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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sid Fleischman (1920-2010)

Sid Fleischman, the Newberry Award-winning author of over 50 children's books and screenplays, died of cancer at his home in Santa Monica on 17 March, one day after his 90th birthday.

Albert Sidney Fleischman was born in Brooklyn, New York, on 16 March 1920, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants Reuben Fleischman and his wife Sadie (nee Solomon). Fleischman was raised in San Diego and, after leaving high school, began touring the country doing a magic act with a friend as the Mirthful Conjurers in vaudeville stage shows in night clubs between 1938-41. in 1939 he wrote his first book on magic, Between Cocktails, selling all rights for $50.

Fleischman served with the U.S. Naval Reserve as a yeoman on destroyer escorts in the Philippines, Borneo and China in 1941-45. In 1942, he married Betty Taylor, the couple having three children.

After the war, Fleischman began writing stories for pulp magazines. At the same time he attended San Diego State College, graduating in 1949, and began working as a reporter for the San Diego Daily Journal. A year later he became associate editor of Point magazine, a position he held until 1951 when he became a full-time writer following his first sale to Gold Medal. As A. S. Fleischman, he wrote hard-boiled crime novels before becoming a screenwriter, adapting his own novel for the 1955 movie Blood Alley starring John Wayne.

Mr Mysterious & Company, Fleischman's first children's book, was originally written for his own children and included his family as characters. His early novels for children were often coming of age stories; others included folklore and tall tales, particularly the McBroom series. The Whipping Boy, a rollicking adventure about a prince and his pauper companion and something of a departure from Fleischman's usual style, won the Newberry Medal in 1987. Fleischman's later novels covered ground as diverse as a parody of the old Wild West in Jim Ugly to the magical adventure of The 13th Floor. For younger children he wrote the Bloodhound Gang of mystery novels.

Fleischman wrote an autobiography aimed at his young readers, The Abracadabra Kid, and a number of non-fiction books over the years, mostly relating to magic and magic tricks but including a biography of Houdini, Escape!

Fleischman won a huge number of awards for his novels and an award, the Sid Fleischman Humor Award, was named for him by the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (of which he was a founding member), in 2003.

Fleischman was a popular author with the readers of The Children's Newspaper and Look and Learn, where his novels, usually abridged, appeared as serials, including "Mr Mysterious & Company" (Children's Newspaper, 1963), "By the Great Horn Spoon!" (Children's Newspaper, 1963-64), which was later filmed as Bullwhip Griffin, "Chancy and the Grand Rascal" (Look and Learn, 1967) and, for a second time, "Mr Mysterious & Company" (Look and Learn, 1969).

Official Website: Sid Fleischman.
Obituaries: School Library Journal (19 March); Los Angeles Times (21 March); New York Times (24 March).

PUBLICATIONS

Novels
The Straw Donkey Case. New York, Phoenix Press, 1948.
Murder's No Accident. New York, Phoenix Press, 1949.
Shanghai Flame. New York, Fawcett Gold Medal, 1951; London, F. Muller (Gold Medal 211), 1957.
Look behind You, Lady. New York, Fawcett Gold Medal, 1952, London, F. Muller (Gold Medal 15), 1953; as Chinese Crimson, London, Jenkins, 1962.
Danger in Paradise. New York, Fawcett Gold Medal, 1953; London, F. Muller (Gold Medal 63), 1954.
Counterspy Express. New York, Ace Books, 1954.
Malay Woman. New York, Fawcett Gold Medal, 1954, London, F. Miller (Gold Medal 76), 1955; as Malaya Manhunt, London, Jenkins, 1965.
Blood Alley. New York, Fawcett Gold Medal, 1955; London, F. Muller (Gold Medal 133), 1956.
Yellowleg. New York, Fawcett Gold Medal, 1960; London, F. Muller (Gold Medal 464), 1960.
The Venetian Blonde. New York, Fawcett Gold Medal, 1963; London, F. Muller (Gold Medal 713), 1964.

Novels for Children
Mr. Mysterious & Company
, illus. Eric von Schmidt. Boston, Little, Brown, 1962; London, Hutchinson, 1963.
By the Great Horn Spoon!, illus. Eric von Schmidt. Boston, Little, Brown, 1963; London, Hamish Hamilton, 1965; as Bullwhip Griffin, Harmondsworth, Puffin Books PS301, 1966; New York, Avon, 1967.
The Ghost in the Noonday Sun, illus. Warren Chappell. Boston, Little, Brown, 1965; illus. Peter Sis, New York, Greenwillow Books, 1989.
Chancy and the Grand Rascal, illus. Eric von Schmidt. Boston, Little, Brown, 1966; London, Hamish Hamilton, 1967.
Longbeard the Wizard, illus. Charles Bragg. Boston, Little, Brown, 1970.
Jingo Django, illus. Eric von Schmidt. Boston, Little, Brown, 1971; London, Hamish Hamilton, 1971.
The Wooden Cat Man, illus. Jay Yang. Boston, Little, Brown, 1972.
The Ghost on Saturday Night, illus. Eric von Schmidt. Boston, Little, Brown, 1974; Harmondsworth, Puffin Books, 1975; illus. Juliet Stanwell Smith, London, Heinemann, 1975; illus. Laura Cornell, New York, Greenwillow Books, 1997.
Kate's Secret Riddle Book. New York, F. Watts, 1977.
Me and the Man on the Moon-Eyed Horse, illus. Eric von Schmidt. Boston, Little, Brown, 1977; as The Man on the Moon-Eyed Horse, illus. Margaret Chamberlain, London, Gollancz, 1980.
Humbug Mountain, illus. Eric von Schmidt. Boston, Little, Brown, 1978; illus. Margaret Chamberlain, London, Gollancz, 1980.
Jim Bridger's Alarm Clock and Other Tall Tales, illus. Eric von Schmidt. New York, Dutton, 1978.
The Hey Hey Man, illus. Nadine Bernard Westcott. Boston, Little, Brown, 1979.
The Whipping Boy, illus. Peter Sis. New York, Greenwillow Books, 1986; London, Methuen Children's, 1988.
The Scarebird, illus. Peter Sis. New York, Greenwillow Books, 1988.
The Ghost in the Noonday Sun, illus. Peter Sis. New York, Greenwillow Books, 1989.
The Midnight Horse. New York, Greenwillow Books, 1990; London, Methuen Children's, 1991.
Jim Ugly, illus. Joseph A. Smith. New York, Greenwillow Books, 1992; London, Hamish Hamilton, 1993.
The 13th Floor. A ghost story, illus. Peter Sis. New York, Greenwillow Books, 1995.
Bandit's Moon, illus. Joseph A. Smith. New York, Greenwillow Books, 1998.
A Carnival of Animals, illus. Marylin Hafner. New York, Greenwillow Books, 2000.
Bo and Mzzz Mad. New York, Greenwillow Books, 2001.
Disappearing Act. New York, Greenwillow Books, 2003.
The Giant Rat of Sumatra; or, Pirates Galore. New York, Greenwillow Books, 2005; as Pirate's Galore, illus. John Hendrix, London, Catnip, 2007.
The White Elephant. New York, Greenwillow Books, 2006.
The Entertainer and the Dybbuk. New York, Greenwillow Books, 2007.

McBroom series
McBroom Tells the Truth, illus. Kurt Werth. New York, Norton, 1966, illus. Walter Lorraine, Boston, Little, Brown, 1981, illus. Amy Wummer, New York, Price Stern Sloan, 1998.
McBroom and the Big Wind, illus. Kurt Werth. New York, Norton, 1967, illus. Walter Lorraine. Boston, Little, Brown, 1982.
McBroom's Ear, illus. Kurt Werth. New York, Norton, 1969, illus. Walter Lorraine. Boston, Little, Brown, 1982.
McBroom's Ghost, illus. Robert Frankenberg. New York, Grosset, 1971, illus. Walter Lorraine. Boston, Little, Brown, 1981, illus. Amy Wummer, New York, Price Stern Sloan, 1998.
McBroom's Zoo, illus. Kurt Werth. New York, Grosset, 1972, illus. Walter Lorraine. Boston, Little, Brown, 1982.
McBroom's Wonderful One-Acre Farm (omnibus; contains McBroom Tells the Truth, McBroom and the Big Wind and McBroom's Ghost), illus. Quentin Blake, London, Chatto & Windus, 1972, New York, Greenwillow Books, 1992.
McBroom the Rainmaker, illus. Kurt Werth. New York, Grosset, 1973, illus. Walter Lorraine. Boston, Little, Brown, 1982, illus. Amy Wummer, New York, Price Stern Sloan, 1999.
McBroom Tells a Lie, illus. Walter Lorraine. Boston, Little, Brown, 1976, illus. Amy Wummer, New York, Price Stern Sloan, 1999.
Here Comes McBroom (omnibus; contains McBroom Tells a Lie, McBroom the Rainmaker and McBroom's Zoo), illus. Quentin Blake, London, Chatto & Windus, 1976, New York, Greenwillow Books, 1992.
McBroom and the Beanstalk, illus. Walter Lorraine. Boston, Little, Brown, 1978.
McBroom's Wonderful One-Acre Farm and Here Comes McBroom (omnibus) illus. Quentin Blake. Harmondsworth, Puffin Books, 1979.
McBroom and the Great Race, illus. Walter Lorraine. Boston, Little, Brown, 1980; illus. Quentin Blake, London, Chatto & Windus, 1981.
McBroom's Almanac, illus. Walter Lorraine. Boston, Little, Brown, 1984.

Bloodhound Gang series
The Bloodhound Gang in the Case of the Flying Clock, illus. William Harmuth. New York, Random House/ Children's Television Workshop, 1981.
The Bloodhound Gang in the Case of the Cackling Ghost, illus. Anthony Rao. New York, Random House, 1981.
The Bloodhound Gang in the Case of Princess Tomorrow, illus. Bill Morrison. New York, Random House, 1981.
The Bloodhound Gang in the Case of the Secret Message, illus. William Harmuth. New York, Random House, 1981.
The Bloodhound Gang's Secret Code Book, illus. Bill Morrison. New York, Random House, 1982.
The Bloodhound Gang in the Case of the 264-Pound Burglar, illus. Bill Morrison. New York, Random House, 1982.

Non-fiction
Between Cocktails. Colon, MI, Abbott Magic Company, 1939.
Magic Made Easy (as Carl March). New York, Croydon, 1953.
Mr. Mysterious's Secrets of Magic (nonfiction; for young readers), illus. Eric von Schmidt. Boston, Little, Brown, 1975, as Secrets of Magic: 21 tricks, London, Chatto & Windus, 1976.
The Charlatan's Handbook. Tahoma, CA, L & L Publishing, 1993.
The Abracadabra Kid. A writer's life (autobiography). New York, Greenwillow Books, 1996.
Escape!: The Story of the Great Houdini. New York, Greenwillow Books, 2006.
The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West. New York, Greewillow Books, 2008.
Sir Charlie: Chaplin, the Funniest Man in the World. New York, Greenwillow Books, 2010.

Screenplays
Blood Alley (based on the author's book of the same title), Batjac Productions, 1955.
Goodbye, My Lady (based on a novel by James Street), Batjac Productions, 1956.
Lafayette Escadrille, with William A. Wellman, Warner Bros., 1958.
The Deadly Companions (based on the author's novel Yellowleg), Carousel Productions, 1961.
Scalawag, with Albert Maltz, Byrna Productions, 1973.
The Whipping Boy (as Max Brindle; based on the author's book of the same title), Disney, 1994.

(* Our column header is the Puffin edition of Bullwhip Griffin, a tie-in to the Walt Disney movie featuring Roddy McDowall; the illustration, by Ron Embleton, is from Look and Learn, 20 May 1967, and is © Look and Learn Ltd.)

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