Synopses & Reviews
The man with the spats rolled up his sleeves and proceeded to pluck a polished red billiard ball out of thin air. Presto! It vanished. Abracadabra! It reappeared. It turned white. it blushed red again. VoiIá! Suddenly there were four billiard balls between this amazing man's fingers.
I was stunned. All of this was happening right under my nose. And there was more. He flipped the deck into falling waterfalls of cards, spun them into fans, and thrust a sword through a shower of cards to impale the seven of diamonds -- selected a moment before.
I was dazzled. The moment he finished his act and ushered us gawkers back onto the sidewalk, I knew what I wanted to be. Someone else could be president of the United States.
I wanted to be a magician.
The man with the spats rolled up his sleeves and proceeded to pluck a polished red billiard ball out of thin air. Presto It vanished. Abracadabra It reappeared. It turned white. it blushed red again. VoiIa Suddenly there were four billiard balls between this amazing man's fingers.
From reluctant reader to professional magician to Hollywood screenwriter to notable creator of children's books--Sid Fleishman's story has never a dull moment. His biography is a welcome treat for his fans around the world. And for writers and would-be writers, it is a treasure trove of insight, inspiration, and usable advice. Young Adult.
About the Author
Newbery Award-winning author of The Whipping Boy,
Sid Fleischman is surprised that he grew up to be a writer. "I had a childhood much like everyone else's," he writes in his newly published autobiography, The Abracadabra Kid: A Writer's Life.
"What went wrong?"
But his childhood was not so typical after all. Born in Brooklyn, he grew up in San Diego during the Great Depression and decided in the fifth grade to become a magician. Just out of high school, he traveled widely in vaudeville and with a midnight ghost-and-goblin show. "I was on the way to becoming a writer. I just didn't know it."
After wartime service with the U.S. Naval Reserve, he finished college and worked as a reporter on the San Diego Daily Journal. When the paper folded in 1950, he turned to fiction writing. One of Fleischman's novels was bought for a major motion picture, and he was offered a contract to write the screenplay.
"My young children led me into writing children's books. They didn't understand what I did for a living. Other fathers, they learned, left home in the morning and returned at the end of the day. I was always around the house. I decided to clear up the mystery and wrote a book just for them." Today he divides his time between writing films and children's books.
Fleischman says that when he knew very little about writing, he wrote very fast. Now it takes him longer: three months to a year to complete a short book, and sometimes much longer if he can't figure out how to get his characters out of the jams he has put them in. "I write my books in the dark. I don't like to know what's going to happen next until I get there. It sustains my interest. I'm anxious to get to my desk each morning to find out what is going to happen."
Fleischman finds ideas lurking everywhere. His novel The Thirteenth Floor began with the superstition that there is something evil and magical in the number thirteen. The Ghost in the Noonday Sun arose from the folk belief that anyone born at the stroke of midnight has the power to see ghosts. The problem for the writer, he says, is not so much in finding an idea as in figuring out what to do with it. That may take years.
As a children's book author Sid Fleischman feels a special obligation to his readers. "The books we enjoy as children stay with us forever -- they have a special impact. Paragraph after paragraph and page after page, the author must deliver his or her best work." With more than 35 books to his credit, some of which have been made into motion pictures, Sid Fleischman can be assured that his work will make a special impact.
Sid Fleischman writes his books at a huge table cluttered with projects: story ideas, library books, research, letters, notes, pens, pencils, and a computer. He lives in an old-fashioned, two-story house full of creaks and character, and enjoys hearing the sound of the nearby Pacific Ocean. He has always lived by the ocean and now lives in Santa Monica, California.