I first became acquainted with Peter Sieruta about a dozen years ago on the child_lit listserv. We shared a love of children’s books, young adult books, and theater. And we developed a daily correspondence over the next several years that allowed me to appreciate Peter’s wit and wisdom on a wide range of topics, both personal and professional.
I’d like to think I was his special BFF, but I’m sure he carried on a dozen such correspondences at any given time, and he had a knack for being especially warm and cordial with even the most casual of acquaintances. I visited Detroit several times to present seminars and offered to meet him face-to-face on those occasions, but it never worked out. Not surprisingly, I might add, since Peter was extremely shy, preferring letter writing to personal visits and phone calls.
Our correspondence had tapered off to several times a year, but we always looked forward to checking in with each other, especially when speculating about awards–Newbery, Printz, Tonys. This post on the eve of last year’s Newbery announcement exemplified his inimitable style and inexhaustible store of book knowledge.
I’ve often thought of Peter and his legacy in these past months, fondly remembering the things you might expect–his endless supply of juicy book gossip, his kindness and gratitude, his keen intellect and generous spirit–but also random arbitrary details–his amusing anecdotes about co-workers and car trouble and conversations about favorite TV shows and restaurants.
Won’t you please take a few moments at the close of this year to share some of your own treasured Peter Sieruta memories? And perhaps together we can cobble together a fitting tribute for him. I do not think we shall see the likes of him again.
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About Jonathan Hunt
Jonathan Hunt is the Coordinator of Library Media Services at the San Diego County Office of Education. He served on the 2006 Newbery committee, and has also judged the Caldecott Medal, the Printz Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. You can reach him at email@example.com
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