Into a memoir that is gripping, funny, heartbreaking, and unforgettable, Walter Dean Myers richly weaves the details of his Harlem childhood in the 1940s and 1950s: a loving home life with his adopted parents, Bible school, street games, and the vitality of his neighborhood. Although Walter spent much of his time either getting into trouble or on the basketball court, secretly he was a voracious reader and an aspiring writer. But as his prospects for a successful future diminished, the values he had been taught at home, in school, and in his community seemed worthless, and he turned to the streets and his books for comfort. Here in his own words is the story of one of the strongest voices in children's and young adult literature today.
Walter Dean Myers was born on August 12, 1937 in Martinsberg, West Virginia. When he was three years old, his mother died and his father sent him to live with Herbert and Florence Dean in Harlem, New York. He began writing stories while in his teens. He dropped out of high school and enlisted in the Army at the age of 17. After completing his army service, he took a construction job and continued to write. He entered and won a 1969 contest sponsored by the Council on Interracial Books for Children, which led to the publication of his first book, Where Does the Day Go? During his lifetime, he wrote more than 100 fiction and nonfiction books for children and young adults. His works include Fallen Angels, Bad Boy, Darius and Twig, Scorpions, Lockdown, Sunrise Over Fallujah, Invasion, Juba!, and On a Clear Day. He also collaborated with his son Christopher, an artist, on a number of picture books for young readers including We Are America: A Tribute from the Heart and Harlem, which received a Caldecott Honor Award, as well as the teen novel Autobiography of My Dead Brother. He was the winner of the first-ever Michael L. Printz Award for Monster, the first recipient of the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement, and a recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults. He also won the Coretta Scott King Award for African American authors five times. He died on July 1, 2014, following a brief illness, at the age of 76.