In Memoriam: Russell Hoban 1925-2011 December 26, 2011Posted by ccbooks in Analysis.
The world lost several fine children’s book writers this year before I began this blog. Ana and I are still planning to remember the wonderful work of Brian Jacques and Diana Wynne Jones at some point in the near future. More recently, however, we lost the author of one of the formative influences of my childhood, Frances from the book Bread and Jam for Frances, the master Russell Hoban.
Hoban is one of those authors about whom I know very little, but I can always recognize his work. As a kid, I loved Frances, who was a picky eater like me, didn’t always get along with her friends or little sister but tried her best to do the right thing. Frances is stubborn and realistic and along with her friend Albert, goes all out in setting up her elaborate lunch tables (why didn’t I ever get vases with flowers to go on our cafeteria table?).
Hoban wrote many other fine books for children. I read The Mouse and his Child one slow afternoon working at the bookstore. I watched the Jim Henson version of Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas and then found the book in the library and re-read it. We even sang “Where the River meets the Sea” in one of the music groups I was in during college.
But it is Frances that I know I, and probably most people, will remember Hoban for. She may be a badger, but I recognized myself as a child in her, and I know that many others did the same. For a children’s writer, that is the ultimate goal for a character you created to achieve.