Essays & Articles

Some Lovely Letters from Teachers

April 23, 2015 by Adam in Blog
Below are some of the letters I've received from teachers that inspire me to keep writing: -- Okay, this teacher hates me, but I think she hates me in the best possible way:   Dear Mr. Gidwitz,   I would like to offer my professional review of your novel, A Tale Dark and Grimm. For the past four years I have read the novel aloud to my sixth grade reading class. I...

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Listen to Adam on Air!

October 20, 2014 by Adam in Blog
Be sure to tune in and hear Adam chat it up on the radio! Some segments have yet to air but as soon as they do, we'll provide the link below! 10/29 - NHPR - Word of Mouth: ; 10/30 - Kaxe Radio, hosts Maggie Montgomery and Robert...

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In Defense of Real Fairytales

October 19, 2014 by Adam in Blog
This essay, first published in The Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy Blog, is for any librarian, teacher, administrator, or parent who is a little…well… hesitant to share the real Grimm with their children.   An email arrived in my inbox recently. I was in the midst of planning a visit to a rural elementary school to share “A Tale Dark and Grimm,” my adaptation of Grimm’s...

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On Children, Imagination, and Our Busy Lives

August 28, 2014 by Adam in Blog
When I was thirteen years old, an author came to my school. I remember nothing about her. Nothing, that is, except her answer to one question: “How do you know if you’re a writer?”   She paused, wrinkling her brow. Then she said, “Writers write.”   I was floored. The absolute tautological truth of the statement appealed to my adolescent mind as the highest form of...

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Put Your Mother on the Ceiling: Imagination, Reading and Play

July 19, 2014 by Adam in Blog
When I was younger, this was my life:   Me, in my room, playing with action figures—little plastic dudes with masks and guns and grappling hooks. I’d take two in my hands. The bad guy would come up to the good guy and say something insulting. The good guy wasn’t going to stand for it, and he’d say so. The bad guy’d take a swing at the good guy. And from there they’d just...

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Tears Into Blood

April 5, 2014 by Adam in Blog
Fairy tales turn tears into blood. This is why I write them. Yes, I write them because they are so funny and weird and beautiful. And because they make children clasp their hands together and stare at you so hard you think they might fall over. But I also write them because they turn tears into blood.What do I mean? Think of a difficult emotional situation. Say, you feel your father doesn’t...

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Why Do I Write Fairy Tales If They’re So Bloody?

March 21, 2014 by Adam in Blog
Why fairy tales? Fairy tales have endured because they speak to the deepest hopes, fears, and needs of children. Fairy tales speak of wolves, and children see their fears personified. Fairy tales speak of step-mothers, and children see the dark sides of their parents. Fairy tales speak of heroes, and children see everything that they want to become.   These days we have a new raft of...

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G.K. Chesterton’s The Dragon’s Grandmother

February 12, 2014 by Adam in Blog
Chesterton's idiosyncratic but totally brilliant defense of fairy tales. You want to read this: "The man I speak of disbelieved in fairy tales in an even more amazing and perverted sense. He actually thought that fairy tales ought not to be told to children. That is (like a belief in slavery or annexation) one of those intellectual errors which lie very near to ordinary mortal sins." Click the...

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Show Don’t Tell, and Other Literary Conventions That Deserve To Be Flouted

December 10, 2013 by Adam in Blog
There is a sacred cow in the world of writing, and, when we are not milking it and taking it for granted, we refer to this holy bovine as "Show don't tell."   If we did not worship this cow, but rather went and got milk from it when we wanted to, it would be a beautiful and useful cow. To say, "It was cold outside," is frequently not as good as, "Jerry went and got his thick goosedown...

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One Crucial Criterion for a Good Book

November 2, 2013 by Adam in Blog
I have a theory that the more imagination a book requires, the better the book typically is.   In adult fiction, the airport page-turners generally tell you everything you need to know, and everything you want to know. You don’t have to spend much time puzzling out motivations or deeper meanings; the authors tells you. You also don’t generally spend a lot of time thinking about...

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October 21, 2013 by Adam in Blog
This is neither about children's literature nor literature in general. I was just thinking about that hair-brained sport called skiing. First of all, having two i's in a row like that is just ridiculous looking. At least give it an apostrophe, like Hawai'i. But worse, if I wanted to fall down a mountain with sticks tied to my feet, I certainly wouldn't do it in the...

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Seamus Heaney Explains Why I Write

September 7, 2013 by Adam in Blog
Many great writers have written "Why I Write" pieces. None distills my own motivations, though, as well as Seamus Heaney in his poem "Personal Helicon":   As a child, they could not keep me from wells And old pumps with buckets and windlasses. I loved the dark drop, the trapped sky, the smells Of waterweed, fungus and dank moss.   One, in a brickyard, with a rotted board...

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