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Arlington author highlights diverse classics for children

Would you like to dance through the streets of Harlem with Langston Hughes? Shout “Land HO!” with the crew of Melville’s ship?

Sheila CordnerSheila Cordner

Or perhaps you’re eager to climb the hills of Sui Sin Far’s San Francisco to a Dragon Boat Festival.

Children will be able to experience all of these adventures when Arlington author Sheila Cordner’s Who’s Hiding in This Book? Meet 10 Famous Authors arrives in bookstores and on Amazon on Nov. 15.

Preorders are available through

In creating this book, Cordner, a published Boston University literature professor, says she means to extend her love of the classics to children.

Here is a conversation with the author about her book and the writing process. Asking questions is Charlotte Pierce, publisher of, an Arlington resident and a member of Independent Publishers of New England:

What sets this book apart from other children’s picture books?

I wanted to take young readers on an educational journey across the globe, and as they follow the lives of 10 accomplished, diverse authors, let them discover the actual works of literature these authors have created. I actually haven’t seen other children's picture books with exactly this approach.

What was your process for choosing the authors you feature in the book?

The classics captivated me as a student and led me to my career as literature professor. By choosing a diverse group of writers, I wanted the book to pave the way for a lifetime of appreciating classic books. My hope is that someday, authors like Sui Sin Far, Taha Hussein, María Amparo Ruiz de Burton, Zitkála-Šá and Langston Hughes will be as recognizable by their last names as authors like Thoreau, Woolf, Wharton, Dickinson and Melville. Who's Hiding in this Book?

How do you get children interested in these great literary classics?

This book is loosely for ages 4 through 9, but I feel strongly that we are never too young -- or too old -- to appreciate great literature. I intentionally made the book interactive. I also worked on making the pacing flow from author to author, and I took care to put the language in a form that children could understand, whether they are having it read to them or reading it themselves in the upper age range.

How should parents, caregivers and teachers present this book to young readers?

My own and my friends' children just enjoy reading or hearing the story read to them. Then, for parents and educators, I provide a section with background information, bibliography, and suggested discussion topics and vocabulary for children, as well as a link to my website (, where I’ll be uploading new activities and featuring additional classic authors. Children really enjoy the book's “Become an Author” activity page where they can come up with ideas for their very own books. And I'm excited to develop a curriculum and lesson plan so teachers can use the book in their classrooms. 

This news announcement was published Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. 

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