Bet you didn't know . . .

Author, Author

September 12, 1999

In his book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook," Jim Trelease shares little-known tidbits of some of America's most popular and enduring authors. Here is a sampling:

* "The Tales of Uncle Remus" was the childhood inspiration of Beatrix Potter, who grew up to write the Peter Rabbit books. In turn, her books were the childhood favorites of C.S. Lewis, author of the Narnia chronicles.

* Hans Christian Andersen dropped out of elementary school at age 10, returned at age 17 and barely graduated at age 23.

* Wilson Rawls' first manuscript for "Where the Red Fern Grows" was so filled with poor grammar and misspellings and was so lacking in punctuation that the author's shame caused him to burn the entire manuscript -- after working on it 25 years.

* L. Frank Baum found the name for the land of Oz while staring at the label on the bottom drawer of his filing cabinet: O-Z.

* Award-winning author Cynthia Rylant grew up in rural West Virginia in a home that had no books, in a community that had neither a library nor a bookstore, but did have a drugstore -- which sold the comic books that Cynthia devoured by the hundreds (especially Archie).

* Jerry Spinelli, author of "Maniac Magee," spent 16 years' worth of lunch hours writing unpublished novels before his first book was accepted.

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