Paula Danziger, legendary children's author, dies at age 59 in New York City
- Friday, July 09, 2004
New York, NY July 9, 2004…
Award-winning and beloved author, Paula Danziger died on the afternoon of July 8, 2004, at St. Luke’s Hospital in New York City after complications from a heart attack at age 59. Danziger is best known as the author of The Amber Brown
series and the modern classic, The Cat Ate My Gymsuit
. Set to celebrate its 30th anniversary this fall, The Cat Ate My Gymsuit
quickly established Danziger as one of America’s most popular authors for young adults.
Danziger has published over 30 books, with millions of copies in print. Known as a flamboyantly funny and deeply honest writer and speaker, Danziger’s books have won young reader medals in almost every state in the US and have been translated into dozens of languages. Danziger was especially known for her ability to connect with audiences spanning a large range, from beginning readers to young adults. In addition, she is beloved by parents, teachers, librarians, and other children’s authors alike. She never faltered in her support of new writers coming into her field. As such, she served on the board of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Besides entertaining audiences with her books, Danziger had a regular segment on the BBC’s hit children’s TV show “Alive and Kicking” for six years in the 1990s.
Doug Whiteman, Executive Vice President of Penguin Group Inc. and President of Penguin Young Readers Group, says, “We have lost not only an extraordinary writer, but also an extremely caring, giving person. Paula will long be remembered for the many hours she gave to aspiring writers and young editors as she tried to help bring along the next generation of publishing talent. All of us at Penguin loved her dearly and will miss her humor, warmth and compassion.”
Margaret Frith, Danziger’s editor for 15 years and Editor at Large of G.P. Putnam’s Sons Children’s Books, says, “Paula loved her young audience and they loved her back because she was right there with them, making them laugh, often in person and always in her books. Kids adored this wonderful, original woman who was their fierce ally and friend. A frequent visitor to their classroom, they flocked around her because she was ‘one of them.’ Paula had the admiration and affection of her readers, young and old, and she always will.”
Paula Danziger was born on August 18, 1944, in Washington, DC, to Samuel and Carolyn Danziger (a garment district worker and a nurse). She grew up in Metuchen, NJ, and received BA and MA in Education from Montclair State College. She began her career in 1967 as a substitute teacher and went on to teach at the junior high level in New Jersey for a few years. This path was interrupted by a series of bizarre car accidents which put her on course for becoming an author.
Perhaps more than any other author of kids’ books today, Paula Danziger knew how to relate to children at their level. She was vital, funny, and compassionate. She knew how kids felt, what made them laugh, what they wore, collected, read, and played with. From collecting novelty toys that would make any teacher cringe, to wearing jangly earrings, funky glasses and shoes covered with beads and sequins, Paula Danziger had a direct line into kids’ hearts and funnybones.
Danziger is survived by her brother, Barry; her sister-in-law, Annette; her three nephews, Sam, Ben, and Josh; and her niece Carrie, who was the inspiration for her enormously popular character, Amber Brown.
Donations can be made to the Amber Brown Fund / SCBWI Museum of Children’s Books
, 8271 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048. This fund is being established to bring authors and illustrators to schools and libraries which otherwise could not afford them.