March 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

In Memoriam 2017

Dahlov Ipcar

As we begin 2018, School Library Journal  recognizes the talented authors, illustrators, and other champions in the world of children’s literature who passed away in 2017. Their work has enriched our lives and our collections, and it has brought joy to countless children (and grown-ups).

We regret any omissions. Please add to our remembrances in the comments section.

January 5—Paul Goble, 83. Goble won the 1979 Caldecott Medal for The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses (Bradbury, 1978).

January 14—Babette Cole, 67, was best known for Princess Smartypants (Putnam, 1986), a feminist retelling of a traditional fairy-tale romance.

February 10Dahlov Ipcar, 99, was the illustrator of over 44 books. Her first, in 1945, was The Little Fisherman (Scott), written by Margaret Wise Brown.

Dick Bruna

February 16Dick Bruna, 89, was the Dutch creator of a white rabbit, Miffy, whose adventures were chronicled in more than 100 books.  Bruna was the second-most translated author from the Netherlands, aside from Ann Frank.

February 19Nancy Willard, 80, won the 1982 Newbery Medal for A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers (Harcourt Brace, 1981), the first book of poetry to achieve that distinction.

March 1— Paula Fox, 93. A member of the New York State Writers Hall of Fame, Fox distinguished herself in writing for both adults and children.  She won the 1974 Newbery Medal for The Slave Dancer (Bradbury, 1973).

Amy Krouse Rosenthal

March 3Amy Krouse Rosenthal, 51, was the author of 28 books for children, including Uni the Unicorn (Random House, 2014) and Duck! Rabbit! (Chronicle, 2009).

April 7Patricia McKissack72. With her husband, the late Fredrick McKissack Sr., she wrote more than 100 books for young people and was the recipient of a  Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award.

April 27Peter Spier, 89.  Known for his detailed drawings that encouraged close study, Spier provided a new perspective to familiar stories, places, and songs in Noah’s Ark (Doubleday, 1977), Peter Spier’s Circus!, and The Fox Went Out On A Chilly Night (both Dragonfly Books; 1995, 1961).

Patricia McKissack and Frederick McKissack, Sr.

May 14—Jean Fritz, 101. Her picture books based on figures from U.S. history began a genre that is today quite popular. Fritz’s autobiography, Homesick: My Own Story (Putnam, 1982) won a National Book Award and a Newbery Honor.

June 2—Geoffrey Hayes, 69, created the TOON Books series “Benny and Penny.” In 1977, he illustrated Margaret Wise Brown’s When the Wind Blew (Harper).

June 5—Helen Dunmore, 64. She was a British author of books for children and young adults that included the “Ingo Chronicles” series (HarperCollins).

June 27Michael Bond, 91.  Bond was the creator of the classic children’s literature character Paddington Bear. The Paddington books have sold over 35 million copies and have been translated into more than 40 languages.

Peter Spier

August 2—Rebecca Bond, 45. She was an author, illustrator, and designer whose debut book Just Like a Baby (Little Brown, 1999) was named a Publisher Weekly Flying Start title.

August 3—Jill McElmurry, 62. The illustrator was best known for her “Little Blue Truck” series (HMH).

August 21Dianne de Las Casas, 47. She was the Founder of Picture Book Month, which has been celebrated each November since 2011.

October 12—Joan W. Blos, 89. Blos won both the 1980 Newbery Medal and the National Book Award for A Gathering of Days:  A New England Girl’s Journal 1830–32 (Scribner, 1979).

November 8—Pat Hutchins, 75. The British author and illustrator created over 40 books, five of which were named notable books by the American Library Association. Her book The Wind Blew (S. & S., 1974) won the Kate Greenaway Medal.

Sheila Barry

November 15Sheila Barry, 54. As publisher of Groundwood Books, Barry achieved international recognition for the publishing house, including multiple Governor General awards and a Bologna Prize for Best Children’s Publisher of the Year for North America.

November 15—Jill Barklem, 66. Barklem was the British author and illustrator of the “Brambly Hedge” series (HarperCollins).

December 6—Kathleen Karr, 71. Karr’s historical novel The Boxer (Farrar, 2000) won a 2000 Golden Kite Award. The Great Turkey Walk (Farrar, 1998) is perhaps her best known book.

December 20—Marilyn Brooke (M. B.) Goffstein, 77. An author, illustrator, and artist, her book, Fish for Supper (Dial, 1976), received a 1977 Caldecott Honor.

Extra Helping header

This article was featured in our free Extra Helping enewsletter.
Subscribe today to have more articles like this delivered to you twice a week.

Rocco Staino About Rocco Staino

Rocco Staino @RoccoA is the retired director of the Keefe Library of the North Salem School District in New York. He is now a contributing editor for School Library Journal and also writes for the Huffington Post.



  1. Thank you for putting this together. I felt sad reading about the loss of these talented people. I’m so glad we have their work that will live on.

  2. Virginia Fowler says:

    Thank you for this extensive list of writers and publishers. We remember many of their works with great pleasure as we think of their contributions to children’s literature. Truly they have provided us with gifts that keep on giving!

  3. Kathy Hickie says:

    Thanks for sharing this list. My grandchildren loved the Llama Llama books by Anna Dewdney who passed away last September 3, 2016.

  4. Lee Bennett Hopkins says:

    THANK YOU for this, Rocco. It is always so sad to lose so many greats.

  5. Thank you for this collection of these gifted writers and illustrators we have lost.

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind