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Candace Fleming

Scott Fleming

 Why did I write Clever Jack Takes the Cake? Mostly for fun, but also because I wanted to try my hand at writing a fairy tale. I do that a lot as a writer—challenge myself to try new things—and tackling a fairy tale was definitely a new thing. So how to begin? 

I knew I wanted my story to have a classical feel, incorporating such wonderfully delicious fairy-tale elements as four-and-twenty blackbirds, enchanted forests, and hairy trolls. On the other hand, I wanted it to be totally original, a story like no other. I began writing, and within a few weeks had a tale. But let me tell you a curious truth about writers—they are the stories they write, the fictions they spin. And when I read back what I had written, I realized I had created a fairy tale about . . . me. Weird, but true! The story is filled with my favorite things—journeys and birthdays and cake. The princess, taking after my son Scott, is allergic to strawberries. And Jack? Just like me, he good-naturedly follows life’s road, gathering experiences he can spin into tales.

Spinning experiences into tales is what I did with The Fabled Fifth Graders of Aesop Elementary School, too. I visit lots of school, and there’s nothing I like better than talking with kids, watching them in the lunchroom or on the playground, reading their essays and stories, listening to them tell jokes. And all the while I’m doing these things, I’m thinking about how I can use them in a book. Let me give you an example. A few years ago, I was visiting a school in Tennessee when a fifth-grade boy came up to me and said, “Look what I can do.” He stuck out his tongue, crossed his eyes and wiggled his ears – first the left one, and then the right one. I was impressed—but I hadn’t seen anything yet! Within seconds, the rest of the fifth graders surround me. Everyone, it seemed, had some special body trick to show me—double-jointed fingers and toes, eyelids that folded, lips that could be pulled up over noses, knuckles that cracked to the tune of “Yankee Doodle.” It was absurd and wonderful, and I knew I had to write about it. The result? Chapter five titled, “Hyper . . . Um . . . Hypermob . . . Um . . . Weird Body Tricks.”


Author Bookshelf

Imogene's Last Stand

By: Candace Fleming
illustrated by: Nancy Carpenter

Meet Imogene Tripp, a plucky girl with a passion for history. As a baby, her first words were “Four score and seven years ago.” In preschool, she finger-painted a map of the Oregon Trail. So it’s not...

Oh, No!

By: Candace Fleming
illustrated by: Eric Rohmann

"This picture book reads like an instant classic.... Oh, yes!" raved Kirkus Reviews in a starred review.

Young children will delight in repeating the refrain "OH, NO!" as one animal after another...

The Fabled Fifth Graders of Aesop Elementary School

By: Candace Fleming

In the sequel to The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School by award-winning author Candace Fleming, Mr. Jupiter's rambunctious students are fifth graders now . . . and they rule the school! Bernadette...


The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School

By: Candace Fleming

Here's a chapter book of contemporary fables about a rambunctious group of fourth graders and their amazing teacher—the globe-trotting, Mayan-ceremonial-robe-wearing Mr. Jupiter—that is sure to delight...

The Great and Only Barnum: The Tremendous, Stupendous Life of Showman P. T. Barnum

By: Candace Fleming
illustrated by: Ray Fenwick

Step right up! Meet the astounding . . . the amazing . . . P. T. Barnum!

The award-winning author of The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary, Amelia Lost, and Our Eleanor brings us...

The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary

By: Candace Fleming

The award-winning author of Ben Franklin’s Almanac and Our Eleanor has created an enthralling joint biography of our greatest president, Abraham Lincoln, and his complex wife—a scrapbook history...


Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart

By: Candace Fleming

From the acclaimed author of The Great and Only Barnum—as well as The Lincolns, Our Eleanor, and Ben Franklin's Almanac—comes the thrilling story of America's most celebrated flyer, Amelia Earhart.

In...

Clever Jack Takes the Cake

By: Candace Fleming
Illustrated by: G. Brian Karas

Take a bite out of this deliciously funny original fairy tale, which received four starred reviews and was named a Best Book of the Year by Booklist, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, and the Bank Street College of Education.

What...

Go Sleep in Your Own Bed

By: Candace Fleming
illustrated by: Lori Nichols

From bestselling, award-winning author Fleming and beloved illustrator of the Maple books Nichols comes a giggle-inducing read-aloud starring a cast of comically grumpy barnyard animals. Sure to become a bedtime favorite.
 
This funny...


On the Day I Died

By: Candace Fleming

"Positively tailor-made for reading—or reading aloud—by flashlight," declares Kirkus Reviews in a starred review.

The phenomenally versatile, award-winning author Candace Fleming gives teen and...

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia

By: Candace Fleming

“[A] superb history.... In these thrilling, highly readable pages, we meet Rasputin, the shaggy, lecherous mystic...; we visit the gilded ballrooms of the doomed aristocracy; and we pause in the sickroom of little Alexei, the hemophiliac heir who, with...

Ben Franklin's in My Bathroom!

By: Candace Fleming
illustrated by: Mark Fearing

History meets hijinks in this first title in a hilarious new middle grade series for fans of Timmy Failure and The Terrible Two, when Ben Franklin accidentally time travels to a 10-year-old's home in 21st century America!
 
Nolan...


Strongheart: Wonder Dog of the Silver Screen

By: Candace Fleming
illustrated by: Eric Rohmann

For fans of Balto and other real-life dog stories, here's a heavily illustrated middle-grade novel about a canine movie star of the 1920s, dramatically told in both words and pictures by an acclaimed author and a Caldecott Medal-winning...

The Amazing Collection of Joey Cornell: Based on the Childhood of a Great American Artist

By: Candace Fleming
illustrated by: Gérard DuBois

Award-winning and bestselling author Candace Fleming delivers a stunning picture-book based on the childhood of artist and sculptor Joseph Cornell, sure to beguile aspiring artists and collectors of all ages.

Joey...

Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All

By: M. T. Anderson, Candace Fleming, Stephanie Hemphill, Lisa Ann Sandell, Jennifer Donnelly, Linda Sue Park, Deborah Hopkinson

Page-turning historical fiction at its very best, illuminating the thrilling, sensational, and ultimately tragic lives of Henry VIII and his six wives, written by Newbery, Sibert, and National Book Award-winning YA luminaries Candace Fleming, M. T. Anderson,...