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.”
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.
I 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.