Almost as far back as he can remember, Clyde Robert Bulla wanted to write. Born on a farm in a small town in Missouri, Mr. Bulla's first school was a one-room country schoolhouse. One day his teacher asked each first grade student what he or she would do with a thousand dollars. Young Clyde answered that he would buy a table. His classmates laughed heartily, and his teacher was puzzled. “What I really meant,” says Mr. Bulla, “is a desk or other flat surface on which to write my stories!”
Mr. Bulla's first piece of writing was titled, “How Planets Were Born.” The ambitious opening sentence was, “One night old Mother Moon had a million babies.” All through school, Mr. Bulla continued to write stories mostly, but plays and poetry, too. After years of gathering editor's rejection slips, Mr. Bulla sold a magazine story, then several more. Soon after, Mr. Bulla wrote a novel and a publisher accepted it.
The Difficult Years
In the excitement of publishing a novel, Mr. Bulla wrote two more books. Unfortunately, no one wanted to publish them. His luck took a turn for the worse when the publisher of his first book went bankrupt. For several years, he worked at a local weekly newspaper where he struggled with linotype, kept books, collected bills, and wrote a weekly column.
A couple of Mr. Bulla's weekly columns caught the attention of a well-known author and illustrator of children's books. She wrote to Mr. Bulla, suggesting that he try writing a children's book. He immediately sent her a manuscript for a children's book he'd written a year before. Within one week, an editor of a New York publisher read the manuscript,and it was accepted. The book was The Donkey Cart, published in 1946. Since then, Mr. Bulla has written over twenty books for children, as well as the music for several children's song books.
About The Chalk Box Kid
“When I was young,” explains Mr. Bulla, “I sometimes found it hard to cope in new surroundings, and I was apt to get off on the wrong foot. This is the story of a boy who got off on the wrong foot in a new school and how he tried to cope.” In describing the chalk garden, Mr. Bulla says, “I gave Gregory something I've always wished for: a big, blank wall that I could cover with my own drawings.”