• Impressionist painter Edgar Degas loved children. A mother once criticized her daughter for making spelling mistakes, then she asked Mr. Degas, “It’s very bad to misspell, is it not, Monsieur Degas?” He agreed, but when the mother’s back was turned, he asked the child, “Which would you prefer — to spell correctly and not have ice cream or to make mistakes and have ice cream?” The child replied, “To make mistakes and have ice cream.” Mr. Degas agreed, “So would I.”
• When Julie Krone was two years old, a woman came to her family’s farm to look at a horse she was thinking about buying. To show that the horse was gentle, her mother lifted young Julie up and put her on the back of the horse, then she started talking to the woman. As she was talking, the horse trotted off. Her mother was understandably worried, but young Julie grabbed the reins and turned the horse around. As an adult, Ms. Krone became a famous jockey.
• When Jamie Tevis, wife of Walter Tevis (author of the novels The Hustler, The Color of Money, and The Man Who Fell to Earth) was about to give birth to their first child, Will, the pain of the contractions made her say, “I can’t go through with this.” Her husband replied, “It’s too late to think about that now.” When Will became a toddler, a favorite activity was hearing his mother sneeze. This made him laugh so hard that he would fall down.
• As a kid growing up in the 1950s, Newbery Award-winning author Jerry Spinelli sometimes attended movies in the park. According to tradition, teenagers sat on the benches while young kids such as Jerry sat on the ground. One evening, Jerry decided to sit on a bench. This went well until some teenagers decided that they wanted to sit on the bench. They lifted one end of the bench into the air — and Jerry slid off the other end.
• Children’s book author Joanna Cole uses in her books things that have happened in her family. For example, in one book, a child finds a “rock” that is actually a piece of Styrofoam covered with dirt. In real life, Joanna’s daughter, Rachel, was so excited to discover such a “rock” at the park that she had told Joanna, “Mommy, Mommy, look at this terrific rock.” Joanna couldn’t bring herself to tell Rachel that it wasn’t a rock.
• Susan Butcher grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but she disliked the noise, confusion, and lack of open space. When she was in the first grade, she even wrote a paper with the title “I Hate Cities.” (The title was also the entire paper.) She also asked her parents to allow her to live in a tent in their yard. As an adult, she moved to Alaska, where she won the 1,049-mile Iditarod dog sled race multiple times.
• During Canadian winters, Canadian schoolchildren wear snowsuits. A kindergarten teacher once dressed one of her students in a snowsuit that was loaded with buttons and zippers, so he could go outside for recess. After she dressed him, he told her, “This isn’t my snowsuit,” so she undressed him again. After she had undressed the boy, he told her, “This snowsuit’s my sister’s, but my mom said I could wear it today.”
• Even in her youth, opera singer Geraldine Farrar exhibited assertiveness. Clarence, a 12- or 13-year-old boy who was older than she, tripped her with his hockey stick. Although she told him to stop, he continued. After he had tripped her three times, she removed three metal ribs from her umbrella, then taught him a lesson that resulted in his being unable to sit down without pain for a few days.
• Children’s author Eve Bunting was born in an old Irish house that her father and grandfather had also been born in. Before it was a house, it had been a granary, and because the house was so old, it sometimes settled, sending a shower of seeds down from the ceiling onto the residents. Young Eve thought that ghosts were playing tricks on her family, so she would look upward and yell, “You up there! Stop that!”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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