cover image Margaret, Frank, and Andy: Three Writers' Stories

Margaret, Frank, and Andy: Three Writers' Stories

Cynthia Rylant. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $15 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-15-201083-6

In three very brief biographies heralding the life and work of Margaret Wise Brown, L. Frank Baum and E. B. White, Rylant tells the kind of anecdotes that are sure to spark the interest of young readers who might otherwise be turned off by nonfiction. She illuminates the personalities of the three classic writers, explaining their creative processes in the same type of clear, unembellished prose she uses in her fiction (Missing May; The Van Gogh Cafe). The author recounts how Brown couldn't think of plots when she was a college student taking a writing course, but later got the idea for her Noisy books when the illustrator Leonard Weisgard told her his father had recorded the sounds of London streets. Baum's naming of the land of Oz is connected to a particular file drawer marked O-Z; Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web are shown to reflect White's love of animals and farm life. Each chapter is prefaced with a memorable excerpt from the writer's work and accompanied by black-and-white photographs. This slim, small-sized volume showcases Rylant's storytelling abilities, formidable in their own right, and even more so when used as a bridge to the storytelling of others. All ages. (Oct.)