Mary Pope Osborne, author of the bestselling Magic Tree House series, became a bestseller in her own right last month when, at a fundraising auction, she was auctioned off for the highest bid of the night—$36,000.
The auction took place at Chelsea Piers in New York City; Peter Olson, CEO of Random House, and his wife Candace, who were raising funds for their daughter's school, the Convent of the Sacred Heart, had asked the author to participate. Osborne agreed to offer the winning bidder a short presentation at the school about writing and using the imagination.
Once Osborne got to the event, she said she was "shocked and surprised" because she had expected it to be a silent auction, but instead participants were bidding on people right in front of everyone. "A famous pop star and a Giants football player went before me," she said, "and they had gone for five or six thousand apiece." Once the bidding started for Osborne, she kept her head down because "I was horrified. I thought nobody would bid on me." But the bidding rose higher and higher, and in the end, two couples contributed $18,000 each for a grand total of $36,000.
Osborne agreed to give a presentation to each couple's daughter's classrooms, one for second graders and one for fourth graders. Now that the event is over, she is able to look back on the experience and laugh. "There was so much room for total humiliation," she said, "but it turned out to be a great endorsement for writing, in that someone would pay that much for an author to talk to girls about writing and imagination."