Remembering E.L. Konigsburg

Last night during dinner with one of my oldest friends, I asked if she’d heard that E.L. Konigsburg had died, she said, “Oh no! You don’t know what she meant to me.”

Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth...And I didn’t. I only know what she meant to me. My friend, who isn’t a librarian and hasn’t been to the kids’ section of the library since her son was little, vividly recalled reading Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth (S&S/Atheneum) in elementary school. She and her friends were so entranced by the book that they became witches, making up spells and wreaking havoc.

From the Mixed UpI was only half listening as I recalled my first visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in my early twenties. I walked from the grand stairs to the entrance. As I sat, enchanted by the fountains, I realized I was following the footsteps of the famous run-away Claudia in From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (S&S/Atheneum).

One of the delights of being a school librarian is rereading Konigburg’s titles. A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver (S&S/Atheneum) was required reading in our 5th grade for a very long time.

I have a brother who is sight impaired. When it became obvious that he wouldn’t be able to read again using his eyes, I started shipping him audio books I had reviewed. At a family gathering he took me aside and said he never was much of a reader and wasn’t interested in these kids books, so please  stop sending them. “Sure,” I said. “Sorry.”

Then I reviewed the audio of The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place (RH Audio)It was fabulous. Five stars! Not thinking, I popped it in a jiffy pack off to the brother.

About a week later, a phone call. “Hey, Lisa, you know that audio book you sent me?”

I sputtered, “Oh, I am sorry, I wasn’t thinking … I just loved it so much …  I won’t send anymore.”

“No, no,” he interrupted, ” it was great! Send me more just like that.”

And I would, I thought at the time, except, there are no more just like that. And now there won’t ever be.

One Response to “Remembering E.L. Konigsburg”

  1. Joy Millam Says:

    I feel just the same way! Her books were magical– they transported me to places I’d never been.

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