The children’s literature world has lost a most singular writer. Elaine Lobl (E.L.) Konigsburg passed away April 19, from complications of a stroke: she was 83. Konigsburg is also the only children’s author to have won the prestigious Newbery Award (given for excellence in children’s literature by the American Library Association) AND the Newbery Honor in the same year (1968), for From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley and Me, Elizabeth, respectively.
Other books Ms. Konigsburg has written include Silent to the Bone, Up From Jericho Tel, A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver, Father’s Arcane Daughter and The View From Saturday (for which she won another Newbery in 1997.) Paul Vitello, in the New York Times (April 22, 2013) had the following quote listed in his obit for Ms. Konigsburg: “Children’s books, she once said, are ‘the key to the accumulated wisdom, wit, gossip, truth, myth, history, philosophy, and recipes for salting potatoes during the past 6,000 years of civilization.’ “
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is a favorite of lots of readers. One of this writer’s colleagues (herself a published writer) stated, “My husband and I were so disappointed when we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC and discovered they’d gotten rid of the fountain where Jamie and Claudia had collected coins. How dare they!” And this writer has fond memories of Mixed-Up Files because she booktalked it years ago at her interview for her current position! Writer/illustrator Brian Selznick (who himself won the Randolph Caldecott Award—the American Library Association award for excellence in picture book illustration in 2008) references Konigsburg’s Mixed-Up Files several times in his book, Wonderstruck. Selznick said in a Publisher’s Weekly interview (Sue Corbett, August 4, 2011) that it was one of his favorite books, and then added “I mean, it’s one of everybody’s favorite books.”
And it will be for years to come.