2021-01-26 18:37:52 UTC
She also wrote at least two books - What Was the Boston Tea Party? and What Was the March on Washington? - in the popular Penguin Random House nonfiction series, which began in 2002 and now has over 250 titles.
By Shannon Maugham.
Prolific children’s book author and former editor Kathleen Krull, widely acclaimed for her skill at crafting detailed and entertaining biographies and other narrative nonfiction, died on January 15 following a brief illness. She was 68.
Krull was born July 29, 1952 in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and then her family moved to Wilmette, Ill., where she grew up playing several musical instruments and was an early and avid reader. In her website biography, she credits two nuns at her Catholic elementary and middle school with being “particularly encouraging” of her writing. Krull wrote that her eighth-grade teacher Sister Della was the “first person who told me I might be a writer when I grew up,” and had remained an important person in Krull’s life, long after her school years.
As a teenager, Krull’s passions for music, reading, and writing were in full force as she gave piano lessons to local children and played the organ at her church. She also noted in her biography that she was fired from a part-time job at the public library in Wilmette—a favorite destination of hers—because she was reading too much rather than completing her prescribed tasks. Following high school, Krull studied music at Northwestern University and then earned her B.A., magna cum laude, majoring in English and minoring in music, from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis., in 1974.
Krull embarked on her editorial career in children’s books “the day after I graduated,” she shared in her bio. She began as an editorial assistant at Harper & Row in Evanston, Ill., and rose through the ranks, holding positions as associate editor at Western Publishing in Racine, Wis., from 1974–79; managing editor at Raintree Publishing in Milwaukee from 1979–83, and then landed a spot as a senior editor at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich in San Diego from 1982–84. During this time Krull continued writing and had work published in the Trixie Belden mystery series (under the pseudonym Kathryn Kenny) as well as titles in the Beginning to Learn About series for Raintree, among other projects.
In 1984 Krull left corporate publishing and became a full-time writer. Among her earlier projects was the children’s music book Songs of Praise (Harcourt, 1989), for which Krull served as piano arranger and editor, and which was illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt. Krull and Hewitt would collaborate again for Lives of the Musicians: Good Times, Bad Times (and What the Neighbors Thought) (Harcourt, 1993), the first in their series of critically acclaimed and popular anthologies of brief profiles of historical figures.
Illustrated biographies became Krull’s format of choice, and she was often praised in reviews for her lively writing and her knack for including quirky or unusual tidbits about her subjects. She said in interviews that that she enjoyed “playing detective” in researching her books; when explaining her approach to nonfiction she wrote the following on her site: “To hold their own against all the competition for a child’s time, nonfiction books have to reflect something special…. I try to make fresh, contemporary choices from my research—little ironies, amusing juxtapositions, concrete details, strengths and weaknesses. I use a ‘warts and all’ approach because I want to write biographies for kids living in the real world. I know readers have to survive all kinds of hurts and traumas; my way of helping is to dramatize how people in the past have done it.”...