Paula Danziger (1945 - 2004), author of thirty children's books, passed away on July 8. She wrote me a lovely note in June, just one week before suffering the massive heart attack that killed her one month later. As a subscriber to my e-mail newsletter ( http://www.surfnetkids.com/emailedition.htm ) Danziger had read about our upcoming London vacation, and offered oodles of site seeing recommendations. Being a huge fan, I was thrilled to learn she found my work helpful. Although Danziger is gone, her characters, such as the spunky Amber Brown and the exuberant Tara*Starr, will live on.
In this excellent three minute RealPlayer audio clip from All Things Considered, National Public Radio's Susan Stone chronicles Danziger's career, starting with her first book "The Cat Ate My Gym Suit." You can listen for free (with the RealPlayer plugin ) but if you want a written transcript, there is a small fee.
Danziger co-wrote two books for young teens with her friend Ann Martin: "P.S. Longer Letter Later" and "Snail Mail No More." Although they shared a literary agent, Danziger and Martin were introduced by a mutual fan. They met over dinner and became good friends but it was another friend who dreamed up the collaboration. Martin explains, "She suggested telling the story in an exchange of letters, each writing as a different character - so both of our voices would be present in the book. We were able to write on our own and yet work together."
My pick of the day is Scholastic's official Danziger website, because it paints such a vivid picture of the author you almost feel as if you've met Danziger in person. Favorite things? "I love dressing up (clothes, shoes and jewelry) and creating my own unique style." Pet Peeves? "People who say it's easy to be a kid." For classroom activities, click on the Amber Brown book cover in the upper left-hand corner, then look for Fun in the Classroom in the lower-right hand corner.
Danziger was known for her generosity to aspiring writers, and this tribute site is overflowing with letters from those she touched. It also has a biography outlining the various life events that brought Danziger to writing. "... it took thirty years, a teaching career and two life threatening car crashes (in two consecutive days) to bring her face-to-face with her ultimate passion writing top quality literature for kids. 'I had always wanted to write,' Danziger said. 'But after the second wreck, I decided I better do it before I got hit by a bus.'"