Sue Alexander: Author, Mentor, Friend
- Wednesday, July 23, 2008
|Sue Alexander, 1934 - 2008
Sue Alexander, SCBWI’s first member, longtime Chair of the SCBWI’s Board of Advisors, mentor to hundreds of aspiring authors and illustrators, author of more than twenty-five books for children, recipient of numerous awards, and a dedicated advocate for literacy, authors and illustrators and the SCBWI, died suddenly, July 3, at her home in West Hills, California. She was 74.
Sue Alexander was born in Tucson, but moved to Chicago at an early age. There she developed into an avid reader and storyteller, later incorporating her experiences into some of her books including Lila on the Landing
(1987) and Sara’s City
(1995). In the late 1960’s she began publishing in children’s magazines, though only after acquiring hundreds of rejections. When her daughter asked for some skits to perform at school the result was her first book, Small Plays For You and a Friend
This first book came shortly after she had become a charter member of the SCBWI. “Three days after joining the then SCBW, Sue called me and Lin,” recalled SCBWI President, Stephen Mooser. “How can I help? she asked. And for more than 35 years that’s what she did, joyfully and selflessly.”
“There was hardly a part of the SCBWI that Sue didn’t play a part in,” remembers, SCBWI Executive Director Lin Oliver. “She helped create the Golden Kite Award. Served for nearly thirty years as SCBWI Board of Advisor’s Chair, even ran the SCBWI office for a while. And, of course she is the namesake of the Sue Alexander Award, given each year to a promising manuscript at the Summer Conference. Personally and professionally we have all lost an irreplaceable friend. ”
As an author she primarily wrote lyrical, perfectly-crafted picture books including Nadia The Willful
(1983), World Famous Muriel
(1984) and Behold The Trees
(2001). In 1980 she received the Dorothy C. McKenzie Award from the Southern California Council of Literature for Children and Young People for distinguished contribution to the field of children’s literature. Among her other awards was the Child Study Association’s Children’s Book of the Year for Nadia the Willful
, the story of a young Bedouin who disobeys her father’s command not to mention the death of his lost son. As Nadia finds people with whom to talk about Hamed, she keeps his memory alive and her father ultimately learns that no one is dead if they are not forgotten.
The SCBWI has received an outpouring of remembrances from those who Sue touched, through her work with the SCBWI, her personal relationships and through her writing. One of her oldest friends, author Rita Berman Frischer, best summed up the way all of us at the SCBWI feel about this extraordinary individual, Sue Alexander. Rita wrote, “Her memory will be a blessing. Like Nadia, I will speak of her and will remember.”