

The book opens with Calliope and Thalia, known as the literary muses. Kathleen Krull must be favoured by these two goddesses as she has been extremely prolific when it comes to her writing, mostly nonfiction, for children.

I have a special affinity when it comes to biographies. The life story narratives of the twenty writers included in this book are fascinating, sometimes-heartbreaking, but quite-often inspiring. Krull began with Murasaki Shikibu, legendary Japanese novelist:

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and ended the book with Isaac Bashevis Singer. In between, the reader would see the usual literary greats with William Shakespeare, Hans Christian Andersen, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens…

William Shakespeare as illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt
William Shakespeare as illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt

… then on to famous female writers such as the Brontë sisters, Emily Dickinson, Zora Neale Hurston just to cite a few.

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The Brontë sisters as captured by Hewitt

Krull has this uncanny knack of sifting out the most interesting facts, the most curious anecdotes about these writers. She does not overwhelm with too much information, btu at the same time, she manages to make them human with all their foibles, strangenesses, and their unusual predilections.

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The dashing Langston Hughes – illustration by Kathryn Hewitt.

Who among these writers enjoyed eating cannibal sandwiches (made of raw beef) or barely-cooked wild ducks? Who loved furnishing dollhouses that one even had a working shower? Who were among the writers who lived so frugally, and who were so extravagant they lived in debt and poverty til the rest of their days?

This book is a testament to the writers’ passions and the little things that made them human. A truly absorbing book that is a must-read among all young readers and writers. Teachers might also want to check out the other titles in this series:

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Lives of the Writers: Comedies, Tragedies (And What the Neighbors Thought). By Kathleen Krull and Kathryn Hewitt. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1994. Book borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

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Reading Challenge Update: 296 (25)

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Nonfiction PictureBook Challenge: 65 (25)

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

4 comments on “[Nonfiction Wednesday] Lives of the Writers

  1. I love this series! There is just enough to pique curiosity to inspire my kids to further reading…and I do like the artwork. Thanks for sharing, Myra, even as you travel hither and tither!

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  2. Every time I see these books, I’m so impressed! The illustrations are wonderful, I think 🙂

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  3. Thanks for sharing these books. I’m going to have to find some of her books in our local library. They seem a perfect size biographical introduction to some famous people for our homeschool work.

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  4. Pingback: What I Will Be Reading #16 | Fill Your Bookshelf

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