Sid Fleischman Biography

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(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Born in Brooklyn, New York, on March 16, 1920, Albert Sidney Fleischman grew up in San Diego, California. He describes his father as a natural storyteller who told his children stories filled with dramatic effects. His mother, Sadie Solomon Fleischman, read her son such books as Aesop's Fables and Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. The book that most influenced Fleischman was Robin Hood, which he termed his first great reading experience. He would later write folktales modeled on the American "tall tale" tradition.

Fleischman served in the naval reserve during World War II aboard a destroyer escort in the Philippines, Borneo, and China. In 1942 he married Betty Taylor, and the couple had three children. After the war Fleischman began writing short stories and returned to San Diego State College to complete his degree. He graduated in 1949 and went to work as a reporter for a San Diego newspaper. When the newspaper went out of business he began his current vocation as a free-lance writer.

During the 1950s and early 1960s, Fleischman wrote detective and mystery stories for a number of paperback publishers. His first piece of sustained humorous writing for young adults, Mr. Mysterious and Company, was published in 1962. Since then he has continued writing for young people.

Since the publication of Mr. Mysterious and Company, Fleischman has written over thirty books and is considered one of America's most notable writers of humorous young adult books. A master of the tall tale, he has written a series of books featuring an Iowa farmer, McBroom, who both narrates the stories and is the central character. Josh Mc- Broom first appeared in McBroom Tells the Truth, and he, his wife, their eleven children, and their amazing one-acre farm have become Fleischman's best known creations. He has written nine other McBroom books.

Fleischman's Bloodhound Gang series consists of mystery stories, simplified for easy reading and based on his scripts for the television science show "3-2-1 Contact." Though criticized by some for a lack of both plausibility and humor, the stories are tailored for children who are reluctant to read or who may find reading difficult.

Fleischman's humorous stories have won critical acclaim from the beginning. He brings to them an ingenious wit and a sophisticated writing style, well suited to his chosen audience. Mr. Mysterious and Company won the New York Herald Tribune Spring Book Festival Award in 1962. By the Great Horn Spoon, Fleischman's second humorous book, won the Western Writers of America's Spur Award in 1963, the Southern California Council on Literature for Children and Young People Award in 1964, and the Boys' Clubs of America Award the same year. Chancy and the Grand Rascal won the Commonwealth Club of California's Juvenile Book Award in 1966.

McBroom Tells the Truth won the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1969. Jingo Django won the Book World Spring Festival Award in 1971, and McBroom the Rainmaker won the Society of Children's Book Writers' Golden Kite Award in 1974. Humbug Mountain was a National Book Award finalist in 1979 and also won the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award. The Whipping Boy, a book Fleischman worked on at intervals for nearly ten years, was the Newbery Medal winner in 1987.


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Albert Sidney Fleischman was born in Brooklyn, New York, on March 16, 1920, but grew up in San Diego, California. In his autobiography only some of his father's activities are described in those years when the family lived in New York.

Fleischman's father, originally named Rivven, anglicized to Reuben, was born in a shabby Ukrainian village named Olik. He never knew the exact day and year of his birth, as the family, in its poverty, had no calendars. To escape service in the Russian army, a wretched life of hazings and beatings, Rivven and his father paid Ukrainian smugglers to get them out of the country. They took an immigrant ship out of Hamburg bound for New York. Most of the male Fleischmans were either tailors or pressmen. Sid himself...

(The entire section is 1,922 words.)