Ava Weiss (1925-2020)

We were sorry to learn that longtime Greenwillow Books art director Ava Weiss has died, at the age of ninety-five. She was with Greenwillow from its beginnings in 1974 (having followed founder Susan Hirschman from Macmillan), retiring in 2002. Greenwillow’s Facebook page called her “brilliant” and said: “Ava designed the Greenwillow logo (inspired by Janina Domanska’s etchings in Under the Green Willow), and she worked with countless artists to bring their award-winning, beloved, and classic books into the world. “ 

One of those artists was Kevin Henkes, who shares this remembrance for Horn Book readers: 

“Ava was a wonderful teacher. She was unselfish with her time and generous with encouragement and praise. She made me feel like a Greenwillow regular, even when I was a nineteen-year-old with so much to learn. 

I will never forget the first time Ava took me on press with her for the printing of one of my books (Clean Enough). I was excited and nervous. Initially, the colors were too strong and I was heartbroken, thinking: It’s over. My book is ruined. But Ava calmly worked with the printers. The rollers were cleaned. The ink was adjusted. Then, the colors were too soft and more ink was added. Through it all, Ava was steady and optimistic — mothering me while patiently collaborating with the printers to get things exactly right. Which, of course, she did. As always. 

Throughout the years, I felt confident that any book Ava guided through production would look beautiful and visually be the very best it could be. 

I think of her often and will continue to do so. She was a wonder.”  

Photo from Greenwillow's Facebook page: from left, Kevin Henkes, Donald Crews, Susan Hirschman, and Ava Weiss in 2015.

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