Allison's Book Bag

She’s Written More Than Eighty Books!

Posted on: October 18, 2013

MarionBauerThe author of more than eighty books, Marion Bauer was born in a four-room frame house in the shadow of a cement mill at the edge of a small northern-Illinois town. Her father was a chemist at the mill, so throughout her childhood, the dusty mill filled Bauer’s world. Her mother loved children and showered both Bauer and her older brother with love.

How I loved it all! The huffing, banging trains delivering coal and carrying away cement. The deep-bellied whistles from the mill itself, announcing that my father would soon come walking home. The wide green yard, the luxuriant woods that took up where the yard left off, even the column of smoke that puffed across my sky from the tall stack.

–Marion Bauer, About the Author

Because she began kindergarten at age four, Bauer was younger than most of her classmates, which put her at a disadvantage in social skills. It also didn’t help Bauer that her mother sent her to school wearing velvet bonnets and high-topped leather shoes. By first grade, her classmates began to notice the attire, causing Bauer to fall in their esteem. As the years passed, it also became clear that she was a nerd, which further made her an outsider. Although Bauer got along well with her teachers, they viewed her as a dreamy child.

Such an experience, while certainly painful, seems to have the capacity to open a door between adult existence and childhood that is more usually left closed. It gives us direct access to a world that most people learn to forget as they move into maturity. And perhaps it gives us a need to return to childhood to fix whatever went wrong the first time around.

–Marion Bauer, About the Author

Her teen years proved to be better, because Bauer joined the yearbook staff. There, she received recognition for her specific skills, and started to thrive as an individual. After graduating, she attended the University of Missouri, with the intention of getting a journalism degree.

Finding that this kind of writing didn’t suit her, she switched to a program that would permit her to teach English. She also married Ronald Bauer, who was preparing to become an Episcopal priest. Besides having two children, they also raised foster children and welcomed exchange students and lots of pets into their home.

About this time, Bauer also decided it was time to become serious about writing. Bauer explains at Author Turf that she was “born with my head full of stories” and so it didn’t take her long to figure out that she wanted to write stories someday. During a college writing class, she wrote a brief description of a memory from her childhood about standing in bare feet on a sunny sidewalk and then stepping into the cool grass of my back yard. That description “came alive for me in a way that nothing else I had ever written had done” helping her realize that childhood was her topic.

After an early failed attempt at writing picture books, Bauer stumbled onto writing realistic juvenile novels and once again knew what she wanted to do. Since then, she has written more than eighty books ranging from board books and picture books through easy readers to middle-grade and young-adult novels. I’ll review her 1987 title On My Honor, which won the Newbery Honor, this weekend.

Now my life is defined, in every way, by my writing. After twenty-eight years, I left my marriage, but that only made the writing more urgent . . . my means of support as well as my passion.

–Marion Bauer, About the Author

Besides writing a guide for children on the craft, Bauer also helped found the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. When asked by Author Turf what she’d like her life to look like in ten years, Bauer replied to be still healthy and to be still writing.

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