Paul Fleischman

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At a Glance

Paul Fleischman’s father, Sid Fleischman, won the Newbery Medal in 1987 for his book The Whipping Boy. Paul won the award in 1989 for Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices. They are the only father-and-son pair to ever win the coveted prize. Sid would read the books he was writing to Paul chapter by chapter as he wrote them when Paul was a child. This led to the younger Fleischman’s love of literature and writing. He later became interested in authoring historical fiction after living in a two-hundred-year-old home in New Hampshire. Along with his novels, he has written several plays that combine poetry, prose, and multiple points of view.

Facts and Trivia

  • As a child, Fleischman would bicycle around his town and collect odd bits of trash, which he later made into sculptures. He still does interesting art projects—but now he uses his computer instead of trash.
  • Fleischman said that he writes for young people because he enjoys the freedom of making up his own genres, something he feels he could not do if he were publishing books for adults.
  • Fleischman has worked as a bookstore clerk, a library shelver, and a proofreader.
  • He started the grammar watchdog groups ColonWatch and The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to English.
  • A film version of his novel A Fate Totally Worse Than Death was released in 2005.

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(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Paul Fleischman loves researching "out-of-the-way corners of American history", and he incorporates many interesting and little-known historical facts into his fiction. He says that he reads randomly and voraciously in hopes of uncovering ideas for his stories, but that he often discovers them accidentally while poking around in libraries and used book stores.

Fleischman also loves music. He says, "If only I could write music I'd give up writing books in an instant." He combines his passion for music with his literary talentsthrough the sound of words. He reports that he spends more time tinkering with the harmony of the sounds involved in composing a story than with figuring out the sense of it. For his recognition of the importance of "a story's sound shape," he gives credit to the many pleasurable hours spent during his childhood listening to his father, author Sid Fleischman, read drafts of his writings.

Fleischman was born on September 5, 1952, in Monterey, California, was brought up in Santa Monica, and lives in Pacific Grove. He attended the University of California at Berkeley and graduated from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. He has worked in libraries and bookstores, as well as a bagel baker, and an editorial proofreader. Fleischman's father characterizes his middle child as witty and intelligent, and reports that Paul's fascination with music began early and that he was able to excel in school with very little effort. In 1978 Fleischman married Becky Mojica, a registered nurse; they have two children, Dana and Seth.

In addition to the prestigious Newbery Award in 1989 for Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices, his novel, Graven...

(The entire section is 3,100 words.)