Stella Pevsner, 98 (YA novelist: "And You Give Me a Pain, Elaine," 1978)
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2020-06-21 03:21:49 UTC
She died in Albuquerque.


By Shannon Maughan | Jun 16, 2020

Most of it:

...Pevsner kept writing on her own and also took creative writing courses in college, studying at Illinois State for two years, but her aim back then was to become a teacher. Her teaching career proved brief, however. Pevsner taught for two years, then during a summer spent in Chicago, she accompanied a friend who was signing up for an advertising course. She enrolled, as well, and found something she loved to do. Throughout the 1940s, Pevsner landed a series of jobs writing advertising copy for a drugstore, a department store, and ad agencies before becoming the promotion director at a perfume house.

In 1953, she left advertising when she married Leo Pevsner, a surgeon, with whom she would raise four children in the Chicago suburbs. Pevsner paired her busy life as a mother with a freelance career writing articles for the local paper as well as a children’s play and other projects. But it wasn’t until she received a request from one of her sons that she changed course. Her son told her how disappointed he was that his favorite author—Beverly Cleary—wasn’t turning out books fast enough for his liking. “He said to me, ‘I guess you’ll have to do it.’ ” She accepted the challenge, and the following fall, when her children returned to school, Pevsner turned her attention to writing what would become her first children’s book, Break a Leg! (Crown, 1969). “I’d never enjoyed writing so much,” she wrote in Something About the Author. “I was buoyed by my kids’ interest in reading ‘the next chapter’ when they banged back into the house in what seemed to me just minutes after they’d left.”

Following her debut, Pevsner said the ideas for more books came quickly and she wrote prolifically, drafting lighter fare early on, then moving into what she called “deeper” subject matter like divorce, dyslexia, sibling rivalry, and suicide. Among her most recognized titles were A Smart Kid Like You (Seabury, 1975), And You Give Me a Pain, Elaine (Seabury, 1978), Sister of the Quints (Ticknor & Fields, 1987) and How Could You Do It, Diane? (Clarion, 1989).


By Thomas Frisbie.

First half:

When Stella Pevsner reflected on the 18 children’s books she had written over her long career, she realized her later books always seemed to feature a girl around 10 years old — sassy but charming in her own way.

When she mentioned that to her son Charles, he said, “Well, in one guise or another, they’re really all you.”

Ms. Pevsner, an award-winning author who’d been a longtime Chicago area resident, died peacefully Thursday at her home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at 98.

Colleagues recalled her as a writer dedicated to her craft who also had an impish sense of humor.

“She was an elegant woman and a great writer,” said teacher and Chicago author Craig Sautter. “She had a great spirit and a great sense of humor. She had some really important books.”

Ms. Pevsner, a former president of the Society of Midland Authors, began writing children’s books after a career in advertising and freelance writing because her son Stuart said his favorite author, Beverly Cleary, “didn’t write fast enough.” So Ms. Pevsner said she would write books for him.

She went on to win numerous awards and was named the Illinois children’s book author of the year in 1987.

“She was a pioneer in children’s writing, and I have heard many children’s authors say she favorably influenced their work,” said author Richard Lindberg. “She radiated positivity and will be deeply missed by all whose lives she deeply touched.”

Among her best-known works were “And You Give Me a Pain, Elaine,” for which she won a Golden Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, “And a Smart Kid Like You,” “Would My Fortune Cookie Lie,” which won the Midland Authors’ 1987 Children’s Fiction award, “Cute is a Four Letter Word,” for which she won the 1980 Carl Sandburg Award from the Friends of the Chicago Public Library, and “How Could You Do It, Diane?”...

(Four Kirkus reviews)

(reader reviews)

(Book covers)

Most of what I posted in 2011:

(blog about two of the books)

From "Major Authors and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults":

...She quickly became known as a bookworm in her family. Her
mother, an accomplished needlepointer, often tried to get her daughter
interested in embroidery. But Pevsner tried hard to get out of the
assignments. At one time, her talented mother became interested in
quilting and encouraged Pevsner to work at it. "The first time I stuck
my finger hard enough to draw blood," she wrote in SAAS. "I thought
I'd be excused and allowed to go back to my book. Wrong. Adhesive tape
around the fingers kept the blood in me and off the quilt. If mothers
of today want to drive their children into doing more reading, my
advice to them is to put a quilt in a frame."

Housework was often seen by Pevsner as an annoying distraction from
her reading. Her assignment was dusting, which was made more
complicated by her mother's crocheted doilies covering every piece of
furniture. But Pevsner found a way to relieve the tedium of the chore.
"Saturday it was my job to take everything off the piano and the
living room tables, dust and wax, and put it all back," she told SAAS.
"To make all this bearable, I propped open a book in a hidden corner,
and went back and forth, reading a few sentences before sending more
dust flying. What could have been a simple task took me

...One of her sons first encouraged her to write for children.
He had just written to his favorite author, asking her to write faster
so he could have more books to read. When she politely answered that
she was working as fast as she could, he informed his mother that she
would have to write a book for children. She was dumbfounded at first,
but soon decided that if her son had confidence in her abilities, she
couldn't do anything but try. That summer she spent her time
researching books that kids liked. She wanted to wait until the kids
went back to school in the fall to actually begin writing. When the
school bell rang again, she dove into writing Break a Leg!...

...Pevsner delved in to deeper topics as she continued
writing. A Smart Kid like You, published in 1975, dealt with the issue
of divorce. The main character, Nina, finds out that the teacher for
her accelerated math class is her father's new wife. Not having
adjusted to the divorce yet, she and her classmates try hazing the
teacher. In the end, she learns to accept what has happened and begins
dating. Carol R. McIver wrote in School Library Journal that "the
topic is highly relevant to many of today's young people." The book
was made into an ABC-TV Afterschool Special under the title "Me and
Dad's New Wife." (with Kristy McNichol, Lance Kerwin, Alexa Kenin and
Leif Garrett)...

...And You Give Me a Pain, Elaine is one of Pevsner's most loved
books. It chronicles the adventures of Andrea, a girl who feels
ignored by her parents because her rebellious older sister Elaine
demands so much time and attention. Much of her angst is washed away
by the tragic (spoiler)...

...Once, when speaking before a group of eighth-graders, Pevsner
was asked by one of the girls to write a book about suicide. At first,
she demurred, saying it was too sad a subject. However, finding that
she couldn't forget the girl's request, she did write a book called
How Could You Do It, Diane? The story is told from the viewpoint of
Bethany, who painfully tries to find out why her stepsister, a
seemingly fun-loving girl, chose to end her life. Publishers Weekly
stated, "This book never answers that question (of why Diane committed
suicide), which keeps the emotional bends of the story ringingly


The Young Brontës (one-act play), Baker, 1967.
# Break a Leg!, Crown, 1969, published as New Girl, Scholastic, 1983.

# Footsteps on the Stairs, Crown, 1970.
# Call Me Heller, That's My Name, Seabury, 1973.
# A Smart Kid like You, Seabury, 1975.
# Keep Stompin' till the Music Stops, Seabury, 1977.
# And You Give Me a Pain, Elaine, Seabury, 1978.

# Cute Is a Four-Letter Word, Clarion/Houghton, 1980.
# I'll Always Remember You . . . Maybe, Clarion/Houghton, 1981.
# Lindsay, Lindsay, Fly away Home, Clarion/Houghton, 1983.
# Me, My Goat, and My Sister's Wedding, Clarion/Houghton, 1985.
# Sister of the Quints (Junior Library Guild selection), Ticknor &
Fields, 1987.
# How Could You Do It, Diane?, Clarion/Houghton, 1989.

# The Night the Whole Class Slept Over, Clarion/Houghton, 1991.
# I'm Emma, I'm a Quint, Clarion/Houghton, 1993.
# Jon, Flora, and the Odd-eyed Cat (Junior Library Guild selection),
Clarion/Houghton, 1994.
# Would My Fortune Cookie Lie? (Junior Library Guild selection),
Clarion/Houghton, 1996.
# (With Fay Tang) Sing for Your Father, Su Phan, Clarion/Houghton,

# Is Everyone Moonburned but Me?, Clarion/Houghton, 2000.

Renting Out Dogs is Rong, 2014
That's When I Kissed the Tiger, 2014
When the Devil Came to Dance, 2015
Why the Ghost Cat Wore Rubies, 2016
Bubblegum Angel, 2018

2020-06-25 20:22:17 UTC
She had three entries in the "Something About the Author" encyclopedias.