• When her children were old enough to go to school, Eve Bunting started to write books in a room in the attic. When she wanted to write, she warned her children not to interrupt her unless it was an emergency. Despite the warning, she was frequently interrupted. A child would appear at the bottom of the stairs and yell up at her, “It’s an emergency! I can’t find my shoes!” One day, one of her children yelled, “It’s a true emergency! Come see the drawing I did! It’s really good!” Despite the interruptions, Ms. Bunting managed to write and have published The Two Giants — and 100 other books for children.
• When children’s book author Tomie dePaola was growing up, his mother brushed her hair and put on her makeup while sitting in front of a vanity, which made her feel a little silly because, as she pointed out, she was not a movie star. However, her little boy, Tomie, did want to look like a movie star, so one day he sat in front of the vanity and put on his mother’s lipstick, trying to look like his favorite movie star: Mae West. When he tried to remove the lipstick, he couldn’t, so his family found out what he had done. For a few days, little Tomie ran around the neighborhood with brightly colored lips.
• Opera singer Leo Slezak used to take his children to an amusement park where they would hit Punchy Monkey — a large robot with a well-padded face — on the jaw. Punchy Monkey would growl when you hit him, the volume of the growl depending on the intensity with which you hit him. Often, Mr. Slezak played Punchy Monkey with his children at home, letting them hit him gently, then growling. One morning, Mr. Slezak was still asleep when his very young daughter walked into his bedroom and hit him in the face. When he woke up angry, she explained, “I thought you were playing Punchy Monkey.”
• As a child, Benjamin West made his own paint brushes, using hairs from the tail of the family cat. Unfortunately, Benjamin liked to paint, and soon the cat’s tail had bald places. A visitor from Philadelphia saw Benjamin’s works of art and was so impressed that he gave him some paints and brushes. Because Benjamin enjoyed painting so much, he played hooky from school and instead went into the attic to paint. His parents had no idea he was playing hooky until his teacher paid a visit to find out where Benjamin had been for the last several school days.
• Bonnie Blair’s family were speed skaters. In fact, when Bonnie was born, her father and siblings were at the ice rink doing exactly that. Bonnie’s birth was even announced over the ice rink loudspeaker in this way: “Another speed skater has been born to the Blair family.” The announcement was true. When Bonnie was two years old, she started skating — her siblings acquired the smallest pair of skates they could find and slipped them over Bonnie’s regular shoes. As an Olympic speed skater, Bonnie won five gold medals.
• R.L. Stine, author of the Fear Street and Goosebumps series, used to listen to the beginning of the Suspenseradio show when he was a child. The show opened with a gong being struck, then a scary voice said, with appropriate pauses, “And now … tales … calculated … to keep you … in suspense.” The opening of the show was so scary that young Bob used to turn off the radio and not listen to the rest of the show. As an adult, Mr. Stine says, “Today, I try to make my books as scary as that announcer’s voice.”
• In kindergarten, future author Frank DeCaro met a little girl named Heidi who loved to play a joke on her friends. She would say, “Let’s see who can hit the lightest.” After her friend had lightly tapped her arm, she would hit him as hard as she could, then laugh and say, “I lose.” In the first grade, Frank went to the hospital to have his tonsils removed, so Heidi wrote him this note: “I like you and you like me. I will buy you a toy.” According to Mr. DeCaro, “At six, that was my idea of love.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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