cover image Author: A True Story

Author: A True Story

Helen Lester. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $14 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-395-82744-4

Lester's (Tacky the Penguin) lighthearted look at how she came to write children's books will give aspiring authors of any age a lift--and encouragement to persevere, even in the face of learning disabilities (as a child) and multiple rejection slips (as a novice writer). Candid and a little self-effacing, Lester tells of her struggles with the creative process, noting that both as an elementary school student and as a published author, ""Often I can't come up with a single idea, and my stories get stuck in the middle, and I can't think of a title."" She accompanies her breezy narrative with her own cheerful, somewhat rudimentary cartoons pictures, save on one spread where she drolly juxtaposes her childlike drawing of a pig next to a highly polished rendering by her frequent collaborator, Lynn Munsinger. Some of the best moments here are transitional: a picture shows the young Lester dreaming of joining the circus when she grows up; the next page continues, ""Since no one from the circus came looking for me, I became a teacher."" Her ending playfully concludes, ""I'm glad I didn't join the circus.... I never dreamed I'd become an author. So this is better than a dream come true."" Her admirers will agree. All ages. (Mar.)