Among those titles by Marilyn Sachs, titles that are really too good to have missed are:
The Bear's House -- a story about 4th grader, Fran Ellen Smith, who is smelly and a thumb-sucker and who struggles to survive in her fatherless home, where she and her siblings struggle to survive without assistance from their mentally ill mother. The classroom's play house -- the Bear's House-- provides a degree of refuge for her.
A Pocketful of Seeds tells the story of a young girl who must flee from the Nazis during WWII. The story is a story of coping when she, her sister, and her parents are captured and sent to a concentration camp.
Every time I think of Marilyn Sachs I think of how gracious she was and how wonderful that entire first conference was. I loved the entire day.
And I think of two stories that somehow bring a smile to my memories.
The first one involves A Pocketful of Seeds. An intermediate reader had checked that title out of the library and had failed to return it. We sent overdue notices with no response. So in a last ditch effort, I made a call to his home to ask the parents to please take a look around for the book. The mother literally yelled at me. Her son would NEVER check out a book about gardening. He did not even like plants. Obviously the library records were wrong and please stop bothering her. Well, okay. I knew there was not going to be any success with persisting on that route. Shortly after that the family moved to a small town about 20 miles from our larger city and the child moved schools. About 4 weeks later, a plain brown envelope arrived in the mail. The post mark was from that small town. Inside the envelope was the missing book, A Pocketful of Seeds. No note, no apology - just the book, but at least the family returned the book. I always wondered if the mother took a look at the book and realized what the content really was all about.
The second story is about Sach's book Matt's Mitt (1975). The book had arrived in our library and looked very strange. The book jacket was brightly colored but the illustration (by Hilary Knight) just seemed to be two-thirds or so of the height that it should be. The bottom half of the book was fully illustrated but the top 1/2 - 1/3 of the cover was solid white. The original Library of Congress entry lists the book as being 20 x 24 cm.which would be about 7.9 inches x 9.4 inches. That was the size of the illustration but not of the book itself. Clearly someone had changed their mind mid-publication.
Marilyn went on to write many other wonderful intermediate aged books and continues to live with her family in the San Francisco area.
Marilyn Sach's Home Page (WEB) www.marilynsachs.com
Marilyn Sach's Blog on Red Room: Where the Writers are (WEB) redroom.com/member/marilyn-sachs/blog
Sharron L. McElmeel Papers, University of Iowa's Special Collections, Iowa City, Iowa.
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