Although most associated with Brooklyn, Mel Glenn was actually born in Switzerland to an American father studying medicine and an Austrian mother. When Glenn was three, the family returned to the United States and settled in Brooklyn, near Coney Island. As a child, Glenn relished the escape provided by books. He matriculated at New York University, initially in pre-med. Finding the curriculum unappealing, Glenn opted ultimately to pursue an English degree. He wrote, principally about sports, for the campus newspaper, deciding finally that journalism would be his field. After graduating in 1964, however, Glenn, fascinated as a child by the exotic ports he had studied in geography, volunteered for the Peace Corps and for two years taught English and history at a tiny Methodist missionary school in Sierra Leone. Despite its impoverished circumstances, the school taught Glenn important lessons on the dedication and enthusiasm that children bring to education. Returning stateside in 1967, he completed a master’s degree in education at New York’s Yeshiva University and taught junior high briefly until he accepted a position on the English faculty of Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, the same school he himself had attended. He would teach there for more than thirty years, retiring in 2001. Following his retirement, Glenn became a tireless promoter for reading and creative writing in schools.
His writing career—one of the most prolific and successful among contemporary young adult writers—did not begin until Glenn was thirty-seven. After being asked to review a colleague’s manuscript intended for submission as a young adult novel, Glenn confided to his wife that the manuscript was quite bad; she then challenged him to write his own. As a New Year’s resolution, Glenn did just that, finding in free verse form access to what had compelled him since his Peace Corps days: his fascination and respect for kids. Drawing on his background in...
(The entire section is 800 words.)