WITS writers often turn to Paul Fleischman when they teach choral poetry. His book Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices has delightful, double-column poems about insects. The poems, which include everything from a love affair between lice to fireflies writing in the sky, are written for two readers alternating turns.

What I did not realize until recently is that Paul’s father Sid Fleischman was also an accomplished writer, who like his son, is a recipient of a Newbery Award. In addition to writing screenplays, Sid is the author of notable children’s books such as The Whipping Boy.

For anyone interested in knowing what it is like to be a writer (and a magician), Sid Fleischman’s book The Abracadabra Kid: A Writer’s Life offers one picture. The book is divided into 43 short chapters that begin with humorous excerpts from letters that Fleischman has received over the years from children. One child, after being asked by his teacher to write a thank-you letter to Fleischman, the visiting author at his school, wastes no time getting to his main point, “Please don’t come back to my school. I hate to write letters.”

Try this:
Go to your local library this week and check out some books by Paul and Sid Fleischman! Then, write a poem for two voices. Record your poem with a friend or parent!

by Marcia Chamberlain, Writers in the Schools

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