Yesterday was not a good day for American literature.
First came an email from WBN U.S. chairman, and Hachette Book Group CEO, Michael Pietsch stating
After three years in which thousands and thousands of you distributed over a million and half specially-printed World Book Night paperbacks across America, we are sad to announce that we are suspending operations. The expenses of running World Book Night U.S., even given the significant financial and time commitment from publishers, writers, booksellers, librarians, printers, distributors, shippers–and you, our amazing givers!–are too high to sustain.
World Book Night UK also faces financial difficulties.
Then, the truly bad news. Walter Dean Myers passed away.
While I feel as though I met Myers every time I picked up one of his books, I only met him once in person and that was on my first visit to the McConnell Conference in Kentucky. Myers and Brian Collier were the author and illustrator joining the conference that year. Of course I got autographs! I remember spelling “Edi” for Myers (as I do often have to do so that I don’t get “Edie”) and he looked at me in a way that made me think maybe, maybe one of his characters will have that name.
Did you know Walter Dean Myers has the largest collection of African American photographs in the country?
He won the very first Michael J. Printz Award.
His first book was Where Does the Day Go? published by Parents Magazine Press in 1969.
I don’t have a lot of stories and references, just the experience of meeting him in books. Some I read before I knew what greatness he was but even then, it didn’t matter because I still had the same personal experience when I read Darius and Twig as I did reading Antarctica: Journey to the South Pole and Fast Sam, Cool Clyde and Stuff.
What are your memories of Myers and his work?
The tributes around the Internet help us realize how much we’ve lost and I think it through these words of others, Myers is still reaching us and still inspiring us. Someone close to him posted on his website.
To those of you who knew him better than I, I am regret you’ve lost someone so special. I pray that he rest in peace with perpetual light shining on him.
From here, the charge is clear. As Wade Hudson stated on Facebook “He fought tenaciously for change for more than 40 years. It is left to us to continue!!!”
Scheduled for release:
The Harlem Hellfighters: When Pride Met Courage written with Bill Miles (paperback release) 22 July
Hoops (paperback reprint) 23 September
On A Clear Day 23 September
Id B. Wells: Let the Truth Be Told written with Bonnie Christian January 2015