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AH, AUGUST ...

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Monday, 12 August 2013
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HOORAY!  August l3th is the official publication of ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE (Creative Editions), illustrated by Guy Billout.  Based on Shakespeare's "Seven Ages of Man" monologue from AS YOU LIKE IT, this anthology brings together poetry from birth to old age from 'entrances' to 'exits'.

The book begins with Rebecca Kai Dotlich's brilliant piece of work "Amazing Face II" heralding the birth of a child.  Lines from the poem include:

"You will cry for someone,/jingle keys, trace a warm cheek./You will skip, stumble, soar/You will climb a ladder to the stars...".

A sad observation is that ...STAGE is only the second of two anthologies to be published in the United States in 2013.  There should be more ...and more.  Anthology offers a blending of so many voices to mesh as one.

Plans are underway to begin registration for the Fifth Annual Lee Bennett Hopkins/Edison State Writers Institute at Edison State in Ft. Myers, Florida.  Speakers this year, on October 26, include Patricia MacLachlan, Newbery Award winner for SARAH, PLAIN AND TALL, and Stephen Alcorn, illustrator of many award-winning books, including my MARY'S SONG (Eerdmans) - a 2013 First Place Catholic Book Award.  For those in Florida see EDISON STATE at my site.

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MID-JULY-ING

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Friday, 12 July 2013
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Summer months are typically slow in the publishing industry yet many exciting things have happened during June/early July.

My YA novel, WONDER WHEELS, penned over three decades ago is now available on www.amazon/kindle which is quite a surprise.  The novel is based on a tragic experience I went through in my younger years.

MARY'S SONG (Eerdmans) continues to glow with the help of Stephen Alcorn's wondrous illustrations.  In June, The Catholic Press Association awarded the book first place in the Children's Book/Teens category stating:

"An exquisite rendering of the age-old story of the birth of Jesus.  The illustrations are truly captivating while the text summons silence at the wonder of nature itself.  The story, when read aloud to children will be awe-inspiring and the illustrations will leaves traces on a child's heart."

Could anything be better than to 'leave traces on a child's heart'?

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ON "...WHEELS"

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Monday, 17 June 2013
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WONDER WHEELS is now available on Kindle.  WONDER WHEELS, my second novel for young adult readers was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1979 --- 34 years ago.

It quickly went into a paperback edition with Dell who just reprinted my first novel, MAMA, still in print with Boyds Mills Press, and went through at least four printings.

It received an International Reading Association/Children's Book Council Choice Award in l980 and was optioned for a TV film, which, of course didn't happen -- as yet!

WONDER WHEELS is based on a senseless, tragic incident from my own youth. Needless to say I am quite surprised - after over three decades -- it can be read by a new generation.


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MID-MAYING

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Tuesday, 14 May 2013
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MAY!  Or where did April go?  I had a wondrous birthday, celebrated with family and a host of great friends.

I so enjoyed my first SKYPE interview with the effervescent, Renee La Tulippe -- one who truly does her homework.  Since the piece aired in late April, Renee counted over 1200 hits.  Now on youtube it continues to be seen.  If you missed it go to www.nowaterriver.com   While at the site enjoy many of Renee's series of poets and poetry.

Final plans are being firmed up for the Edison State College Lee Bennett Hopkins Writers Institute to be held October 26.

Featured speakers - two people close to my heart -- will be here -- Patricia MacLachlan and Stephen Alcorn who recently illustrated my MARY'S SONG (Eerdmans).  Stephen and I have done a host of books together. I've known Patty for eons.  It will be like 'ol' home week!'

Although ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE won't be released until August, I should be getting a bound copy prior to publication dae.  This YA collection based on a Shakespeare monologue from AS YOU LIKE IT is set in seven acts -- from "Entrances" to "Exits".  Startling, stylized paintings by Guy Billout mesh poetry -- old and new -- from J. Patrick Lewis to Lewis Carroll, Walt Whitman to Janet Wong -- bringing the genre to new dimensions.

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APRIL-ING ALONG...

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Monday, 01 April 2013
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It is hard to believe I turn 75 on April l3th.  I keep thinking of Sondheim's song from FOLLIES -- "I'm Still Here."

It is POETRY MONTH.  I did a long SKYPE visit with Renee La Tulippe for her www.nowaterriver.com site. Renee is incredibly charming, witty, and always excited about poetry.  The interview, conducted from her home in Piombino, Italy, is scheduled to air on April 29th.  It was such fun talking face-to-face from Italy to my study in Cape Coral, Florida.

This is the first SKYPE I have ever done -- it was influenced by Renee who shamed me (for a long, long time) into setting up a SKYPE program.  I'm so glad she did.  I'll post the interview as soon as it is aired.

On the publishing front:  Even with a top agency and stellar publishing houses, it seems everything is slower than ever before.  There is -- tomorrow, next week, next month, a few more months -- on and on.  Things finally happen -- but ...!

I have works finished with publishing dates through 2016!

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REMEMBERING NANCY WOOD

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Friday, 15 March 2013
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NANCY WOOD - JUNE 20,1936 - MARCH 12, 2013

 

Although she lived, loved and died in New Mexico, she was born in Trenton, New Jersey.  In a letter to me in 1994, she said:

"I grew up in Trenton, mostly, but also spent a fair amount of time in Atlantic City with my Irish bootlegger grandfather, who taught me how to fish, clam, swear, play poker, drink whiskey, and bet on horses -- before I was ten years old!  He was also one the founders of the Miss America pageant."

 

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MARCH! MARCH! MARCH!

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Tuesday, 05 March 2013
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It only happens every three years that both the Lee Bennett Hopkins/Penn State Poetry Award and the Lee Bennett Hopkins/International Reading Association (IRA) Promising New Poet Award are given.  This year the Penn State Award goes to Kate Coombs for WATER SINGS BLUE: OCEAN POEMS, illustrated by Meilo So (Chronicle Books):

"For the water sings blue and the sky does too, and the

sea lets you fly like a gull."

The IRA Award goes to Guadalupe Garcia McCall for UNDER THE MESQUITE, (Lee & Low), a tender verse novel which Alma Flor Ada calls "A magnificent new voice in Latino literature." When Lupita, a high school freshman, one of eight children born in Mexico, learns her mother is diagnosed with cancer, Lupita's courage to deal with a life tragedy is revealed.

Two enormous projects are underway, both in revision stages.  Revision --  part of the writing process I detest until it is over with.  It is hard, horrid, cruel -- yet, at times, exhilarating.

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ANOTHER FEBRUARY...

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Thursday, 07 February 2013
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Charles and I returned from a seven-night cruise aboard OASIS OF THE SEAS -- one of those lifetime events.  Photos appear on my fb page.

Of course, one comes back to reality to several million emails, mail, et. al. -- all of which will probably take up the rest of the month.

At the end of this month the Lee Bennett Hopkins/Penn State University Poetry Award will be announced.

It is hard to believe the Award was established twenty years ago --the first and only Award of its kind for poetry in the United States.  This year's winner will be the 2lst choice.  A gala event is being planned at State College in late September.

 

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REMEMBERING GERALD MCDERMOTT

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Saturday, 12 January 2013
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We met in 1973 at at ALA convention soon after he won a 1972 Caldecott Honor Book For ANANSI THE SPIDER: A TALE FROM THE ASHANTI (Holt).

Already a prominent artist, Gerald was also a filmaker.  His film version of ANANSI, was hailed by Wilson Library Bulletin as "the two most popular children's films produced in 1970".

Famous.  Young.  Dashing.  And -- looking for free lance work.

I was working at Scholastic at the time trying to get him some work. Oddly enough, he was a winner of a Scholastic Arts Award while he was in high school.

Years come.  Years go.  We met at many conventions always finding time to get together for something.  We talked and talked and laughed.  Gerald was infectious, witty, brilliant about the art of bookmaking.  A treasure.

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2013-ING

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Wednesday, 09 January 2013
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A new year.  An exciting newfound major project has begun.  Older ideas are being looked over.  Frustration continues within the 'industry'.  No one seems to know where it is going -- or where it went.  Yet, life moves forward, we find new ways.  We have before.  We will again.

 

I am overwhelmed with the reactions to MARY'S SONG (Eerdmans), the words and Stephen Alcorn's artwork touched so many -- and continues to do so.

 

Anticipation of a new book always causes a stir of excitement.  This summer/fall it is my YA collection, ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE (Creative Editions), illustrated by Guy Billout.  The anthology takes readers through Shakespeare's "Seven Ages of Man" monologue from AS YOU LIKE IT -- from a child beautifully coming into the world via Rebecca Kai Dotlich's new version of "Amazing Face" to a verse by Cynthia Cotten ending:

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DECEMBER-ING

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Saturday, 08 December 2012
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I did not get to a November post.  Where that month went is a mystery.

October ended with our 4th Annual Writing Institute at Edison State College, Ft. Myers -- a memorable day.  Gregory Maguire (WICKED) and illustrator, Bill Farnsworth gave outstanding presentations.  We all look forward to next year when the guest speaker will be Patricia MacLachlan, author of SARAH, PLAIN AND TALL (HarperCollins).

Then -- BLINK! -- November came and went with a delightful visit from Steve Herb of Penn State University, a host of meetings, and too many social gatherings.  Living in Florida is like being at a full-time party!

December entered in with an incredible day at Barnes & Noble, Ft. Myers, when I autographed books for the Early Coalition of SW Florida, a dedicated organization to bring books into the hands of children who never owned one before -- a fact hard to believe as we approach 2013.

The rest of December is merry-making - from start to finish. Christmastime here is quite magical.  Houses are decorated to the hilt.  There are concerts, theatre, a production of THE NUTCRACKER, gala parties.  Florida truly jingles lots of bells.  It helps when the weather is in the 80's.

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OCTOBER-ING

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Wednesday, 03 October 2012
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Final planning for our BIG EVENT here in Ft. Myers at Edison State College will take up most of the month.  The Fourth Annual Lee Bennett Hopkins Writing Institute on October 27, features Gregory Maguire, author of children's books, literary criticism, and adult novels including WICKED: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST (HarperCollins) and three books in the series that followed.

Bill Farnsworth, illustrator of over 50 children's books and a fine artist of portraits and landscapes will also be presenting.  It should prove to be a most memorable morning.  For information click on EDISON STATE.

Plans are underway for next year's 5th Institute to feature Patricia MacLachlan, author of the classic SARAH, PLAIN AND TALL (HarperCollins).

I will post more should I get the chance,meanwhile...I am WICKED-LY busy!

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FOREVER MOURNING...

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Monday, 10 September 2012
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OCTOBER MOURNING: A SONG FOR MATTHEW SHEPARD (Candlewick Press) by Leslea Newman, is heartfelt, harrowing, shocking, stirring; one of the most powerful verse novels I have ever read.

Newman pens 68 poems dealing with the insanely tragic death of Matthew Shepard, a gay twenty-one year old, who was savagely beaten, tied down to a fence and left to die in Laramie, Wyoming, on October 6, 1998, by two young men.

This is a volume that must be bought for every high school in the country.  It is a book that cannot escape from my mind or heart.

The treatise is beyond brilliant.  We not only get a point of view of people involved in Shepard's death, we get a glimpse of the most unusual subjects.

"Witness," a haiku, packs more wallop in l7 syllables than anything I ever read or heard about this brutal, vicious crime:

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SEPTEMBER-ING

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Tuesday, 04 September 2012
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Or where did August go?

 

September will be a busy month.  A long interview for "Poetry at Play" will soon appear, J. Patrick Lewis, Children's Poet Laureate, and dear friend, selected my book SHARING THE SEASONS, illustrated by the incredible David Diaz (see TITLES) as a Book of the Month which is a nice surprise. David's artwork for ...SEASONS is breathtaking.  After decades of talking about doing a book together, we finally did!

I am at work on a new picture book and revising an adult novel which I've put off for too long.

MARY'S SONG received its first major review from KIRKUS stating "...ethereal and filled with golden light...A lyrical, unusual viewpoint of the Nativity story, seamlessly matched with gorgeous illustrations that are unlike other interpretations of the Christ Child's birth."  Thanks, again, to Stephen Alcorn for his golden hands.

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MOTHER BEAR AND ME - ELSE HOLMELUND MINARIK

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Saturday, 14 July 2012
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Else Holmelund Minarik died Thursday, July l2, at the age of 91. We met in the late 1960's when I was doing BOOKS ARE BY PEOPLE (Citation Press, 1969).  Maurice Sendak made the connection.

Being extremely shy and very guarded about her private life, I was shocked when she decided to meet to have lunch.  After many questions which she didn't answer I finally asked, "Why did you come to meet me?" (I was in my last twenties and was impatient with her).  She answered: "Only because you're a friend of Maurice's and I didn't want to disappoint him!"

Her first book, LITTLE BEAR (HarperCollins) appeared in 1957,first in the I CAN READ series under the editorial direction of Ursula Nordstrom.  LITTLE BEAR was illustrated by Maurice.  The book was sparked by her teaching first graders and their 'need to read something of substance'. The book was dedicated to her first husband, Walter and her only daughter, Brooke, who died before her.

During our lunch at a rather tony Italian restaurant she opened up to me, talked about life in her beloved New Hampshire -- working in an apple orchard with old varieties of trees -- grimes and golden apples, pied quails' eggs.

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CHRISTMAS IN JULY

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Thursday, 05 July 2012
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I do not recall this ever happening before.  MARY'S SONG (Eerdmans) was to be released this coming October.  Due to an internet demand the book was officially published at the end of last month.

 

When I received the bound copy I went back to my notes finding I wrote the manuscript in 2007.  I barely remember writing it.  I did know if the book was ever to be published it would be dedicated:

To my sister Donna Lee Venturi--

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CHARLOTTE ZOLOTOW & THE LOVELY PRESENT

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Tuesday, 26 June 2012
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TODAY, CHARLOTTE ZOLOTOW'S 97th birthday got me reminiscing.  In the early 1980's, Charlotte invited me to lunch. We had alread done several books together and met to discuss future projects.  At some point in an always fascinating conversation, I mentioned there were I CAN READ books of history, mystery, picture books -- yet -- there had never been an I CAN READ book of poetry.

Charlotte, literally, dropped her fork, looked at me and said, "Do it!  Do it!"  I did.  I could write endlessly about the book's development; perhaps another time.  SURPRISES, published in 1984, illustrated by Megan Lloyd became the first I CAN READ book of poetry.

SURPRISES was starred in School Library Journal, became a Best Book of the Year, was published in the United Kingdom, became a best-selling paperback and went on to receive a multitude of further accolades.

1984!  Almost three decades later the book is still in print.  Thank you again, dear Charlotte.

I dedicated the book to:  William C. Morris -- a good book friend" which he was.  I didn't realize at the time this was the first book ever dedicated to Bill, a great individual.

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MAURICE SENDAK AND I

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Thursday, 10 May 2012
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SENDAKMAURICE AND I met in the late l960's after ...WILD THINGS.  We met at meetings -- here, there, hither, yon. He was the first author I interviewed for BOOKS ARE BY PEOPLE (Citation Press, 1969).  He asked to see what I wrote about him.  He liked it.  He encouraged me to go ahead with a project of interviewing 104 authors and illustrators for the book.

Prior to BOOKS ARE BY PEOPLE being published, I was in contact with Dr. Richard Bamberger, then editor of the international journal BOOKBIRD.  Richard wrote asking about my book, especially in regard to my interview with Maurice.  In a letter dated 2/2/l968, he wrote from Vienna:

"It would be very interesting for our readers to get introduced more information about this famous illustrator" (sic)

The interview appeared in the 3/69 issue of BOOKBIRD.  The lead article was was written by another dear friend, Lloyd Alexander, reprinted from THE HORN BOOK (4/1968).

In l977, at an NCTE meeting in New York City, I put together a panel, "Journey of a Book" with Joan Robins, promotion director at Harper, Misha Arenstein, a teacher in Scarsdale, Ursula Nordstrom and Maurice!  What an afternoon.  Rather than speaking to the audience Ursula and Maurice had a toy-telephone, back-and-forth conversation about working together.  The ballroom was packed.  We had about an hour.  No one would leave.  It went on -- and on.  The session was taped on a small 8-track tape.  I cannot find it anywhere. I don't even think NCTE could locate it at this time.  If so, it would be a rarity...a true collector's item.  What a loss!  Ursula and Maurice talking together!

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MAY-ING

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Saturday, 05 May 2012
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IT IS MAY -- or how could April pass by so quickly!

I begin by congratulating Sylvia Vardell on her gargantuan production of THE POETRY TEACHER'S BOOK OF LISTS.  Everything about it, including a quote from me, can be found at www.poetryteachersbookoflists.blogspot.com 

This is a resource for everyone to bring poetry and children of all ages together.  There is simply nothing like this volume.  Every school and public library should have copies.

The Lee Bennett Hopkins/Penn State Poetry Award was given to Lee Wardlaw for her book, WON TON: A CAT TALE TOLD IN HAIKU (Holt).  There was one honor book, HIDDEN, by the incredible Helen Frost (Farrar, Straus & Giroux).  WON TON is the 20th book to receive the award.  It is hard to believe that twenty years ago Ashley Bryan received the first award for SING TO THE SUN (HarperCollins).  The first event was held at the Governor's Mansion in Pennsylvania on a very rainy night.  Ashley and I have been friends for a very long time...long before he wrote ...SUN.

I was happy to receive a contract for a forthcoming book which I am plunging into with great enthusiasm after completing work a new book of poems (more about that one at a later date!)

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HAPPY APRIL

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Friday, 30 March 2012
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DR_SEUSS2April and I turn another year chronologically on the l3th -- Friday the l3th.  Thank goodness I am not superstitious.  I say 'chronologically' because there are two very nasty words I cannot utter -- 'old(er)' and 'retire(ed)'.

April l9th, I deliver a talk at Edison State College in Fort Myers, Florida, for the Edison Speaker Series as part of their 50th Anniversary celebration.  The talk is "Celebrity Encounters in Writing."  Thus, back to the late 1960's, early '70's, when I hopped hither and yon interviewing close to 200 authors and illustrators of books for children.  What memories.

Working on the speech gave me impetus to delve into a bevy of files -- pulling out a host of memorabilia.

The letter on the left is, of course, from Ted Geisel, Dr. Seuss, who sent the greeting to me in 1991, on the publication of a collection I did, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, where I included a verse   from his HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU (Random House, 1959).  Along with the note I received a copy of his ...BIRTHDAY TO YOU, warmly autographed. 

 "HILARY' in the note refers to Hilary Knight, the wondrous illustrator of the ELOISE series, who illustrated my SIDE BY SIDE and HAPPY BIRTHDAY (both Simon & Schuster; both long out of print).

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