Candace Fleming has always been a storyteller. As a preschooler, she told neighbors all about her three-legged cat named Spot, and in kindergarten, she told classmates about the ghost living in her attic. Her parents encouraged these stories, and, once Fleming could write, she filled notebooks with her stories, plays, and poems. As a children's and young adult author, her fiction titles — books like The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary and Tippy-Tippy-Tippy, Hide! — are known for their lively humor, while her non-fiction titles — Our Eleanor and The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary — are praised for making history come alive for young readers.
You can watch the interview below, view the interview transcript, read a short biography on Candace Fleming, or see a selected list of her children's books. (This video is also available on YouTube and iTunes.)
In second grade, Fleming discovered a passion for language. She can still remember the day her teacher, Miss Johnson, held up a horn-shaped basket filled with papier-mache pumpkins and asked the class to repeat the word "cornucopia." She said it again and again, tasted the word on my lips, testing it on her ears. That afternoon, she skipped all the way home from school chanting, "Cornucopia! Cornucopia!" From then on, she really began listening to words — to the sounds they made, and the way they were used, and how they made me feel. I longed to put them together in ways that were beautiful, and yet told a story.
As she got older, Fleming continued to write stories, but she never really thought of becoming an author. Instead, she went to college where I discovered yet another passion — history. She didn't realize it then, but studying history is really just an extension of her love of stories. After all, some of the best stories are true ones — tales of heroism and villainy made more incredible by the fact they really happened.
After graduation, Fleming married and had children. She read to her children a lot, and that's when she discovered the joy and music of children's books. She simply couldn't get enough of them. With her two sons in tow, she made endless trips to the library, and she read stacks of books. When she found herself begging, "Just one more, pleeeeease!" while my boys begged for lights-out and sleep, it struck her. Why not write children's books? It seemed the perfect way to combine all the things she loved: stories, musical language, history, and reading.
Fleming is the critically acclaimed author of lively fiction for younger children, titles like Muncha!, Muncha!, Muncha! and The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary, as well as non-fiction titles like Our Eleanor and The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary.
Fleming lives with her family in suburban Chicago.