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A Memorial Service for Author Steven Kroll Will Take Place Wednesday, May 18, 2011
April 27, 2011
A memorial service for Steven Kroll will take place Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 5:30 pm in the Auditorium of Scholastic Inc., 557 Broadway, New York, New York. The author of 96 children’s books, Steven died this March from complications after surgery. To attend, please contact StevenKrollRSVP@aol.com.
Steven Kroll, 69, the author of 96 books for children, died March 8, 2011 in Lenox Hill Hospital in New York of complications from surgery. He lived in New York City and Bucks County, PA., where he organized the Author’s Table for the Tinicum Arts Festival every year.
Kroll grew up in Manhattan, and its eclectic neighborhoods and local characters inspired and appeared on the pages of his books. He wrote his first story, “The World is Made of Glass” at age 13 after walking along the lamp-lit cobblestones of Central Park one rainy evening.
Kroll might have become an artist. As a youngster he was accepted into the sculpture program at the Museum of Modern Art. He attended Hunter College Elementary and the McBurney School, editing the school literary magazine and graduating at the top of his class.
Upon graduating from Harvard in 1962, Kroll was offered two jobs: working for the Paris Review in Paris, or at Chatto and Windus, the esteemed London publishing house that had acquired the Hogarth Press. He chose the latter, and worked side-by-side with Leonard Wolf and Cecil Day Lewis. On the side he wrote reviews for The Spectator and helped edit the Transatlantic Review.
Kroll always said that his many smart, confident classmates at Harvard made him too intimidated to write his own books, so he edited the words of others. But after moving back to the States and an editing job at Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, Kroll decided it was time to try. In 1971 he moved to Maine, got a job teaching literature and started to write.
Many rejection slips later, a friend familiar with Kroll’s whimsical side suggested he write children’s books. He succeeded in getting published on his first try. “Is Milton Missing” (1975) tells the story of a very large dog lost in a very small city apartment.
Kroll’s books are known for their quirky charm as well as the valuable lessons they offer. In his best-known book, “The Biggest Pumpkin Ever” (1984), two little mice discover that it’s better to share. Teachers lauded the effect “Jungle Bullies” (2006) had on their students, one even claiming that after reading the book in class, bullying stopped.
“The Biggest Pumpkin Ever” became a New York Times best-selling series from Scholastic. Kroll had just completed working on the 6th title. Also coming out this year is a reissue from Art Speigelman’s new imprint of “That Makes Me Mad” with illustrations by “Eloise’s” Hilary Knight.
Kroll was on the Board of Trustees of the PEN American Center from1990-1996 and served as chair of the Young Adult/Children’s Committee. During that time, he welcomed many new children’s book writers to the organization, and planned many panels and public forums on censorship. He fought tirelessly to protect the rights of authors. He was also a member of the Author’s Guild, Books for Kids and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
First Lady Barbara Bush invited Kroll to the White House when she chose “One Tough Turkey” to read on national radio one Thanksgiving. The author traveled all over the world—Argentina, Brazil, China, Kenya, India, Fiji, and across the US--speaking about his books and inspiring students to write. He loved doing book signings as a way to meet his readers.
Kroll appreciated how fortunate he was to be able to do what he loved—write, travel, meet people, work with editors, exchange ideas, observe life, play tennis and enjoy the company of friends. As many friends have said, “Steven didn’t have a mean bone in his body,” and that might be his biggest tribute ever.
Steven Kroll is survived by his wife, Kathleen Beckett; a sister, June Anderson of Rutland, Vermont; a cousin, Jay Kaufman of Scarsdale, NY, and several nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held in the spring in NYC.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in honor of Steven Kroll to St. Joseph’s School, 1946 Bathgate Avenue, Bronx, NY 10457; Attention Janine Hughes.