KID REPORTERS’ NOTEBOOK

Our Story Begins

WATCH THE VIDEO
Click below to see clips from Maxwells interview with childrens book author Elissa Brent Weissman.

 

“What makes children’s writing and art so special is the joy that comes through,“ says children’s book author Elissa Brent Weissman. “You’re not yet creating something for an audience. You’re just creating something that you like.”

Weissman recently edited a book called Our Story Begins: Your Favorite Authors and Illustrators Share Fun, Inspiring, and Occasionally Ridiculous Things They Wrote and Drew as Kids (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017). She got the idea for the collection after finding a box in her parents’ basement that was filled with her own childhood projects.

 

Max with children’s author Elissa Brent Weissman

Maxwell with Elissa Brent Weissman in Boston, Massachusetts

The book presents the work that Gordon Korman, Grace Lin, and Kwame Alexander, among others, did as kids. “Knowing the authors and artists they were to become,” Weissman told me recently in Boston, “you can see that little seed of [their future work] in almost every single person’s piece.”

 

“GO FOR IT”

Some of the contributors, including Brian Selznick, demonstrated extraordinary talent from a young age. Most of the others, however, wrote and drew just like typical kids.

“It shows that to become something you want to be, you don’t have to have that talent or that ability, or even know that that's what you want to do,” Weissman says. “What comes through . . . is hard work that paid off in the end to get these people where they are today.”

 

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

The cover of Weissman’s new book

Weissman’s own contribution to the book is the first chapter of a novel she wrote when she was in fifth grade. She did not succeed in having it published.

Since fifth grade, however, Weissman’s career has taken off. Her award-winning middle-grade novels include the Nerd Camp series (Olive Street Press). She encourages young people just to have fun when they write and draw. “Go for it,” she says. “Create things now, and don’t worry about what going to happen to them.”