E.L. Konigsburg, 1930-2013.
Which is a huge loss.
She's one of the very few authors on my personal Doesn't Know How To Write A Bad Book list, and even though I haven't picked up one of her books in a few years—I'm planning on digging them out this evening—the news of her death was a punch in the gut.
Here are a few links to obituaries and remembrances from around the kitlitosphere and beyond:
At Educating Alice:
I was fortunate enough to meet Mrs. Konigsburg a few times. My favorite memory of these was at a late evening drinks reception where I sat with her and a handful of others on bar stools around a small high table, quite starry-eyed to be included. She was definitely one of the classiest and smartest people I have ever read or met and I hope that her books will continue to provide the same intellectual and aesthetic pleasure for others that they have for me
From the AP:
In 2004, she told The Dallas Morning News that she built her characters and plots by imagining situations what-if situations with her children, grandchildren and students.
"I think most of us are outsiders," she said. "And I think that's good because it makes you question things. I think it makes you see things outside yourself."
At the Dallas News:
She also found it funny that for many years, the Metropolitan Museum of Art refused to sell From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler because, she speculated, they feared the book would encourage kids to do what her characters did and and sleep on an exhibit bed and bathe in the water fountain when the museum was closed.
Eventually the museum not only relented, but they allowed a movie adaptation of the book to be filmed on its premises.
At the BBC:
Her first book, Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth, was given a special Newbery honour the same year she won her first Newbery medal, making her the only author to win two Newbery prizes in the same year.
At Cynsations (lots of other links here, too):
In my new purchased copy of Mixed-up Files (not the only one I own), she wrote: "Thank you for loving this book so much for so many years."
I'm the one who's grateful. I can only imagine how many times she scribbled that sentiment, or one very much like it, for readers who were starstruck, too.
For years, The View from Saturday was read, re-read and re-read yet again until it fell apart, then I’d run out and find a new one. She touched my life and my heart with her books and she lives on in them. My granddaughter now reads and re-reads From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler much as I did The View from Saturday. I am positive, because her books are so enduring that my granddaughter’s grandchildren will one day be lying in a window seat with a well-loved, almost falling apart book by Ms. Konisburg in their hands.
At the Children's Literature Network:
Reading A View from Saturday touched my heart. I had grown up with kids like this. The notion of an Academic Bowl was so appealing that I wanted to slip back to my childhood, go to that school, and be on the team. Elaine Lobl Konigsburg told stories about real children, kids that many of us could side with, laugh with, cry with, and not feel alone.
From Mindy Klasky:
Along with books by Zilpha Keatley Snyder and Ruth M. Arthur, the stories of E.L. Konigsburg were some of the very first that sparked my imagination, that taught me about secret worlds where I could explore very far away from the suburban streets of North Dallas. (And I’m a bit astonished to realize that virtually all of Konigsburg’s books are set in the real world — historic world sometimes, but not in made-up secondary venues. I’m surprised because those books carried a sense of wonder, a vision of different-ness, that flavors my speculative fiction today.)
From Diana Peterfreund:
It’s about independence and New York and art and Michelangelo, and I was more than a little like Claudia at that age, and I used to try to figure out how long I’d last in that place and what I’d spend money on (I tell you, I’d not be as obsessed with baths as she was) and to this day, whenever I’m in a restroom at a museum, I think about the whole “standing on the toilet seat and ducking” trick.
At Read Roger:
We mourn the death (last Friday) of E.L. Konigsburg, who never wrote a book I didn’t want to read. (Not that I love them all, but even where she went wrong, she did so magnetically.)
At the Horn Book:
Konigsburg never wrote down to her readers. Many of her characters are sophisticated, intelligent, witty, unique, and savvy. She wrote about wannabe-witches (Jennifer), restless suburban kids (Mixed-Up Files), Jewish boys playing baseball (About the B’nai Bagels), historical women (A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver, The Second Mrs. Giaconda), possibly-con-artist women (Father’s Arcane Daughter), outcasts, smarty-pantses, heroes — the list goes on.
At the New York Times:
Mrs. Konigsburg, who spent a year teaching high school science, was an unabashed information-pusher. Children’s books, she once said, are “the key to the accumulated wisdom, wit, gossip, truth, myth, history, philosophy, and recipes for salting potatoes during the past 6,000 years of civilization.”
I'm sure there are lots of others—if you've run across any especially nice pieces, let me know in the comments. Or, if you feel like it, tell me which of her books is your favorite. (Mine continues to be Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth.)