Hey, Wendy! First the Delany sisters and now this! Clearly, the best writers are old writers!
I was just reading Green Eggs and Ham with my 6-year-old son, and some questions came up about Dr. Seuss. So, we Googled him. I did not know that Theodore Geisel’s (aka: Dr. Seuss) career as the writer we know and love began after he was 50 years old! Yes, he did write before he was 50. But the whole Green Eggs and Ham phenom happened later.
Apparently, in May 1954, (he was born in 1904) Life magazine published a report on illiteracy among school children, which concluded that children were not learning to read because their books were boring. And so, an editor at Houghton Mifflin compiled a list of 348 words he felt were important for first-graders to recognize and asked Geisel to cut the list to 250 words and write a book using only those words. The editor challenged Geisel to “bring back a book children can’t put down.” And Cat in the Hat was born.
In 2000, Publishers Weekly compiled a list of the best-selling children’s books of all time; of the top 100 hardcover books, 16 were written by Geisel, including Green Eggs and Ham, at number 4, The Cat in the Hat at number 9, and One Fish Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish at number 13.
Another interesting tidbit? He did not win the Caldecott –or–the Newbery Medal.
Just goes to show you. You can be old. You can be a loser. But you can still have a whippin’ good career as a writer.