Saturday, November 14, 2009

Children’s Books: Born to Write by Charis Cotter

There’s a lot to love about award-winning children’s author Charis Cotter’s Born to Write: The Remarkable Life of Six Authors (Annick Press). Here Cotter delivers very good mini-biographies of half a dozen children’s authors: Lucy Maud Montgomery, C.S. Lewis, E.B. White, Madeleine L’Engle, Philip Pullman and Christopher Paul Curtis. Each of these, perhaps with more support material, would have been sufficient for a slender book. But combined as they are, Born to Write reads like a mini-encyclopedia of children’s authors.

By drawing connections between her half dozen subjects, Cotter goes deeper than you would expect: illustrating how early experience can shape a life and push an individual one way. Or another.

“And when they grew up,” Cotter writes at one point, “instead of forgetting what it felt like to be a child, they remembered, and put it into their books.”

As well, Cotter perfectly captures the essence of the book culture of childhood and shares that with her young readers:
If you love reading books, you know what it is like to lose yourself in a story. Your bedroom drops away and you’re in the world of the book, side by side with the hero or heroine. Your ticket to those other worlds depends on the strength of your imagination and the power of the words you’re reading. The best writers scoop you up and take you on a ride that ends only on the last page of the book.
Born to Write is a good and interesting book about books and the culture of reading. This is a good one to share with the youngsters in your life.

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