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R.I.P. Margaret K. McElderry

In memory of the great and good Margaret K. McElderry, who died on Monday, we offer the two-part interview Leonard Marcus conducted with her for the November-December 1993 and January-February 1994 issues of the Horn Book Magazine.

The list of books Margaret published that I love is very, very long, but it begins with Margot Benary-Isbert’s The Ark, which my mother bought for me when I was around ten, and which I read over and over for years. Every kid should be fortunate enough to find such a book to love so much, and it’s thanks to the MKMs of the world that they get published. God bless her.

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. kathleen duey says:

    >Margaret was one of the most impressive and lovely human beings I have ever met. The first time I had a conversation of any length with her, I walked away thinking what a bright light she was, what an inspiration.

  2. KT Horning says:

    >The Ark was one of those books we quietly passed around in 4th grade, whispering "You gotta read this!" We thought it was scandalous and hid it from adults. I haven't re-read it as an adult so can't remember what was so risque about it. Any idea?

    I do remember that, as a result, the first time I met Margaret McElderry, I was awestruck because she had given us The Ark.

  3. Roger Sutton says:

    >KT, I looked online to refresh my memory and it seems the book is out of print (and I remember no scandalous doings). Maybe we should start a Twitter campaign or Facebook group to get HMH to reprint it!

  4. >At ALA, the year The Thief was an honor book, Susan Hirshman shoveled me into a cab between Margaret McElderry and Eloise Jarvis McGraw. It was the cab ride of a life time. I also read The Ark when I was ten, Roger. I wish I'd known I had her to thank for it. And for Patricia Wrightson's and LM Boston's books as well.


  5. >I too love The Ark, although I came to it as an adult–I'm going to be re-reading it in the next few days, and I'll look for risque-ness, although I too remember none.

  6. >For some reason, my high school library had almost all of Benary-Isbert's books. Love, love, love.

    But as for scandalous? I must have missed something. Unless it was just the whole drama of it (dead brother, making do as refuges) as well as the setting — post WWII Germany with sympathy to Germans? I may have a copy somewhere, I'll have to look.

  7. Roger Sutton says:

    >And did I read that The Changeover is also out of print? That's a scandal.

    I had lunch Friday with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publisher Betsy Groban and suggested she bring back The Ark in MKM's honor.

  8. >I would love to see the Ark!

    But then I'd be greedy, and want the other books where the family & friends from the Ark appear.

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