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Master of the Odd Detail

Author Richard Platt

When Stephen Biesty's publishers were looking for an author for Mr. Biesty's drawings, "they wanted one with a whacky verbal sense of humor," Richard Platt says. "That's why they picked me, really: because I have this fund of idiotic information!"

Such as? Moles burrow 18 feet an hour. France's Amiens Cathedral is so vast that everyone in the city could worship there when it was completed about 1270. Researching such details "takes a lot of legwork," Platt says. But "why do children deserve less diligent research than adults?"

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He says he can't remember people's names or telephone numbers, but all kinds of odd things come to mind when he needs them for his writing. He thinks of himself as an accompanist for a solo musician. An accompanist with a mischievous sense of humor.

Like Biesty, Platt tries to bring history to life. "What fleshes out history is not what George Washington did on a particular day," he says, "but what he had for breakfast."

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