Shh! We'Re Writing the Constitution

By Fritz, Jean

"The question I am most often asked," Jean Fritz says, "is how do I find my ideas? The answer is: I don't. Ideas find me. A character in history will suddenly step right out of the past and demand a book. Generally people don't bother to speak to me unless there's a good chance that I'll take them on." Throughout almost four decades of writing about history, Jean Fritz has taken on plenty of people, starting with George Washington in The Cabin Faced West (1958). Since then, her refreshingly informal historical biographies for children have been widely acclaimed as "unconventional," "good-humored," "witty," "irrepressible," and "extraordinary."

In her role as biographer, Jean Fritz attempts to uncover the adventures and personalities behind each character she researches. "Once my character and I have reached an understanding," she explains, "then I begin the detective work--reading old books, old letters, old newspapers, and visiting the places where my subject lived. Often I turn up surprises and of course I pass these on." It is her penchant for making distant historical figures seem real that brings the characters to life and makes the biographies entertaining, informative, and filled with natural child appeal.

An original and lively thinker, as well as an inspiration to children and adults, Jean Fritz is undeniably a master of her craft. She was awarded the Regina Medal by the Catholic Library Association, presented with the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award by the American Library Association for her "substantial and lasting contribution to children's literature," and honored with the Knickerbocker Award for Juvenile Literature, which was presented by the New York State Library Association for her body of work.

copyright ? 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

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