March 20 - Happy Birthday, Louis Sachar

Posted on March 20, 2018

Who on Earth could imagine creating a story that ties together:

A tale set in the 1800s, somewhere in Europe, about a young man trying to win the hand of the girl he loves - and a curse!

A story set in the late 1800s, in the American west, about a (white) schoolteacher who falls in love with a handy (African American) onion merchant - and the violence that ruins their lives, creates another curse - no rain! - and turns a law-abiding woman into an infamous outlaw.

The tale of a modern-day family with really bad luck; the  father is an inventor trying to create a product that will cure foot odor; the son is in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The story of a family that lives in a bone-dry desert; they have been digging in that desert for buried treasure for years; once she's an adult, the daughter starts a juvenile corrections facility where the young inmates have to dig a hole each day.

You probably recognize the plot of Holes, which made a big splash as a novel and as a Disney movie. Author Louis Sachar wove together all of these stories, along with a miraculous survival story, spicy canned peaches and onions, an athlete with very stinky feet, extremely deadly lizards, a homeless boy's theft, and a wonderfully happy ending of broken curses, family reunited, the discovery of a fortune, and a successful invention (patent pending)!

Louis Sachar didn't set out to be a children's author. He was born on this date in 1954, in upstate New York, and went to college to get a degree in Economics. While attending UC Berkeley, he began to help out in a local elementary school in exchange for college credit. He really enjoyed it. He helped out in a classroom and also became Louis the Yard Teacher (as the kids called him).

When he graduated from university, Sachar started working a regular job, at a warehouse, but he also began writing a story about a really crazy elementary school: Sideways Stories from Wayside School

At first nobody was promoting his book, and it wasn't selling very well. Sachar decided to go to law school, and while he did that, word-of-mouth about his subversive and funny Wayside School book began to spread. 

By the time Sachar graduated from law school, he had a fans! 

Sachar was able do legal work part time and write part time, and soon he was able to write full time.

The Econ major / law school graduate had become a children's literature icon!


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