Sunday, May 27, 2012

Death of a Blogger: Peter Sieruta, 1958-2012

This piece is likely to be a mess, so I apologize in advance.

Peter Sieruta, writer of collectingchildrensbooks.blogspot.com, has died.

I don't know why this man who is of an age with me is gone. It's shocking in an almost electrical sense.

How will anyone not in contact with his family know that he's died? His brother spoke through his Facebook status, probably only because Peter had left his computer logged in. What if his blog is not logged in? What if his readers who don't visit him on Facebook, or his future readers, will never know that he has died?

Why would that matter? It matters to me because I don't want anyone to think that Peter is just another blogger who wrote for a while and then suddenly stopped. I don't want his voice to disappear, just because he has left us.

Selfishly, I am grateful to the interweb for bringing Peter to me. I discovered his blog in 2008. I don't remember what I was searching when I found it, but I instantly recognized a member of my age cohort who loved a lot of the same books I did from growing up in the later years of the Baby Boom. I loved his voice, his sense of humor, and his slightly doofy self-deprecation.

Reading him and soon seeing comments from authors, including Newbery-winners, in response to his posts, I realized this guy was something special. His April Fool's Day posts are legends. (Similar to this Hornbook review he wrote in 1989).

Since then, Peter has inspired my writing a week of posts about Virginia Lee Burton, a review of Barbara Corcoran's A Star to the North, about being a graduate of the public library, about the illustrator Evaline Ness, and most recently about the aroma of old books. He pointed me to the Ellen Raskin tapes housed at the University of Wisconsin.

He loved M.E. Kerr and Sandra Scoppettone, didn't care for Sharon Creech's Walk Two Moons, and recently helped select Pete Hautmann's brilliant The Big Crunch for the L.A. Times Book Award. He was opinionated but kind. He helped me identify several books I recalled from junior high by only a few details; he was brilliant at that.

And the interweb didn't bring Peter to me alone. It brought him to the world, including the world of children's literature, connecting him with authors, bookstores, and publishers. It put him in touch with other writers in the field, and led to a contract to cowrite a book with fellow bloggers Elizabeth Bird of A Fuse #8 Production and Jules Danielson of Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. (I believe the tentative title is Wild Things! The True, Untold Stories Behind the Most Beloved Children’s Books and Their Creators.) Now, I look forward to its publication date even more.

Death in the age of the interweb: it just gets stranger and sadder. Thank you, Peter.

_______

Here are remembrance by his coauthors Elizabeth Bird and Jules Danielson.

6 comments:

Amy Goldman Koss said...

I also only knew him through the web and initialy felt I wasn't intitled to be sad. Odd thought for a writer, i know, but we learn slowly.... dragged along by our emotions. Sad.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

The first time we experience the sudden death of a blog friend, or simply a blogger we follow, teaches us that our blogging connections can be quite significant human connections. This man contributed to your life and your sense of self. And BTW, your piece is not a mess and does not require an apology. Thanks for making others aware of him.

Ms Sparrow said...

I have lost two blog friends over the years and both times I felt a great loss. In both cases, they died far too young. They were promising writers with heart problems, and it still makes me sad.

Bybee said...

I know how you feel, because I feel the same way. I kept bursting into tears all day on Sunday.

Blythe Woolston said...

I hope his blog can be archived and preserved--as is appropriate for the collected papers of a scholar. I will miss his connections, the element of surprise and delight he shared as a reader.

Betty MacDonald Fan Club said...

We miss Peter Sieruta very much.

Peter Sieruta was a huge Betty MacDonald fan it was wonderful to be in contact with him.

What a loss!

We miss Peter Sieruta very much!