The St. Louis Post Dispatch carries the news of the death of Fredrick McKissack. Mr. McKissack co-authored many books with his wife, Patricia McKissack. According to the article, he also helped with research on books that did not bear his name as well.
Fredrick McKissack died on Sunday at the age of 73. Together with his wife, they wrote more than 100 books for children and adults many of which focused on African-Americans and civil rights.
E.L. Konigsburg, the author of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, died on Friday at the age of 83. Konigsburg is one of only five authors to have won the Newbery Medal twice, once for From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and once for The View from Saturday.
Additionally, she received a Newbery Honor for Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley and Me, Elizabeth, in the same year she won her first Newbery Medal. That made her the only person to have received a Newbery Medal and Honor in the same year. She also holds the record for the longest span between two Newbery Awards with her first medal in 1968 and her second in 1997, 29 years later.
Jan Ormerod died of cancer at age 66 on January 23, 2013. Born in Australia, she later made her home in Cambridge, England. She is the author and illustrator of many picture books. For a very personal obituary, head over to The Guardian where Morag Styles has captured the life of her friend.
Nina Bawden has died at age 87. She was the author of book for both adults and children. The one I know best is Carrie’s War which is tells the story of children evacuated to Wales during World War II. As I’m thinking about it now, I think I saw it on Masterpiece Theater rather than having read it. I loved the program.
And I love the description in the Chicago Tribune article of Bawden:
Lennie Goodings, Bawden’s publisher at Virago, called the author "gently fierce" and a "wickedly funny woman.
Sounds like someone I would have loved to meet.
Author of one of my favorite children’s books of my childhood, The Pushcart War, Jean Merrill has died at age 89. The Pushcart War was a breakfast-table book for my family. I believe we read it at least twice during breakfast, as my mother’s strategy to keep us from fighting while waiting for the bus.
Merrill wrote more than 30 books for children, though this is the only one that I’ve read. I’d recommend it as a great book to share with the generation of Occupy Wall Street.
What a tragic year it has been for deaths of children’s literature greats.
Mahy died at age 76 after a short illness. She was the author of over 200 books ranging from the silliest of picture books to some of the darkest of teen reads. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages. From New Zealand, Mahy did not get published until an American editor launched her career.
When I was in graduate school for Library Science, Mahy’s novel, The Changeover, was one of the first books I read for a children’s literature class. It was eye-opening for me to read a book as an adult that was written for teens. I found them just as captivating, wondrous and magical as I had as a teen. Part of that, I know, is that it was Mahy.
Then I discovered the lighter side of Mahy’s writing with her silly pirates and zany antics. That she could span such very different ages and subjects with such skill was astounding to me. Both were risks, some may have seemed too dark and others too silly and wild. But for me, they were both wonderful and just right.
If you haven’t read any Mahy, I’d encourage you start where I did, with The Changeover. Make sure to follow it up with one of her silly picture books for dessert.
Ray Bradbury has died at age 91 in Los Angeles. I have vivid memories of discovering and devouring Bradbury short stories over the summer as a young teen. I read every book I could get my hands on by Bradbury, starting first with Fahrenheit 451 and Something Wicked This Way Comes, and then moving into his short stories, which I enjoyed far more than his novels. Each story was a world in itself, a place to visit briefly, to immerse oneself in and be transported. They were stories that were meant to dazzle, amaze and shock.
I can’t think of a better way to spend a hot summer day than some shade, a cool drink and a new Bradbury short story.
It seems to be a season for losses in the children’s book field. Author Ellen Levine has died at the age of 73 from lung cancer. Her children’s books focused on historical fiction about immigrants and minorities.
Her Henry’s Freedom Box from 2007 received a Caldecott Honor for Kadir Nelson’s artwork.
Tor.com is carrying the sad news of the death of Leo Dillon, half of the duo of Leo and Diane Dillon, the amazing husband and wife artists that create such detailed, emotive works. Their work celebrates diversity, dreams and design. They are magical, haunting and powerful.
The pair won two consecutive Caldecott Medals for Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears and Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions. They also work on book covers as well as children’s picture books. If you read science fiction and fantasy, you will recognize their art.