LEVINE-Ellen. Ellen Levine, award-winning author, teacher, mentor, and passionate advocate for social justice, died peacefully on May 26 after a valiant battle with lung cancer. Her beloved spouse and partner of 40 years, Anne Koedt, her sister Mada Liebman and brother-in-law Burt Liebman were by her side. Ms. Levine graduated magna cum laude from Brandeis University, M.A. University of Chicago, and J.D. NYU School of Law. She was the author of fiction and non-fiction for children, young readers and adults that focused on important social issues and historical periods. Her rigorous research and devotion to accuracy made her stories compelling. "Henry's Freedom Box" (Caldecott Honor) is the true story of a slave who mailed himself to freedom; "Darkness Over Denmark" details the rescue of Jews by the Danes in World War II; "A Fence Away from Freedom" details the internment of Japanese Americans in the 1940s; "Freedom's Children,â€ a profile of young black civil rights activists in the 1960s, was termed "nothing short of wonderful" in a NY Times review; "I Hate English," about a Chinese girl struggling to learn English, has become a resource for ESL teachers. Her most recent novel, "In Trouble," the story of two pregnant girls in the l950's, reflects her profound belief that the right to choose abortion is an individual choice, and that whatever one's ultimate decision, it must be viewed with compassion and respect. Prior to her writing career, Ellen clerked for Chief Judge Joseph Lord, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and practiced law for the Prisoners Rights Project, NY Legal Aid Society. "I grew up," she wrote, "knowing there were battles to be fought and worlds to change." She is survived by her dear spouse Anne; her sister and brother-in-law Mada and Burt Liebman; niece and nephew Sara Liebman and Dan Liebman, niece-in-law Lis Davis; great-nephews Nathan Davis Liebman and Lucas Davis Liebman; and the many friends to whom she bequeathed joy and her indomitable spirit. Funeral services Wednesday, May 30 at 1:45pm, Plaza Funeral Home, 630 Amsterdam Ave. Donations to Planned Parenthood or a progressive agency of your choice.
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Published in The New York Times on May 29, 2012