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.

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