As a child I clung to books as a lifeboat from loneliness. I can remember distinct times in my life I considered certain books not just an entertaining diversion, but an extra appendage. I recall wandering the streets of Oxnard, CA with my family, clinging to the Sweet Valley High book, The Ghost of Tricia Martin. There, of course, was the long period of time that I brought Paul Zindel’s The Pigman to every family outing. And there was the stretch that involved me clinging, tears a-flowing, to A Dog Called Kitty by Bill Wallace.
Bill Wallace died last night, January 30, 2012, at the age of sixty-four after struggling with lung cancer. Wallace was a prolific Oklahoman children’s writer, he published thirty-one children’s books for various ages and co-authored seven books with his wife, Carol Wallace.
There are a lot of things that I could say about Wallace: he was a teacher, that he is the recipient of twenty state children’s choice awards, that he became a writer by accident (in order to quiet his fourth grade class he started telling them stories, these would eventually become his books). There are many beautiful things to learn about Bill Wallace.
There is a deep sense of loss that comes with learning that someone who so profoundly changed your love of reading has passed. Bill Wallace’s books taught me the basic fundamentals of being a great storyteller. He was an exceptionally honest with his audience. The honesty and poignancy of his writing allowed me, at a young age, to visit Oklahoma, and cope with the loss of a beloved pet. His writing was a solace to me during the dark times of isolation, and his impact on the accessibility of writing for youth has stayed with me as an adult.
To learn ore about his work and impact please check out: