One Writer’s Journey

August 12, 2019

Lee Bennett Hopkins: RIP

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:34 am
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Sadness.  Last week, poet and anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins passed away.

I can’t even tell you how many poems he published or how many anthologies he produced.  What I can tell you is that he is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most productive anthologist of poetry for children.

Hopkins created his first anthology because he was a teacher.  When Langston Hughes, died in 1967, Lee Bennett Hopkins wanted to share Hughes writing with his students. “I was introducing language arts curricula into classroom programs, with an emphasis on poetry, and I realized when Hughes died that I could not share with students his only book for children, The Dream Keeper and Other Poems, published in 1932, due to the art’s stereotypical depiction of blacks.”

Hopkins settled on a solution.  He would create a new anthology and thus Don’t You Turn Back: Poems by Langston Hughes was published by Knopf in 1969.

Poet and anthologist, our library has twenty-six of his books.  Although I periodically read poetry, I can’t say that I always have his books on my library shelf.  Yet, when I got the news that he had died, I had just picked School People up from the library.

While it is sad that he is no longer with us, what a blessing that he was creating both poetry and anthologies for so many years.  Why not celebrate his work by checking out one of his books this week?  World Make Way is on my hold list.  And I realize that I’ve never read Manger.  Do I request it now or wait until Christmas when it is seasonally appropriate?

If you have a favorite poem or collection by Hopkins, share it below.

–SueBE

May 25, 2018

RIP Richard Peck

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:02 am
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This is not the post I planned to run the Friday before Memorial Day.  I was going to run something short and upbeat.  But Thursday morning I learned that Richard Peck had died Wednesday.  Sadly, I can’t let that pass without comment.

Unlike some of my fellow writers, I didn’t know Peck’s work when I was his target audience.  And that’s a shame because I would have loved it even then.  His quirky characters have always reminded me a lot of Twain.  As a writer, I have always loved his work which I discovered early in my career.

A big part of it is that his work is hard to pigeon-hole. Platform?  I’m  not sure I’ve heard him say the word unless it was associated with railway.

Yes, he wrote historic fiction set in small town Illinois.  But his most recent book, Best Man, was a contemporary middle grade novel that explored issues of sexuality and self-identity.  It is still quirky and laugh-out-loud hilarious even while it explores issues that have polarized our society.  I love him for that.

I’ve read more of his work than I actually own and may have to rectify that.  But until I get my next check, I’ll satisfy myself with a trip to the library.  I’ll start with The Ghost Belonged to Me which a friend, a teacher, just recommended.

Time to get re-acquainted.

–SueBE

 

October 13, 2014

RIP Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:38 am
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My first Zilpha Keatley Snyder read including this cover art.

I’m sad to report that last week children’s publishing lost a luminary with the death of Zilpha Keatley Snyder.  I never met Snyder but I remember, way back when, reading The Headless Cupid.  Snyder was the first author to thoroughly creep me out while also forcing me to keep turning the pages.  I had to know how the story ended!

Snyder ultimately published more than 40 books including historical fiction, contemporary YA, fantasy and science fiction.  Three times she earned a Newbery Honor for The Egypt Game (1967), The Headless Cupid (1971), and The Witches of Worm (1972).

Snyder’s most recent novel was William’s Midsummer Dreams about a young actor and a production of . . . I’m sure you can figure that part out!

If you’ve never sampled Snyder’s books, pick one up at your local library.  With 40 plus books, including several in electronic formats, to choose, you will find something that suits your taste.

–SueBE

August 25, 2014

RIP Elaine Marie Alphin

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:10 am
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ElaineSad, sadder, saddest.

The world of children’s publishing lost an amazing author with the death of Elaine Marie Alphin on August 19, 2014.

Usually, when I post about someone important in our field, it isn’t someone with whom I’ve interacted.  Fortunately, I had to priviledge to learn from Elaine.

When I started writing, Elaine was already established.  She wrote both fiction and nonfiction (see below).  It always surprised me how dark much of her fiction is because Elaine was always a bright soul, a cheerleader for new writers, answering questions and giving us the encouragement to keep working.

Elaine will surely be missed.  Why not pick up one of her books and get to know an amazing writer?

–SueBE

 

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