Patricia Reilly Giff, the beloved children’s author known for books such as Lily’s Crossing and Nory Ryan’s Song, died Tuesday at her Connecticut home, Random House Children’s Books announced in a news release. She was 86.
Giff, a New York native, began writing in 1975. She rose to prominence in the children’s literature world with the publication of her Polk Street Schoolseries, which debuted in 1984 with The Beast in Ms. Rooney’s Room. She received a Newbery Honor for two of her books, Lily’s Crossing and Pictures of Hollis Woods, and her book Nory Ryan’s Song appeared on the American Library Association’s Best Fiction for Young Adults list in 2003.
Her most recent book, Meet the Crew at the Zoo, was published last year.
Mary Cash, one of Giff’s editors, praised the late author as “generous and compassionate.”
“One of the things that made Patricia Reilly Giff’s work extraordinary was how thoroughly she understood the emotional lives of children—what they loved most, what frightened and troubled them, and what truly mattered to them,” Cash said.
Admirers of Giff paid tribute to her on social media.
Author Tony Abbott tweeted, “We remember with love and gratitude our dear friend and mentor Patricia Reilly Giff. She was truly the Grande Dame of American children’s literature.”
We remember with love and gratitude our dear friend and mentor Patricia Reilly Giff. She was truly the Grande Dame of American children’s literature. pic.twitter.com/sN8kkAnbJA— Tony Abbott (@TonyAbbottBooks) June 24, 2021
And writer Anne Bustard wrote, “Patricia Reilly Giff was an incredibly generous author and dear person.”
Michael Schaub is a Texas-based journalist and regular contributor to NPR.