Thursday, January 29, 2009

Kate McClelland



Kate McClelland and Kathy Krasniewicz died yesterday and the world is a poorer poorer place today. It's not possible to take in this news yet. I didn't know Kathy so well, and I'm sure there will be others who to euologize her. Kate's the one I know. I knew.

There was nobody like Kate McClelland. She wasn't just one in a million, she was one in a lifetime. Children all over this country have benefitted from her work and her passion. We publishers have made better books because of her.

You slog to these conferences in the middle of winter and over 4th of July weekend, and you wonder why you do it, and then -- there's Kate. In chunky jewelry with the asymmetrical hair and the glasses on the beaded chain and the japonaiserie and the huge hug and the conspiratorial voice and you think -- Oh, that's it. That's why I'm here. I'm here because of the Kate McClellands of this world. Not that the plural even applies.

Go to the Perrot Memorial Library site and just take a look at what Kathy and Kate did in their town. Then expand that to New York publishing and American librarianship and you'll begin, begin, to understand why they will be so profoundly missed. This is the sad sad posting on the site this morning:




There will be no children's programs on Thursday, January 29th, or Friday, January 30th.


Kate dear -- I hope to God they have wi-fi wherever you are, because last night my husband asked me how old you were and I told him early sixties? Sixty-five maybe? And I read in the paper you were 71! Seventy-one! You were sure fooling me, babe.

At the ALA you and I were talking about how some people never age. Well, darling Kate, some people will never die, and you are one of them.

10 comments:

Hollis said...

Thank you for this. I was one of her children long before I was a colleague.

I never knew Mrs Mac had a life beyond Perrott, never knew the effect she had on the rest of the world, until, with her support, I became a children's librarian myself. She was the kind of grownup that made every kid feel as though she/he were the only child in the world.

I remember countless story hours and programs (my favorite was the time we raced worms in the parking lot! I think we read How to Eat Fried Worms, or something...)

When I got a little older I got to be her helper, and my favorite memory of tht time was when we had a Peter Rabbitt Tea Party, and I got to pour everyone's "tea."

Her summer reading programs got me to read outside my usual genre, because to fill out the sheets completely, you had to read from different columns.

I could go on-- Her work at ALA and the larger world will always be remembered and praised, but what will likely go unsaid is what is most important- She raised so many of us to be curious, engaged, and ambitious readers.

Thanks for honoring her here.

Caroline said...

I am so shocked and distressed to learn of Kate's death. Brenda, you captured her spirit exactly - her "conspiratorial voice," her unique beauty, her great spirit. What a loss to the world at large and to the world of libraries and children's literature.

lady hermes said...

Whenever I attended an ALA, there was Kate and I was always so happy to see a friend and neighbor. She did so much to bring good books to children, and readers, lookers and listeners, authors and illustrators that she'll never be forgotten.

The news of her death and Kathy's is sickening. I hope that the judge in Denver throws more than one book at the DUI driver.

crchronicles said...

This is a perfect tribute to Kate...it brings me right back to all the ALA dinners, lunches, committee discussions, we had years ago. She will be missed.

carol

S. Mozer said...

I am a teacher at Riverside School in Greenwich as well as an aspiring writer. Each year Kate and Kathy came to our school to fill our students heads with wonder about the books they could read over the summer. By the time they were done there wasn't a child (or teacher) in the room that didn't want to run right out and grab a copy of the book.

When I started writing novels myself, it was Kate and Kathy who helped me find the SCBWI and a direction to begin my own journey. Each year when they visited the school, they checked in on my progress.

They will be truly missed by the teachers and students at our school. And for those of us who knew them personally, it is a loss that I don't think any of us can understand.

Thank you for your words.

Stacy

Knitfiction said...

Thank you, Brenda, for this perfect tribute. Kate is (can it be was?) one in a million and the world at large as well as the world of children's books is a poorer place without her in it. I'll never forget when she as Mrs. Mac had her "club" read one of my novels. Their reactions were engaged, perceptive, intelligent and the session was filled with a love of reading, of books in general and most especially, a love of Kate. It was palpable in the room. I am broken hearted. In a certain way, no matter our age, as Hollis says, we were all her children.

Elizabeth

melanie said...

On July 7, 2005 I apprehensively took the Metro North railway from NYC to Greenwich for my presentation at Kate and Kathy's library that afternoon. It was the day of the London transportation bombings. I spoke to Kate that morning after I heard the news. She made it known that the 3D art workshop she hired me to teach that day was important because it broke down my art in a process. And that process is an important thing to learn in an age that lacked unaccountablity. That got me on the train. Kate and Kathy took me for a beautiful lunch and I got to spend time with them. At my program Kate participated along with the kids. I was able to witness her child like spirit.

I am sad at hearing about this loss of two such lovely people. I often think about Kate's words to me that morning, especially now when hearing about the accident. Hopefully, a full accountability will honor Kate and Kathy. My sincerest condolances go out to both their families, friends, and colleagues.

Melanie Hope Greenberg

Drew Lamm said...

Oh Kate! It's like you stepped right out of the best book we ever read and we all knew it. You were a favorite character, the one I wished was my best friend, sister, a faerie I could fit in my breast pocket and carry around with me everywhere. It didn't occur to me to have to keep you safe, it seemed you were doing that for us - for our spirits, hearts and imaginations. There was no dust on your books, no whispering in your joy. You were a walking celebration and I loved being invited to your party. I have a quote here by my desk that says, "Present yourself as though you were a gift." You did that Kate. And you were. Love, Drew

Drew Lamm said...

Oh Kate! It's like you stepped right out of the best book we ever read and we all knew it. You were a favorite character, the one I wished was my best friend, sister, a faerie I could fit in my breast pocket and carry around with me everywhere. It didn't occur to me to have to keep you safe, it seemed you were doing that for us - for our spirits, hearts and imaginations. There was no dust on your books, no whispering in your joy. You were a walking celebration and I loved being invited to your party. I have a quote here by my desk that says, "Present yourself as though you were a gift." You did that Kate. And you were. Love, Drew

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