Looking at the World with Writer's Eyes

Real life experiences fuel author Leslie Bulion's stories

  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

Social worker, journalist, poet. These are just a few of the life experiences that Leslie Bulion, author of The Trouble with Rules, has had on her way to becoming a successful children's book author.

"I never thought I would be a writer," Bulion told the Scholastic Kids Press Corps in a recent interview. "I have always written poetry, but I did it for myself, not for other people. I never thought other people would actually want to read my writing." Little did she know!

Path to Publication

Bulion's first love and greatest joy is poetry. When she was around 10 years old, her fourth-grade teacher introduced her to writing poetry.

"Some of which rhymed and some of which didn't," Bulion said. She has since published several books of poems. "I like to write funny poetry and even a little bit disgusting poems about science."  

She describes her book Hey There, Stink Bug! as "beautifully illustrated collection of gruesome insect poetry."

Many of the things Bulion writes about are based on real-life personal experiences. In 1998, she and her daughter went on a trip to a marketplace in East Africa. Her travels gave her ideas for her first book, Fatuma's New Cloth.

"Always look at the world with writer's eyes," she advises other aspiring writers.
 
The Trouble With Rules was written because of her own experiences with having friends who were boys.

"All of a sudden they didn't want to be friends anymore," she said. That was something she also noticed when her daughters were young. "I would keep these ideas tucked away for someday when I would write a book."

"The potato incident" is another example of a real life experience showing up in Bulion's work. In The Trouble With Rules, the lead character Nadie has a gross encounter with a rotten potato. Bulion uses such descriptive words that readers feel like they, too, are covered in terrible, stinky, rotten potato ooze! The source for that episode, Bulion explained, was a meeting at a fellow writer's home.

"We found a rotten potato that had been overlooked for about a year in the back of a kitchen cupboard," Bulion said. "The smell was so awful that everyone tried to run away, screaming all the while to avoid being touched by the stinky mess. This, of course, resulted in utter chaos!"

Coming Up

Bulion is currently working on a book about an 11-year-old boy and his annoying 6-year-old sister.

Her latest collection of science poetry, Sea Floor Café, is scheduled for release this year. Sea Floor Café is about sea creatures and includes what the author calls "juicy science stories."

For more about Bulion and her work, check out her website.

Be sure to also check out Kid Reporter Lexi Cornell's review of The Trouble With Rules.

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Scholastic Kids Press Corps

The Scholastic Kids Press Corps is a team of 32 student reporters who report "news for kids, by kids." Sports, politics, and entertainment are among the topics they cover.