Topics for Discussion
1. What in your opinion is the most interesting period in Sid Fleischman's life?
2. Fleischman never mentions the Holocaust in this book although he must have had relatives in Europe affected by it. Why is this?
3. Fleischman stopped being a professional magician and became a writer. Does he bring a sort of magic to his novels? How?
4. What did Fleischman learn by listening to the speech patterns of the Midwest? Is an ear for speech patterns absolutely necessary for a novelist?
5. In the 1950s we were told that only American colleges and universities attempted to teach their students their own language. Would Fleischman have found freshman English more profitable today than he did in the late 1930s?
6. Fleischman, despite the fact that he missed his wife and his family, seems to have enjoyed his life in the U.S. Navy. Was he at all typical of many men during World War II in the services?
7. What qualities enabled Fleischman, after only three weeks in Shanghai, to use his visit as the basis of five books?
8. After writing detective and adventure novels and screenplays, Fleischman became a very accomplished author of children's books. Having read The Abracadabra Kid: A Writer's Life, can you see why he made this choice of a profession?
9. Considering the tips Fleischman gives to writers in this book and the twelve suggestions he includes in the chapter entitled "Footsteps," is his book a valuable manual for a would-be author?