R.I.P. Amy Schwartz, 68, in Feb. ("Bea & Mr. Jones," 1982)
From Lenona@21:1/5 to All on Wed Mar 15 13:55:19 2023
Awards (these may not be complete):
Parents' Choice Award, Parents' Choice Foundation, 1989, for The Crack-of-Dawn Walkers and The Lady Who Put Salt in Her Coffee;
Sydney Taylor Award, Association of Jewish Libraries for Mrs. Moskowitz and the Sabbath Candlesticks;
Parents' Certificate of Excellence for Annabelle Swift, Kindergartner; Christopher Award for The Purple Coat;
Ten Best Illustrated Children's Books designation, New York Times Book Review, for A Teeny Tiny Baby;
Best Children's Books of the Year citation, School Library Journal, and 100 Best Children's Books citation, New York Public Library, both 1982, both for Bea and Mr. Jones;
National Jewish Book Award for Mrs. Moskowitz and the Sabbath Candlesticks.
Eleven years before the first Take Our Daughters to Work Day, Amy Schwartz envisioned a Send Your Daughter to Work in Your Place Day.
That is the plot of Ms. Schwartz’s first book for young children, “Bea and Mr. Jones,” or half of it; the other half of the story is that while Bea is filling in for her dad at the office, Mr. Jones, Bea’s father, spends the day as a
The book, written and illustrated by Ms. Schwartz and published in 1982 to good notices, hit the little-kid sweet spot and probably amused a fair number of parents too: Mr. Jones, a frustrated advertising executive, finds a renewed joie de vivre as an
unusually bright kindergartner, and Bea becomes “president of toy sales” at the ad agency.
In July 1983, “Bea and Mr. Jones” enjoyed a fresh burst of attention when Madeline Kahn read it on the third episode of a new public television series aimed at young viewers, “Reading Rainbow.”
Ms. Schwartz was on her way in a career that would eventually include dozens of books for children, including “Things I Know How to Do,” scheduled to be published next month.
She died on Feb. 26 at her home in Brooklyn. She was 68. Her husband, Leonard S. Marcus, a historian of children’s books, said the cause was cardiovascular disease.
Ms. Schwartz was an artist by training and illustrated a number of children’s stories written by others, but when she first moved to New York in the late 1970s and was having no luck building a career as an illustrator, some editors suggested that it
would help if she were presenting a completed book as part of her portfolio. “Bea and Mr. Jones” was one of the results.
Her books included several on the theme of “100 Things,” written in rhyme — “100 Things That Make Me Happy” (2014), “100 Things I Love to Do With You” (2017), “100 Things I Know How to Do” (2021). Among her most recent books was “13
Stories About Ayana” (2022), a follow-up of sorts to her “13 Stories About Harris” from two years before...
Author-illustrator Amy Schwartz, best known for her warm, humorous tales with a kid-centered point of view, and her equally distinctive gouache and pen-and-ink artwork, died suddenly on February 26 at her home in Brooklyn. She was 68.
Schwartz was born April 2, 1954 in San Diego, Calif., where she grew up the third of four daughters of Henry, a writer, and Eva, a chemistry professor. A self-described quiet and studious child, “I loved to read from the start,” Schwartz wrote in her
autobiography for Something About the Author. She fondly remembered a house where books were treasured, family read-alouds, and frequent trips to the library. She also enjoyed art and, from an early age, spent lots of her free time painting and drawing.
Schwartz excelled in high school and earned enough credits to allow her to graduate midway through her senior year and begin studies—including art classes—at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. But a year and a half later, she transferred to the
California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, where she majored in drawing and earned her B.F.A. in 1976. After graduation, she worked a seasonal job at a Berkeley costume shop while continuing to draw and search for illustration jobs.
When Schwartz eventually landed a gig illustrating The Breakfast Book (1979) as well as a second title for Chronicle Books, she believed she was finding her footing in the literary world. Around this time, she also took a keener interest in children’s
book illustration, inspired by an art school friend pursuing the same career track, and encouraged by her experience taking a four-session children’s book illustration course in San Francisco. With new confidence in her illustration work, Schwartz set
off for a brief stay in New York City to make the rounds of publishers with her portfolio. Though no assignments came of that first attempt, Schwartz received some advice that stuck: several editors suggested she might have a better shot of selling a
project if she also wrote her own text. She then decided to move to New York on a more permanent basis, taking a clerical job and enrolling in a children’s book illustration and writing course at the School for Visual Arts.
Things began to click for Schwartz professionally when she submitted two projects from her SVA coursework around town and soon caught the interest of publishers. She was working as a production assistant at Simon & Schuster when her first picture book,
Bea and Mrs. Jones, featuring a kindergartener and her advertising executive father who swap places, was published by Bradbury Press in 1982. That same year the book was cited in the New York Public Library’s selection of 100 Best Children’s Books...