Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Peter D. Sieruta

On March 25, 2011 on his "Collecting Children's Books" blog, Peter D. Sieruta wrote about Laura Adams Armer's Waterless Mountain, a story about a Navajo boy. He shared his thoughts about the book (it won the Newbery Medal in 1932) and then said:
I'd be curious to know what Dr. Debbie Reese, who writes the American Indians in Children's Literature blog thinks of the book.
I submitted a comment to Peter (you can see it and our conversation below), and we began talking on our blogs, on Facebook, and most recently, by email. We never met in person, but the few exchanges we had meant a lot to me. On Facebook, we went beyond the professional and scholarly conversations about books.

I felt bad when I read his Facebook post on May 21 (a Monday). He fell down the stairs on the 18th and broke his ankle. I posted on his wall about some research I've done on Scott O'Dell, hoping it might distract him from the dismal recovery he was having. In the weeks prior to that, Peter sent me a few articles about O'Dell. I was looking forward to conversations with him.

But on Saturday morning (May 26th) when I opened Facebook, I read that Peter had died.

I was stunned, and my thoughts have turned to him a lot since then. I've read several tributes to him and his work and I visit his Facebook page, where his brother is sharing memories of Peter. My tribute is this post, wherein I've gathered the exchanges I had with Peter. They are arranged chronologically.

March 25, 2011: Sunday Brunch with Fire and Water

Here's screenshots of our comments to each other (sorry they don't align properly):

April 1, 2012: Facebook
I loaded a photo of my husband's freshly-baked bread onto Facebook:

May 8th, 2012: Facebook
I couldn't access an article about Scott O'Dell and posted a 'help' to child_lit. A few minutes later, I was on Facebook and saw Peter's post to my wall:


May 13th, 2011: Sunday Brunch for Mothers and Maurice
In his last blog post on May 13th, Peter pointed his readers to my site, saying:
Debbie Reese's American Indians in Children's Literature is an important blog that "provides critical perspectives and analysis of indigenous peoples in children's and young adult books, the school curriculum, popular culture, and society." Do I always agree with Debbie? No, but I definitely respect her thought-provoking opinions. I've learned a lot from her blog and am pleased we are friends on Facebook. (And if anyone reading this wants to keep in touch with me on Facebook, feel free to "friend" me.)

This week Debbie posted the following paper doll figures on Facebook, with the message: "These two paper dolls are excellent! Please SHARE with students in Education or Library School."

I love them too and want to share them here:

These are the paper dolls he posted:

In his post, he quoted Steven Paul Judd, the Native artist who made the paper dolls. From there, he went on to talk about paper dolls based on characters in children's literature.

May 16th, 2012: Facebook

I posted a link to a Prezi I did about Scott O'Dell's Island of the Blue Dolphins. Peter viewed the Prezi and asked me a question:

Two days later, Peter fell. As many others have written, his death is a tragic loss to children's literature. Though we never met in person, I feel that I've lost a friend with whom I would have had lots of interesting conversations with about books like Island of the Blue Dolphins. 

I'm glad to have known Peter and like Elizabeth Bird so many others, I will miss him.

1 comment:

Professor Estevez said...

Your blog always educates me. And sometimes leaves me feeling sad...