Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Remembering Patricia Reilly Giff


Two time Newbery Honoree, author of the popular Kids of the Polk Street School series, and longtime friend to the SCBWI, Patricia Reilly Giff, has died following a long illness. She was 86.


Author Patricia Reilly Giff takes questions from students at Tokeneke. [Photo credit: Westport News]


An avid reader as a child she aspired to write her own stories, but did not put pen to paper till well into a career as a teaching consultant working with young children struggling as readers. The students, she recalled, had “unhappy faces”. Wanting to put smiles on those same faces she sat down and wrote “Today Was A Terrible Day”, a short, humorous story that was published in 1980 by Viking. More books were to follow including the wildly successful the Kids of the Polk Street School series.


In 1997, after publishing more than 60 humorous books, she published the moving novel, Lily’s Crossing (Delacorte Press) which received a Newbery Honor. A second Newbery Honor came in 2003 for Pictures of Hollis Woods (Random House/Wendy Lamb).


SCBWI Members remember her fondly as a conference speaker where her generosity and humor was always in prominent display. She will be terribly missed by friends, family and members of the children’s book world, but her memory will live on each time one of her stories brings a smile to the face of a young reader.