Many of you will associate Louis Sachar (b. March 20, 1954- ) with his most popular Newbery Award winning Holes. But I first got to know the writings of Louis Sachar when I read Sideways Stories from Wayside School. It was hilarious and absolutely a great read. I thought so, and so did Jim Trelease who championed this book in many of his speeches about great read aloud books. To say Sachar was an instant success would negate his many years of hard work honing his writing. During his studies at the University of California at Berkeley he had to find a 3 hour course to fill out his schedule and fortunately he learned about a volunteer school position that would give him three hours credit. Perfect -- and soon he was not only volunteering but working as the paid "yard supervisor." The students came to know him as Louis, the yard teacher. The children he met and one of the teachers, a Mrs. Jukes was a model for
patience and caring. So once Sachar graduated from Berkeley he took at job at a sweater factory in Connecticut. The job lasted for seven months -- but Sachar was writing the beginning of Sideways Stories from Wayside School. So when he ended his job he decided to go back to school -- law school. He had just begun law school when his book was accepted (1977). Six years later he had graduated law school, taken the bar, and had written a couple more books.
One story that I love is that his editor came to California. By this time Sachar was enjoying a large degree of popularity and his editor invited him to lunch but since she also had another author in the area she asked if she might include her in the lunch as well. The other author was Mavis Jukes - a great writer in her own right. It was then that a coincidence came to light. Ms. Jewels - the wonderful teacher who makes her appearance in Sachar's Sideways Stories from Wayside School was based largely on
that patient teacher he had met at the elementary school way back when he was "Louis, the Yard Teacher." That teacher, Mrs. Jukes, is Mavis Jukes mother. In fact, sometimes Mrs. Jukes gives out copies of Sachar's book -- because she is in it, a fact, that does not go unnoticed by her author daughter, Mavis Jukes.
Louis Sachar went on of course to write more block buster books. Holes was a National Book Award book and the Newbery Medal medal in 1999. The two lower pictures in this blog are pictures of Sachar as he is in the reception line and accepting the congratulations of the hundreds of attendees at the year's Newbery/Caldecott banquet. The red hat Sachar is wearing says "Camp Greenlake," a reference to the camp in his winning book, Holes.
His most recent book is The Cardturner which is described on his website as, "A novel about a king, a queen, and a joker. You can learn more about Sachar (including how a school visit played into his meeting his wife, Carla) by checking the reference sources below -- all of which contain more information about Sachar and his writing.
Louis Sachar and his family live in Austin, Texas.
Louis Sachar's Home Page (WEB) www.louissachar.comMcElmeel, Sharron L. 100 Most Popular Children's Authors. ABC/CLIO/Libraries Unlimited, 1999; pages 368-371.
McElmeel, Sharron L. Authors in the Kitchen: Recipes, Stories, and More. ABC/CLIO/Libraries Unlimited, 2005; pages 49-51.
Sharron L. McElmeel Papers, University of Iowa's Special Collections, Iowa City, Iowa.
for author visits