Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
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||determined, inkpad, abusive, deathbed, deception, staples, rebellion, longhand, passion, occupation, humorous, award-winning, writing, emotional, original, passionate
||Phyllis Naylor, West Virginia, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Great Depression, Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, Rex Naylor, In Shiloh, Newbery Medal, In The Bomb
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
By Colleen Messina
1 When Phyllis Naylor met a sick beagle on a woodland path, she had no idea that the encounter would inspire an award-winning book. She was visiting West Virginia, and she went for a walk with some friends. A shy, sick animal peered out at them from the deep woods with round, sad eyes. He eventually followed them home, and Phyllis nursed the dog back to health. Shiloh wheedled his way into Phyllis's heart and into the pages of her famous book by the same name.
2 Phyllis Reynolds Naylor says, "Writing is something I have been doing all my life." She was born on January 4, 1933, in Anderson, Indiana, and she grew up during the Great Depression. Naylor's family was poor, but they had a wealth of good books! Her parents read to her until she was in her teens, and her father did an especially good job of making books come to life. He would imitate the voices of the characters in Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer to make reading an exciting pastime for his children.
3 Each day, the future author rushed home from school to see if there was any paper in the trash. Her family had a rule that the kids had to use old paper for writing or drawing. Phyllis would staple the sheets together and paste a strip of colored paper over the staples so it looked like a bound book. She wrote her story on the top of the page and drew a picture on the bottom. Then, she pasted half an old envelope on the cover and put an index card inside, just like a library book. She said she was "the author, illustrator, printer, binder, and librarian, all in one."
4 Phyllis graduated from homemade books at age 16 when she started writing stories and poems for a church paper. She was encouraged by her former Sunday school teacher, and soon she began selling stories to popular magazines. She was married briefly when she was 18, but the marriage ended in divorce because of her husband's mental illness. Phyllis later used her experience with her husband to write an adult novel.
5 Perhaps Phyllis's desire to understand mental illness led her to earn a Bachelor's degree in clinical psychology. In between classes, she supported herself by writing stories. After graduation, she didn't pursue psychology because she knew that she wanted to be a full time writer.
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