When we embarked on making Learn to Read, we knew there were going to be books. A lot of them. But who will write them, we wondered? As we talked about our favorite books it struck us like a bolt of lightning – what if we could get our favorite children’s book authors to write some? It was worth a shot.
The authors who took our challenge thrilled us beyond our wildest imagination: Rosemary Wells, Robert San Souci, David Ezra Stein, Michelle Knudsen, and Carolyn Crimi. Each author comes with a daunting resume.
Rosemary Wells has given the world characters the likes of Max and Ruby, and one of my favorites, Yoko, in more than 60 books. We also love Rosemary for her dedication to children’s literacy. Check out Read to Your Bunny on her website.
There would be no Disney’s Mulan without Robert San Souci’s retelling of the classic tale, Fa Mulan. Oh, did I mention that he’s a Caldecott winner? It’s true. Have a look some time at his remarkable The Faithful Friend: A Story from the Caribbean.
David Ezra Stein is a gorgeous illustrator. You can’t help but pick up one of his books off the shelf, like Leaves, Monster Hug, The Nice Book, and Cowboy Ned & Andy. After drooling over the illustrations you’ll realize what a terrific writer he is, too. Charming tales, all.
Michelle Knudsen is the bestselling author of Library Lion, and has just published the amazing young adult novel, The Dragon of Trelian. In case you missed it, you can read all about her in my recent interview.
And one of the funniest picture book authors is master of onomatopoeia, Carolyn Crimi. I particularly enjoy her books The Louds Move In and Tessa’s Tip-Tapping Toes. Carolyn’s oeuvre highlights her predilection for things spooky, with the books Boris and Bella and Where’s My Mummy?
Each author was given a grade level and a list of the words that a child would know at that point in the curriculum. As Michelle said in her interview, the task was a challenging one, but they all passed through the challenge to create books as enjoyable as they are readable. David Ezra Stein gets bonus points for making a hilarious tortoise-and-the-hare story out of the shortest word list.