Paul Fleischman grew up in Santa Monica, California, in a house with a printing press, a grand piano, a shortwave radio, and his father-children's author Sid Fleischman. Playing recorder in early music consorts led to his books of verbal duets: I Am Phoenix, Joyful Noise (winner of the 1989 Newbery Medal), and Big Talk. His novels built from monologues include Bull Run, a sixteen-character account of the Civil War's first battle, and Seedfolks, the chronicle of the first year of a Cleveland community garden. His interest in theater inspired his young adult novels Mind's Eye, Seek, and Breakout, all of which revolve around the spoken word. His historical fiction includes Saturnalia and The Borning Room. He's written nonfiction and picture books as well, including Time Train, Weslandia, and Sidewalk Circus. Alongside the Newbery Medal, he's won a Newbery Honor Book, the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction, the PEN West Literary Award, the California Young Reader Medal, and most recently was a finalist for the 2003 National Book Award.