c.2017, Quirk Books
$13.95 ($15.95 Canada)
199 pages

“Write that down.”

Your teacher says that all the time in class. Your parents might say it, as a reminder because sometimes, writing things down can be important. And as you’ll see in the new book, “Kid Authors” by David Stabler, illustrated by Doogie Horner, written words can also be magic.

For as long as you can remember, you’ve loved books. They take you forward and backward in time, to places you’ve never been, with new people and new adventure. Books contain awesome stories — and so do the lives of the authors of those books.

Take, for instance, Edgar Allan Poe.

Poe was the middle child of three, born in early 1809 to parents who were performers. Because they were gone a lot, baby Edgar was mostly cared for by other people; at age 2, that became permanent when his father abandoned the family and his mother died. Says Stabler, Poe was a so-so student and he was bullied as a boy. Was that the reason he wrote such scary stories?

And then there was Laura Ingalls Wilder, who grew up on the prairie, where family often slept out in the open — this was the 1800s, after all — and bugs, weather and fire were big concerns. So were the local Indians, who were not at all happy that the Ingalls had built on Osage land.

As the tale goes, Zora Neale Hurston was a baby when a wild hog wandered into her mother’s kitchen. That was the first story of her life; later ones included those she heard from the men who hung out at a general store near her Alabama home. She loved words. She loved them so much that she gained a reputation for being her class’s best reader, which won her a hundred pennies and “a library full of books.”

J.K. Rowling wrote her “first adventure story” at age 7. Poet Langston Hughes endured a “massive earthquake” while living in Mexico as a boy, before meeting his grandmother, who told him family stories of abolitionists, racism and possibilities. Charles Schulz was a published cartoonist at age 15. And Beverly Cleary loved books but the creator of Henry Huggins was a “struggling reader.”

“Everybody loves a good story,” says author David Stabler — and that includes your bookish child. So what better way to read about the story-behind-the-storytelling than with “Kid Authors”?

Open these covers, and you’ll see a good representation of literature throughout the centuries. That’s good for you but your child will find something even better here: each of the 15 mini-biographies and most of the back-of-the-book “fun-facts” are about authors your child will recognize, and Stabler makes them relatable. Chapters are accompanied by illustrations by Doogie Horner but that’s still not all: oh-so-subtly, there’s encouragement in these tales. If Stan Lee or Maya Angelou can become a famous writer, your child can do it, too.

Kids ages 8 to 12 will devour this book, especially if they’re hungry readers. Parents can love it, too, because “Kid Authors” will teach your child to do the write thing.

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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