Saturday, September 27, 2008

Tales From the Conference: The Stories behind the Stories. What I learned from Anita Silvey

Saturday morning started off with author, Anita Silvey giving us a little talk about Our Greatest Children's Books and the Stories Behind Them. First I was thinking "OK, how interesting can this be?"

Answer: VERY!

First of all, Anita if funny with a capitol PH! She could talk about how paint dries and she could make it funny or phunny. But this lady did her homework. The content, along with her speaking ability was pure delight. Here's some mini snippets from some of the things that she shared.

**** The following words are not verbatim. These are from my notes. Hopefully I wrote down the info correctly. If it's not, the error is in my note-taking, not in Anita's presentation.

1) Anne of Green Gables started out as a Sunday School story. Big publishers turned her down. When she went to a smaller publisher, they said they would publish the story, but they didn't think the story woudl sell well, so they offered to pay her a $500 flat fee. Luckily for her (and her estate), she turned them down.

2) The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahm = His editor HATED the book.

3) The Secret Garden = was considered an insignificant book in its time.

4) The Story of Ferdinand was meant to be a silly book, but because it was released during the war in Spain, it was taken to be political and it was analyzed as such.

5) Curious George was written by a Jewish German living in Paris. He and his wife had to wrap up his manuscripts, and ride their bikes out of the Country with the Nazi's 36 hours behind them all the way. When they arrived at the border, a German Guard stopped them for questioning. He asked what he did for a living. He replied "I'm a children's book writer." The guard asked to see his work, looked over the Curious George Manuscript, smiled and said "my son would love this book. You may pass through." So, Curious George literally saved the lives of his creators from the Nazi's.

6) The PB "The Carrot Seed" started out at over 10,000. No, that is not a typo with too many zero's. It really did start out at over 10,000 words. Now that's cutting down!

7) For Dr. Suess, No one would publish "To Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street" They all said his style was too different from the mainstream. He was about to burn his manuscript and give up writing when a chance meeting on the street brought him to the man who would go on to publish his book. He was known to say that if he had been walking on the other side of the street that day, he would have never been published and would have probably given up writing.

8) Gary Paulsen, the author of "Hatchet" didnt' put anything in his fiction that he hadn't tried himself.

9) Lois Lowry was encouraged not to write The Giver. They thought it would ruin her career.

10) Kate DiCamillo (author of "Because of Winn Dixie") was rejected over 4,000 times. Again, this isn't a typo. I'll type it again. 4,000 rejections. WOW! As a writer I don't know if I should be encouraged or discouraged!

I believe these stories (in more detail) along with many more are in Anita's book "100 Best Books for Children"

There was a lot more, but these are the ones that caught my attention the most. Anyone who was there, and would like to share anything else, please add it in the comments!


Jacqui said...

Oh, the Curious George story is FASCINATING! I wish someone would write that book.

4,000 rejections. Holy cow. Not sure what to say other than what guts she had to keep going.

Thanks for sharing.

C.R. Evers said...

Hey Jacqui! I just added links to Anita's web-site. I think these stories can be found in her book "100 Best Books for Children"

The stories are fascinating, but I think the Curious George story was the one that captured my attention the most!!!!

Rena said...

Wow! That's really interesting. Her book sounds fascinating too. 4000 rejections, really? Wow!

Brenda said...

4,000 rejections...that is what you call determination...!!!

I've heard the story of Dr Seuss and am very thankful that he wasn't on the wrong side of the street...

PJ Hoover said...

What a great and inspiring list of items! I loved reading every single one!

beth said...

I loved her speech!