for taking over.
Yesterday there was a well-deserved outpouring of gratitude for Jon Scieszka as he completed his superb tenure as the first National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Who, many wondered, could possibly top him?
No other, we learned yesterday afternoon, than the esteemed Katherine Paterson. Like Jon, Katherine is a remarkably diverse writer for children. She is best known for books like the moving and serious Bridge to Terabithia; perhaps less known is that she has a wicked sense of humor now on display over at the Exquisite Corpse Adventure. Anyone who has heard her speak knows that she is one of the smartest and wisest people in this world and well deserves every accolade and award that has come her way.
In 2003 I was fortunate enough to be in a writing group led by Katherine at Newnham College, Cambridge, England, part of one of the wonderful CLNE summer institutes. It was my first time in such a group and it was a pretty intimidating one as it included writers like Jennifer Armstrong and Elizabeth Partridge. It was also Katherine’s first time leading such a group and she was incredibly self-deprecating, kind, thoughtful, smart, and I will never forget that week together.
Ever since then she has been a mentor and a friend. I’ve visited her in Vermont and this fall she came to our school to engage with all of our fifth graders after they read her latest book, The Day of the Pelican.
A better choice I can’t imagine. So, thank you, selection committee for a brilliant choice and thank you, Katherine, for taking on this demanding, but incredibly important role.