Paula Danziger:
sdrawkcab gnitirw

A rambling by Tom Knapp,
November 1989

When students at Lincoln Junior High School in Lancaster, Pa., got a well-known children's author to sign copies of her books, some of the inscriptions read "regiznaD aluaP." That's because Paula Danziger, author of books like The Cat Ate My Gymsuit, The Pistachio Prescription and It's an Aardvark-Eat-Turtle World, often writes backwards.

Danziger suffered damage to the left side of her brain in a car accident several years ago. Because of the injury, she could only write backwards for some time after the accident. Although, through therapy, she relearned her writing skills, she never lost the ability for reverse script.

That story was one the author used to illustrate for students at the junior high school their ability to overcome the odds and be what they want to be. During an assembly before about 500 7th-, 8th- and 9th-grade students and a classroom workshop with about 35 students, Danziger encouraged the teenagers to pursue their goals.

"She related very well to kids," said Jane Pelland, assistant to the superintendent for foundations and partnerships in the School District of Lancaster. "She tried to explain that they should do what they wanted" with their career plans.

Discouraged from writing, Danziger went into other occupations, including teaching for a period. But eventually she tried her hand at writing and turned into a success. "She really believed in it, and it was what she did best," Pelland said.

About 75 students received books by Danziger signed by the author during an afternoon autograph session. Pelland said Danziger signed books backwards or forwards, depending on each student's preference. Later, Danziger met with district parents, whom she urged to encourage their children to read by reading themselves.

[ by Tom Knapp ]

Click on a cover to buy it from