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Our Story Begins: Your Favorite Authors and Illustrators Share Fun, Inspiring, and Occasionally Ridiculous Things They Wrote and Drew as Kids

Review

Our Story Begins: Your Favorite Authors and Illustrators Share Fun, Inspiring, and Occasionally Ridiculous Things They Wrote and Drew as Kids

Although OUR STORY BEGINS is described as a book for readers between the ages of 8 and 12, this inspiring and amusing collection is one that should be read by people of all ages. In it, 26 authors and illustrators share not only stories and drawings they created as children and young adults, as well as a couple of pages introducing their work. In these introductory notes is an abundance of encouragement for others who also feel a pull to create, to never let their imaginations be squashed and to never give up in the face of rejection.

The childhood works contained in this collection were created by the contributors when they were between the ages of 7 and 16, and are ordered according to the age at which they were created. All different time periods are represented, which makes looking at the photographs by each contributor’s chapter even more interesting; guessing which decade the photograph was taken in can be a fun game to play while reading.

"I would recommend this book for anyone who feels they have an ounce of creativity in them and for any adult who would like to get in touch with their inner child again."

In addition to spanning many decades, this collection features many diverse authors as well. From members of the LGBTQ+ community to a woman who fled Vietnam during the war, this book is truly representative of the world community. It is multimedia as well, containing illustrations, get-well-soon cards, short stories and portions of novels, encyclopedia entries, journal entries and more. There is truly something for everyone.

What I love most about OUR STORY BEGINS is the fact that despite the wonderful diversity, all of the contributors have one thing in common -- they felt different in some way when they were younger. Something about their interests and their commitment to their creativity set them apart from their peers, but each of them were idiosyncratic in their "otherness." These artists encourage readers who may be feeling the same way to embrace their own quirky brand of weird and never let it go. This sort of motivation is so important and to have it come from people who have "made it" is even better because it allows kids to see what their role models have accomplished, while also noting where they began.

The candidness contained in the prefaces to each contributor's childhood works, the sharing of frustrations and setbacks they had as kids, and the explanations of what it took for them to get where they are show that success does not happen overnight. I would recommend this book for anyone who feels they have an ounce of creativity in them and for any adult who would like to get in touch with their inner child again.

Reviewed by Kat Baumgartner on July 26, 2017

Our Story Begins: Your Favorite Authors and Illustrators Share Fun, Inspiring, and Occasionally Ridiculous Things They Wrote and Drew as Kids
by Elissa Brent Weissman, Kwame Alexander, Tom Angleberger, Kathi Appelt, Ashley Bryan, Tim Federle, Candace Fleming, Marla Frazee, Chris Gall, Alex Gino, Chris Grabenstein, Gordon Korman, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Thanhha Lai, Peter Lerangis, Gail Carson Levine, Grace Lin, Yuyi Morales, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, R. J. Palacio, Linda Sue Park, Dan Santat, Brian Selznick, Cynthia Leitich Smith, and Rita Williams-Garcia

  • Publication Date: July 4, 2017
  • Genres: Careers, Children's 8-12, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 1481472089
  • ISBN-13: 9781481472081