A GRAIN OF WHEAT: A WRITER BEGINS by Clyde Robert Bulla (Godine: $10.95; 49 pp., age 8 and up). Rural life in the early 1900s was as sparse and clean as Clyde Bulla's writing, which here is as vivid as his "White Bird," "Shoeshine Girl" and "Indian Hill." In this short, elegant volume, he recalls childhood on his family's Missouri farm and how he decided to become a writer.
A long walk through pastures and woods brought him to a one-room schoolhouse with an iron stove and a tall green cupboard for a library. There he discovered that reading and writing were "a kind of magic . . . words were wonderful." In third grade, he submitted his story about a grain of wheat to the St. Joseph newspaper. When he won a dollar prize, his parents and sister didn't share his excitement, but he knew "no matter what anyone else might say, I was a writer."
Youngsters will find Bulla's memoir as warm and interesting as if they were with him at his kitchen table. "Tell us more," they might say, which is just the feeling that lingers after reading the last page. His talent has wrought more than 50 books and many awards, including the first Southern California Council on Children's Literature prize. He is worth listening to.