Imagination doesn't just mean making things up. It means thinking things through, solving [problems] or hoping to do so, and being just distant enough to be able to laugh at things that are normally painful. [Some people] would call this escapism, but they would be be entirely wrong. I would call fantasy the most serious, and the most useful branch of writing there is.
--Diana Wynne Jones

Friday, June 18, 2010

In Memorium: Sid Fleischman; and a Free Book

Sid Fleischman died in March this year. I just found out, and I am mourning. I loved his books when I was ten. Still do. He had a way with language that delighted me when I was young and awes me now as I write my own books. He wrote like a magician, which he was: with plot twists and surprises that felt like rabbits pulled out of hats and Houdini-style escapes. His characters were my friends. When I signed up for the summer SCBWI conference in L.A. last year, it was largely because Sid was supposed to be there. When he canceled last minute, I was seriously bummed.

Most people are familiar with Fleischman's Newbery-winning book The Whipping Boy. Unfortunately, few seem know the fabulous Jim Ugly, or Ghost in the Noonday Sun, or Humbug Mountain. My ultimate favorite Sid Fleishman story is one that has been out of print for years, which I consider a horrible crime: it's called Jingo Django, and I've got a copy that I'll be giving away this month.  

Jingo has a perfect first page and last page, a wonderful first line and last line, and a gripping everything in between. You couldn't ask for a more lovably-flawed main-character, or more dastardly villains--a la Charles Dickens--or a more artfully-crafted book. Pardon my adverbs. I get carried away when talking about  Sid's writing. I consider this book perfect: it's everything I love in a middle-grade story for boys. Girls love it, too. I did. I keep hoping somebody will consider reprinting, especially now, in honor of Sid's passing.

Until they do, I'm offering it free to you. Yes. FREE BOOK. I did say that.

Same rules for entering drawing apply:

a) Follow my blog.
b) Leave a comment and tell me you follow. Also, tell me you want to be entered.
c) If you're not eighteen, get permission from a parent.

Contest will be open until midnight Wednesday, June 23rd.

You should also check out Sid Fleischman's website. It has writerly tips, answers to FAQs, and you can see what else he's written, as well as read his memorial page. Sid has also written an autobiography: The Abracadabra Kid that's worth checking out.

We'll miss you, Sid. The writing world has a big hole in it without you. You got my son reading to himself in bed at age eight, and that took some real magic.


  1. As always, I am a follower. I wanted to tell you that I checked out Savvy by Ingrid Law, and I loved it! Thanks for the recommendation! Such a cute story and I loved the creativity with the Savvys. I am already recommending it out to everyone I meet.

  2. Elena, Thanks for your advice on my blog. At least I think it was you. If you are the one who suggested I join a page a day blog group, I would love to learn more. Maybe it will help me get motivated.

    It if wasn't you. Well, it's still good to read your blog and hear about what you've been up to. I'm not conferencing this year either. It's a strange feeling, isn't it.

    I've only read the Whipping Boy. I'd love to read Mr. Fleischmen's other books. Please enter me in your contest. Not only am I a follower, I have a link to your blog on my home page. :)

  3. Super Pi: I'm glad you liked Savvy, and thanks for spreading the word! More people should know about it. I'll enter you in the contest. I'm excited for other people to discover how wonderful Sid Fleischman is.

    Kristi: Yes, it was me bossing you around on your blog--as if I actually had balance in my life. High-five on the non-conferencing. I haven't been commenting much on anyone's blog lately, so I wanted to show you I do still read yours. Besides, it's such a pertinent topic always for writer-moms.

    As for the one-page-a-day blog, here's the link:

    Please do join us! It forced me to finish up one book I was avoiding and to mostly finish a first draft of another. Maybe I'll write a post about it.

    And I'll enter you in the book drawing for sure.

  4. Sorry, the link appears not to be an actual link. But that's the website.

  5. I haven't read any of his work - I'll have to check it out. Thank you for all the poetry recommendations.

  6. Mary: I hope you do read some. And I hope you like it after I've talked it up so much. Good luck with the poetry. :)

  7. Hi Cuz! I am a follower and would love to be entered into your book giveaway.

    I was also hoping you might have some reading recommendations for my kidlets. They both love to be read to and I am always searching for good stories. Brett is two and Remmi is one.


Blog Archive