Beverly Cleary has died aged 104. Full obituaries will be listed here as they appear.
1984 Hans Christian Andersen winner, Mitsumasa Anno, has died aged 94. He was known especially for wordless pictorial bird’s-eye view “Journey” books, in which a character’s travels embrace a country’s art, literature, culture, and history. His first book, English title Topsy-Turvies – described by Anita Silvey as “an amazing collection of improbable constructions filled with impossible perspectives and angles” – was published in 1968, when he was already in his forties. Before that he had been a primary school teacher. Anno’s Alphabet, published in 1974, received the Boston-Globe Horn Book Award and was specially commended for that year’s Kate Greenaway Medal (awarded that year to Pat Hutchins for The Wind Blew).
In 1985, Shirley Hughes wrote a profile of him for Books for Keeps, describing the artist as having “about him more than a touch of the genial magician, a flamboyant westernised style combined with the formal politeness of his fellow country-men; he is quick, observant and very, very intelligent.”
Hughes goes on to observe, “He shows a similar brilliant sleight-of-hand with perspective as the artist he is sometimes compared with, M. C. Escher. They both play on the way our eye perceives three-dimensional form on a flat surface. But Anno is the more humanly fanciful and, unlike Escher, works in colour which he uses with stunning fluency. He is not, one senses, particularly drawn to the role of interpreting other people’s texts. Responding very strongly to poetry, he feels (as many writers do) that a good piece of literature needs no further illustration to enhance its meaning. His books explore the converse of this reaction; that a visual medium doesn’t need words to explain the story.”
There is a Mitsumasa Anno Art Museum designed by world-renowned architect, Tadao Andou.
Christopher Little, the agent who signed J. K. Rowling, died earlier this month. The opening paragraphs of this Times obituary describe how his office received three chapters of the first Harry Potter book, Rowling having picked “his name from a list of literary agents in an Edinburgh library, thinking that he sounded like a character from a children’s story”.
I am very sorry for being so late in posting this news. My reaction was similar to that of Camilla Reid, writing on the Nosy Crow blog (see the link below):
I almost felt that it was impossible for Wendy to actually die. This is bonkers, obviously, but anyone who ever met her cannot have failed to notice in Wendy a vitality, a force of positive energy that is rare to encounter and would fool you into thinking it would go on forever.
She must have been at practically every children’s publishing event I ever attended in London. If she wasn’t, it would mean she was on one of her regular travelling expeditions, and if she was, you could bet that conversation would be as likely to be about her latest adventures in India, as it would about children’s books.
She will be greatly missed.
The New York Times reports the death of Gene Deitch, “an Oscar-winning animator who created the early television cartoon “Tom Terrific” and went on to make countless cartoons and film versions of popular children’s books for more than a half-century, died on April 16 in Prague, where he lived. He was 95.”
Deitch made animated version of Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are” (1975), Tomi Ungerer’s “Moon Man” (1981) and many other other well-regarded children’s books.
An excellent, recommended obituary.
Alison Prince, Watch With Mother writer, creator of Trumpton and children’s bookskm aurthor: born 26 March 1931; died 12 October 2019
The Guardian obituary appeared online at the end of October but for some reason the print version didn’t appear till today, Saturday 16 November.