Sixteen young authors-to-be face challenges ranging from bullies to a really big spider in this series’ fourth entry.
All write, wrote, or have written for young audiences. The spider, an aptly named Hercules baboon tarantula, bit “Ronald” Tolkien during a family stay in South Africa; bullies improbably met their matches in Charles “Lewis Carroll” Dodgson and Edgar Allen Poe; others struggled with shyness (J.K. Rowling), parental death or abandonment (Zora Neale Hurston, Mark Twain, Lucy Maud Montgomery), birth defects (Sherman Alexie), poverty (several), racial prejudice (Langston Hughes), and other obstacles. The pseudonymous Stabler also points to important early influences, from an indomitable grandmother on Hughes to comics and comic strips on Stan Lee and Jeff Kinney, as well as at watershed moments such as Beverly Cleary’s epiphanic discovery in third grade that reading is fun and literary kickoffs like 7-year-old Jo Rowling’s “The Seven Cursed Diamonds.” Broadly read preteens will recognize the names and have no trouble connecting these observations and select incidents with each writer’s best known works. Horner supplies mildly comical caricatures and gags on nearly every page: “No more flies. Today I dine on human flesh!” exclaims that tarantula, leaping at a bug-eyed future fantasist. Brief anecdotes about 28 more writers bring up the rear.
Lively glimpses of formative moments and budding talents. (index and bibliography not seen) (Collective biography. 9-13)