by Tracy Barrett
Recently I sent a birthday card to an old friend. Usually, when you refer to someone as an “old friend” you hastily correct yourself with something like, “I mean someone I’ve known for a long time—not really old” (as though age was something to be ashamed of), but this time I mean both. I’ve known her since I was in kindergarten, and she’s old.
Jean Fritz turned 100 a few months ago. She and my mother were friends, and her daughter was occasionally our babysitter. When Mrs. Fritz dropped by for coffee, she would always ask what I had been reading and writing. I lived in a literary town outside New York City, and some grownups I knew were writers the way other grownups were dentists or teachers or business owners. It was just one more way that they spent their time.
On my seventh birthday Mrs. Fritz gave me an original illustration from my favorite of her books, The Cabin Faced West. It still hangs where I can see it when I sit down to write.
|The edition I had and loved|
Jean Fritz is better known for her nonfiction than her novels. Her memoir, Homesick, was awarded a Newbery Honor (rare for nonfiction) and won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.
Some other favorites: I, Adam; The Late Spring; Brady; And Then What Happened, Paul Revere?; Shh! We're Writing the Constitution.
Don’t forget those who came before us when looking for great books!