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Generosity: What I Learned from Doreen Rappaport

Doreen Rappaport has given me my entire arsenal of Yiddish terms and helped clarify whether mensch was a compliment or an insult. Doreen has taught me, in a number of knee-quaking moments, that people can disagree vehemently — even profanely — yet still maintain a deep mutual affection for each other. She’s taught me that, no matter how successful a creative person may be, she still needs every new labor to be understood and protected by her editor and publisher.

Most importantly, Doreen has taught me what it means to be generous. She honored me with respect and professionalism at the start of my career, a generous gesture toward someone young, inexperienced, and insecure. She continues to be magnanimous with schools and libraries — sometimes touring for reasons that have little to do with compensation but much to do with a desire to make her footprint on Earth a garden for bounty and hope, not a crater of destruction and despair.

The most public evidence of her generosity, perhaps, can be found in her books. Her choice of subjects and her prose reveal a vast and astonishing capacity for compassion. Compassion is, in my mind, the off spring of wonder, love, and respect married to generosity.

About Mary Lee Donovan

Mary Lee Donovan is executive editor at Candlewick Press.

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