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Steven Kroll Obituary
Steven Kroll
Steven Kroll, 69, the author of 96 books for children, died Tuesday, March 8, 2011, in Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, NY, of complications from surgery. He lived in New York City and Bucks County, PA, where he organized the Authors 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 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 all his 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 Krolls whimsical side suggested he try writing childrens 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. Krolls books are known for their quirky charm as well as the valuable lessons they offer. In his best-known book, The Biggest Pumpkin Ever, two little mice discover that its 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 turned into 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 Speigelmans new imprint of That Makes Me Mad with illustrations by Eloises Hilary Knight. Kroll was on the Board of Trustees of the PEN American Center from 1990-1996 and served as chair of the Young Adult/Childrens Committee. During that time, he welcomed many new childrens 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 Authors Guild, Books for Kids and the Society of Childrens 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, and often appeared at the Book Garden in Frenchtown, NJ, Farleys in New Hope, PA, and Book Tenders in Doylestown, PA. Kroll appreciated how fortunate he was to be able to do what he loved-write, travel, meet people, work with editors, exchange ideas, play tennis and enjoy the company of friends. As many friends have said, Steven didnt have a mean bone in his body, and that might be his biggest tribute ever. Survivors: 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. Services: A private service will be held in Upper Black Eddy, PA, with a Public Memorial Service to be scheduled in the spring in New York City. Contributions: In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in honor of Steven Kroll to St. Josephs School, 1946 Bathgate Avenue, Bronx, NY 10457; Attention Janine Hughes. Arrangements are by the Bernard Suess Funeral Home, 606 Arch Street, Perkasie, PA.www.suessfuneralhome.net
Published in Morning Call on Mar. 10, 2011
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