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Obituaries

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

Russell Freedman (1929-2018)

We were sad to learn that Russell Freedman passed away earlier this week. The prolific nonfiction author — winner of the 1988  Newbery Medal for Lincoln: A Photobiography — wrote over sixty books, beginning with Teenagers Who Made History and including Kids at Work: Lewis Hine and the Crusade Against Child Labor; Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life […]

Ursula K. Le Guin (1929–2018)

Author Ursula K. Le Guin, who challenged the male-dominated fantasy and science fiction fields starting in the 1960s, died January 22, 2018, in Portland, Oregon. She was eighty-eight. Her YA novel A Wizard of Earthsea (which explored the struggle of good versus evil as an internal struggle, not an external one) won the 1969 Boston […]

Julius Lester (1939-2018)

We were terribly saddened to hear of the death yesterday of Julius Lester at age seventy-eight, author of such touchstone books as To Be a Slave (illustrated by Tom Feelings), a Newbery Honor winner; Long Journey Home: Stories from Black History; When the Beginning Began: Stories About God, the Creatures, and Us (illustrated by Emily Lisker); […]

Reviews of Selected Books Edited by Iona Opie

I Saw Esau: The Schoolchild’s Pocket Book edited by Iona and Peter Opie; illus. by Maurice Sendak Of Interest to Adults     Candlewick     160 pp. 6/92     1-56402-046-0     $19.99 Generously embellished with illustrations ranging from full-page compositions to vignettes illuminating individual verses, this newly reissued edition of the book which first appeared in […]

Iona Opie (1923-2017)

British folklorist Iona Opie died October 23, 2017, in Hampshire, England, at the age of ninety-four. With her late husband Peter Opie she was “one of the world’s greatest experts on the folklore, games and beliefs of childhood,” as the London Telegraph obituary put it. The Opies’ first publication was I Saw Esau in 1947; […]

Robin Smith (1959-2017)

Teacher, picture book expert, and reading advocate Robin Smith died June 22, 2017, at the age of fifty-seven. A second-grade teacher at Ensworth School in Nashville for the last twenty-four years, she was a longtime Horn Book contributor and reviewer and a founding co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog. She also reviewed for BookPage and […]

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 […]