Award-winning children’s and YA author Norma Fox Mazer died October 17, 2009 after a battle with brain cancer. She was 78.
For more than a quarter century, Mazer’s books have won many awards, including a Newbery Honor, the Edgar Allen Poe Award, the Christopher Medal, the California Young Readers Medal, the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award twice, the Iowa Teen Award twice, and the ALAN Award. She was nominated for the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Book Prize, and her work often appeared on the American Library Association’s Best Books for Young Adults lists, including her last, The Missing Girl (HarperCollins, 2008), which School Library Journal described as a “well-crafted thriller with mythic undertones” and gave a starred review.
Mazer first book I, Trissy (Delacorte, 1970) led to a prolific career of more than 30 books, including two collections of her short stories. Her second YA novel, A Figure of Speech (Delacorte, 1973), about an elderly man who is ignored by everyone except his granddaughter, was a National Book Award finalist. The theme of a relationship between a grandfather and his granddaughter reappeared in her Newbery Honor book, After the Rain (HarperCollins, 1987). Mazer’s Up In Seth’s Room (Delacorte, 1979) dealt with the delicate topic of virginity and teen sex.
But the author didn’t limit herself to realistic teen fiction. Mazer’s Taking Terri Mueller (Harper, 1981) earned her an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America. She also collaborated on four novels with her writer husband, Harry: The Solid Gold Kid (Delacorte, 1977), Last Mission (Random, 1988), Heartbeat (Bantam, 1989) and Bright Days, Stupid Nights (Morrow, 1992).
Born in New York City in 1931 to Michael and Jean Garlan Fox, Mazer lived in Glen Falls, New York, with her parents and two sisters and attended Antioch College and Syracuse University. At the age of 15, she met Harry Mazer, six years her senior. They married and had four children, including Anne Mazer, an author and editor.
She and Harry lived for many years in Jamesville, NY, but in recent years the couple relocated to Montpelier, VT. She was also a faculty member at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Mazer, with her braided hair, was a true storyteller.
“I love stories. I'm convinced that everyone does, and whether we recognize it or not, each of us tells stories,” Mazer said. “A day doesn't pass when we don't put our lives into story. Most often these stories are of the moment. They are the recognition, the highlighting of our daily lives. In my own life, it seems that events are never finished until I've either told them or written them.”
She is survived by her husband Harry and three children.
By Rocco Staino -- School Library Journal, 10/18/2009