Beverly Cleary is one of America’s most beloved authors. As a child, she struggled with reading and writing. But by third grade, after spending much time in her public library in Portland, Oregon, she found her skills had greatly improved. Before long, her school librarian was saying that she should write children’s books when she grew up.Instead she became a librarian. When a young boy asked her, “Where are the books about kids like us?” she remembered her teacher’s encouragement and was inspired to write the books she’d longed to read but couldn’t find when she was younger. She based her funny stories on her own neighborhood experiences and the sort of children she knew. And so, the Klickitat Street gang was born!Mrs. Cleary’s books have earned her many prestigious awards, including the American Library Association’s Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, presented to her in recognition of her lasting contribution to children’s literature. Dear Mr. Henshaw won the Newbery Medal, and Ramona Quimby, Age 8 and Ramona and Her Father have been named Newbery Honor Books. Her characters, including Beezus and Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins, and Ralph, the motorcycle-riding mouse, have delighted children for generations.
David Small was born and raised in Detroit. In school he became known as “the kid who could draw good,” but David never considered a career in art because it was so easy for him. At 21, after many years of writing plays, David took the advice of a friend who informed him that the doodles he made on the telephone pad were better than anything he had ever written. He switched his major to Art and never looked back. After getting his MFA at the Yale Graduate School of Art, David taught art for many years on the college level, ran a film series, and made satirical sketches for campus newspapers.
Approaching tenure, he wrote and illustrated a picture book, Eulalie and the Hopping Head, which he took to New York, pounding the pavements and collecting rejections for a month in the dead of winter. Eulalie was published in 1981. Although tenure at the college did not follow, many more picture books did, as well as extensive work for national magazines and newspapers. His drawings appeared regularly in The New Yorker and The New York Times.
A learn-as-you-go illustrator, David’s books have been translated into several languages, made into animated films and musicals, and have won many of the top awards accorded to illustration, including the 1997 Caldecott Honor and The Christopher Medal for The Gardener written by his wife, Sarah Stewart, and the 2001 Caldecott Medal for So, You Want To Be President? by Judith St. George. “At the Caldecott ceremony in San Francisco,” said David, “facing that veritable sea of smiling faces — of librarians, of friends in publishing, of my family and other well-wishers — I was so overcome that I lost my voice and croaked my way through the speech. Having been turned from a frog into a prince by the American Library Association, before their eyes that night, I turned back into a frog.” (Bio via davidsmallbooks.com)
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