Peter D. Sieruta, Collector of Children’s Books
I never met Peter D. Sieruta, but I knew him in that uniquely 21st century way – through his blog and our online interactions. From my contact with him, this much I know is true: Peter was funny, he was smart, he was humble, and he will be missed.
While his career as a reader, writer, librarian and critic was long, I’ll remember him best for his conversational take on children’s and young adult literature in his hugely influential blog Collecting Children’s Books. Early on, I remember reading his staggeringly good piece about a high school friendship formed over the written word, and knew that I could never miss another post. I tried my best not to. After reading another particularly interesting “Sunday Brunch” (and I can’t pick it out because every Sunday Brunch was particularly interesting), I felt compelled to send Peter an out-of-the-blue email, encouraging him to have his blog turned into a book.
I was so pleased to hear his response:
Actually, some entries from my blog ARE going to appear in a book. Betsy Bird (A Fuse #8 Production), Julie Danielson (Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast) and I are writing a book for Candlewick called WILD THINGS : THE UNTOLD STORIES BEHIND AMERICA’S FAVORITE CHILDREN’S BOOKS; it’s an irreverent collection of stories and anecdotes.
I was amazed at the time and care he took in replying to my message. He went on to talk about the book – the stories that would be included and some of the challenges in unearthing them. There’s no doubt it will be first-class, and I’ll be first in line to read it.
I felt a pride in the fact that Peter was a fellow Michigander – like somehow his thoughtfulness and talent would rub off being close in location. As I write this, I have a Word document called “Questions for Peter” open. I started it a year or two ago, adding things I hoped to ask him about when I got the chance. And plans were being made – friends Ed Spicer, Cindy Dobrez and I were trying to schedule a meeting this summer, until a recent ankle injury put things on hold.
From Peter’s Facebook page, I understand his funeral service will be taking place soon. A lot of people will be thinking of him – even people he’d never met. While I am one of those people, I’m thankful I had the chance, through his work, to know him.
Peter Sieruta is also remembered at…
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About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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