Mr. Fleischman’s Wonderful McBroom

March 23, 2010 @ 8:00 am | Filed under:

Literary giant Sid Fleischman died on March 17th at the age of 90. I have loved his work since I was a little girl—the McBroom books are some of the first books I remember reading and rereading and howling over and collecting. Even today I can still rattle off a good WillJillHesterChesterPeterPollyTimTomMaryLarryandlittleClarinda!

The amiable Farmer McBroom’s surprising triumph over that lowdown dirty swindler, Heck Jones, who sold McBroom an 80-acre farm and after pocketing the cash revealed that the 80 acres were stacked one on top of another like pancakes—at the bottom of a pond, no less—is one of the most deeply satisfying events in print, period. (You remember the tale. Blistering Iowa heat dries up the pond, leaving an acre of soil so rich that seeds grow to maturity in minutes, and if you drop a nickel, it’ll be a quarter before you can bend over to pick it up.)

The McBroom books

McBroom’s Wonderful One-Acre Farm: Three Tall Tales
McBroom Tells the Truth
McBroom and the Big Wind
McBroom’s Ear
(Was this the one with the heat wave? So hot the corn was popping on the stalk?)

Here Comes McBroom: Three More Tall Tales
McBroom the Rainmaker
McBroom’s Ghost
McBroom’s Zoo (Sidehill Gougers! Teakettlers! Oh man, I loved this book.)

McBroom’s Almanac
McBroom Tells a Lie
McBroom and the Beanstalk
McBroom and the Great Race

Besides McBroom, my favorite Fleischman is By the Great Horn Spoon.

It was one of the first books I wrote about on this blog, back in early 2005:

I began reading this hilarious novel to the girls on a cold winter afternoon, but after Scott got caught up in the story during a coffee break, it became a family dinnertime read-aloud. At times, the kids laughed so hard I feared they would choke. We sailed with young Jack and his unflappable butler, Praiseworthy, from Boston Harbor all the way around Cape Horn and up to San Francisco. Along the way we visited Rio de Janeiro and a village in Peru. We panned for gold in California and made friends with half a dozen scruffy, optimistic miners. We found ourselves caring deeply about such oddities as rotting potatoes, dusty hair clippings, and the lining of a coat.

Caring about oddities, and making you care about them too—one of Sid Fleischman’s special geniuses.

Goodbye, Mr. Fleischman. We’ll miss you. Your imagination was as fertile as McBroom’s farm.

Memories of Sid Fleischman at Greenwillow Books (I especially loved the American Idol story).

Author Lisa Yee remembers Sid fondly in this touching post.

Lin Oliver’s moving tribute at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators site (Sid was a founding member of the SCBWI):

“In 2003, the SCBWI established an award in Sid’s honor, for humorous writing for children. We will continue to honor his legacy by granting the Sid Fleischman Award to one deserving book each year.  Sid was a great writer, a great friend, a great mentor to us all. His loss will be felt by all of SCBWI for a long time, but his work and his memory will survive.

Related post: Hoppers.

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10 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. stephanie says:

    I COMPLETELY forgot about McBroom! Thanks for the reminder … and I’m off to reserve one of those books to read-aloud to my girls.

  2. Rebecca says:

    What a brilliant writer he was.

    My first and, therefore, favourite Fleischman book is The Whipping Boy.

    Thanks for this tribute, Melissa.

  3. Lindsay says:

    Yes, echoing Stephanie, I haven’t thought about those books in years, but I LOVED them as a child. What a lovely tribute and good reminder!

  4. Elizabeth C. says:

    I now have the author study for my 5 year old for when we hit the M trail in our Alphabet Path studies…

    Thanks for the McBroom reminder.

  5. Penny in VT says:

    McBroom arrived last week – can’t wait to dig in. Thank you for letting me (us) know of his passing, I will think of him often, and with gratitude, as we discover these wonderful books. We’ve read others of his work, of course, but I suspect this series will be something very special for us all.

  6. Kay says:

    Oh my!! Missed the news of his passing. We are reading.. The Trouble Begins at 8, hisbiography of Mark Twain. A tribute now to two wonderful men.

  7. Tabatha says:

    Loved Mr. Fleischman’s books when I was a child! I bought an audio book of By the Great Horn Spoon for us to listen to this summer on vacation. Looking forward to it! Thank you for sharing this.

  8. Ana Braga-Henebry says:

    Thanks, Melissa–not having grown up in the USA I missed out on old kids’ books… just put some of these on hold! Happy Easter!

  9. Sandra Dodd says:

    Schuyler Waynforth just mentioned the one-acre farm book at Always Learning, in a thread about what happens if you dig a hole in your back yard!

  10. Melissa Wiley says:

    Ooh, fun! I haven’t caught up on my reading there today. 🙂 Schuyler always has interesting things to say!