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Obituaries

Death notices and remembrances of children's-book people.

Patricia C. McKissack (1944–2017)

The death of Patricia McKissack earlier this week at age 72, four years after the death of her husband and frequent collaborator Fredrick, is a huge loss to the children’s literature community. Their son Fredrick Jr.’s description is heart-achingly poignant: “In a way, I think my mother died of a broken heart.” In Roger’s review […]

Paula Fox (1923–2017)

We were saddened to hear about the death of Paula Fox. The author, a novelist of uncommon insight into the human condition, died March 1, 2017, in Brooklyn, New York. She was ninety-three. In addition to her adult novels, she wrote more than twenty books for young people, including One-Eyed Cat, a 1985 Newbery Honor […]

Nancy Willard (1936–2017)

We were sad to hear about the death of Nancy Willard. Willard, whose 1981 book of poetry A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers broke ground by winning both the Newbery Medal and a Caldecott Honor (for Alice and Martin Provensen) in the same year, died February 19, 2017, in […]

Judith Ortiz Cofer and Marilyn Sachs

We were sad to hear about the deaths, just before the New Year, of Judith Ortiz Cofer (1952-2016) and Marilyn Sachs (1927-2016), two of children’s literature’s Great Ladies. Cofer’s 1995 linked short story collection An Island Like You: Stories of the Barrio was a touchstone work in children’s books: “A milestone in multicultural publishing for […]

Natalie Babbitt, 1932–2016

Beloved author and illustrator Natalie Babbitt died this past Monday; she had been recently diagnosed with lung cancer. She gave the children’s book world immeasurable gifts — her books. In the New York Times obituary, her husband, Samuel Fisher Babbitt, described her as a remarkable woman “who left her mark in the literary world with her […]

Anna Dewdney, 1965-2016

We were very sad to hear about the untimely passing of Anna Dewdney, creator of the Llama Llama books. Here is her wonderful Fostering Lifelong Learners conference speech delivered in 2013 at the Cambridge Public Library in Massachusetts. “By reading with a child, you are teaching that child to be human…”

RIP Lois Duncan

I was sorry to hear about Lois Duncan’s death yesterday. Lois had been writing for young people for a long time–her first novel, Debutante Hill, was published in 1958 (and republished in 2013 by Lizzie Skurnick Books). She is someone whose work I always point towards as a reminder that YA fiction did not begin […]

Peter Dickinson, 1927-2015

One-of-a-kind British writer Peter Dickinson died in December at age eighty-eight. His work cannot be easily categorized: a prolific author, he wrote everything from adult detective novels to speculative YA science fiction to heart-stopping adventures to intriguing almost-fantasies. The protagonists in his work for children range from an American-missionary boy who finds himself trekking through […]

Always: remembering Alan Rickman

Just a few days ago, the Goblin King passed. While Bowie the Artist never really had much of an impact on my life, Bowie the Goblin King certainly did. As a child, Labyrinth in equal parts delighted and terrified me. I watched it over and over, always hiding my face when the fire creature things […]

Vera B. Williams (1927–2015)

We were saddened to hear about the death last week of legendary children’s book author and illustrator Vera B. Williams. It’s a loss to our field; she was, truly, unique. Her groundbreaking picture books celebrated children and family and communities — all kinds of children, all kinds of families, and all kinds of communities. Both A Chair […]