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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Applauding flights of fantasy

“Encourage children to write their own stories, and then don't rain on their parade. Don't say, 'That's not true.' Applaud flights of fantasy. Help with spelling and grammar, but stand up and cheer the use of imagination.  -- Gail Carson Levine

Author of 20 young adult books, Levine’s very first novel, Ella Enchanted, received a Newbery Honor in 1998, but she was no “overnight success.”

Born this day in 1947, Levine grew up in New York City and credits her parents David and Sylvia for her creative streak. Her father, whose childhood in an orphanage provided inspiration for her story Dave at Night, owned a commercial art studio, and her mother was a teacher who wrote plays for her students to perform. Her older sister, Rani, her senior by five years, became a painter. 

As a child, Levine read avidly; her favorite book was Peter Pan and she also enjoyed the works of Louisa May Alcott and L. M. Montgomery. “I actually didn’t want to be a writer,” she said.  “First I wanted to act, and then I wanted to be a painter like my big sister.”

But, after taking a class in writing and illustrating for children, Levine discovered that she enjoyed writing far more than illustrating.   She began writing in 1987, but over the next nine years, all of her manuscripts were rejected.   A great poster child for perserverance, she took more writing classes and joined writer's groups, ultimately getting Ella accepted.  And she was on her writing way.  Her latest book, Stolen Magic, was just released.

Reflecting on her early writing and being rejected experiences, Levine says "those years were actually some of my happiest, because I was learning to write."

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