Sunday, May 27, 2012

Peter Sieruta, RIP

Today I am truly a blue-hearted bookworm.

Peter D. Sieruta, who authored the very excellent blog Collecting Children's Books, passed away suddenly on Friday.  I woke up to the bad news on Facebook this morning.  Since Peter loved children's literature with all his being, I don't feel shallow or trite in comparing it to that sucker-punch feeling I got while reading Bridge To Terebithia.  This is worse, though.  That character was fictional.  Peter was real.  Was! I despise this use of the past tense.

Several months ago, during Book Blogger Appreciation Week, I gave a shout-out to my favorite male bloggers.  Peter was high on that list:

 Peter from Collecting Children's Books.  After finding Peter's blog about a year and a half ago, I spent an entire weekend in my pajamas and in front of the computer and ignoring my phone calls so I could go back and read every single one of  his postings about Children's Literature.  And boy howdy, does he post!  This guy just knows and knows AND knows about that field and can make the most dazzling connections to other genres.  He's the trapeze artist of  bloggers.  I'm going be one of the first in line to buy his book when it's published.

Collecting Children's Books rekindled my interest in children's literature, so when an opportunity at work to teach that class presented itself, I was chomping at the bit.  I felt a little nervous at the prospect, but would have been so much more so if I hadn't been secure in the knowledge that if I got in over my head, that I only had to ask for help, and Peter would offer up his encyclopedic knowledge with all the sweetness and generosity of a kid letting another kid have a bite off the ears of his or her chocolate Easter bunny.

Because of Peter, I began going back and reading the Newbery medal winners I'd missed.  The last Readathon I did included three Newbery books and Shane, one of those books that, over time, takes on the mantle of an honorary children's book, although that was not the original intended audience.  As I read, I posted hourly, having a wonderful time.  Peter would pop in with thoughtful comments, delectable tidbits of information and always-welcome recommendations.  My delight seemed to be his delight.

We also shared a strong interest in Pulitzer fiction, and when the Pulitzer committee didn't confer an award last month for the first time in 35 years, Peter was the first person to commiserate with my perplexed splutterings.

I never met Peter Sieruta, but he was more real to me than some of my colleagues or students. Talk about books, authors, literature and everything concerning that world means a great deal to me.  Sometimes, I think it is my heart.  For a while, Peter and his blog spoke with great eloquence to that heart.

My condolences to his family, his friends, and the children's literature community. Some of you were lucky enough to be in more than one category.

 Here are tributes from Peter's co-authors Jules Danielson and Betsy Bird.


Unknown said...

This is a very nice post. I did not know Peter or his blog, but it's nice to see fellow book bloggers paying tribute to him none-the-less. Thank you.

Kate @Midnight Book Girl said...

I followed the link and was blown away by his blog! I'm sorry that you lost a blogging friend, but it's nice to know that his words, thoughts and opinions will live on. I only wish I had followed Peter prior to today.

Sean said...

Bybee, I share your sadness. I was shocked to learn of Peter's passing on Facebook yesterday. I discovered his blog about the same as you ... checking his blog for new posts was part of my morning routine. I will miss his posts and stories on Facebook so much.

CathyB said...

Peter's blog was a regular stop for me. I'm 15 years out of library school and his blog was like a master's class each time. I will miss his blog, his humor and his knowledge.
Cathy, Blue Willow Bookshop