Last Sunday's New York Times magazine paid tribute to notable people (famous and not-so-famous) who died in the past year. Included was Lucille Clifton, a poet and author of twenty children's books. It started me thinking what other writers for children died in 2010. Here's my unofficial list. Some are well known to me, while others I'm hearing about for the first time. If you can think of any I've forgotten, please chime in.
Ruth Chew, 90
The Wednesday Witch, Chew's first novel was rejected by 10 publishers before finally being accepted by Scholastic. Chew went on to write many more wrote fantastical books featuring witches, wizards, and time travel. Some of her many titles include: The Would-Be Witch, The Magic Coin, and Trapped in Time. Chew also worked as an illustrator.
Eleanor Coerr, 88
The book that put Coerr's name on the map is Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, a story based on a girl who died from leukemia in 1955, ten years after an atomic bomb was dropped on her village. While in the hospital, Sadako folded origami cranes, trying to complete 1,000 of them. She died before she made her goal, but her classmates pitched in and folded the remaining cranes. This past year, the 25th anniversary of Sadako's death, Coerr attended a ceremony where she was presented with one of the original cranes.
Sid Fleishman, 90
Newbery medalist for The Whipping Boy, Fleishman was one of the greats. This year I finally got around to reading his autobiography The Abracadabra Kid. In it, he tells about his childhood love of magic tricks and how he grew up to become a magician before stumbling into writing, first for adults and then for children.
Eva Ibbotson, 85
I haven't read any of Eva Ibbotson's work, but I intend to. Her first children's book was published when Ibbotson, a British citizen, was 50, and she went on to pen dozens more, including her recent book The Ogre of Oglefort, shortlisted for this year's Guardian children's prize. It was described as being "a bit like reading the Brothers Grimm through the lens of Monty Python." Many of her other novels have to do with the supernatural and have a comic bent.
Patricia Wrightson, 88
Australian author Patricia Wrightson wrote numerous novels about her native land, often finding inspiration in Aboriginal legends. Her first novels were realistic adventure stories for children. Later novels focused more on fantasy, such as The Nargun and the Stars, published in 1975. In 1986 Wrightson was the recipient of the Hans Christian Anderson Award.