In Memory: Julius Lester

By Gayleen Rabakukk

Author Julius Lester died Jan. 18 while Cynsations was on winter hiatus.

Julius Lester, whose literature explored African American life, dies at 78 by Emily Langer from The Washington Post. Peek:

“He once wrote that ‘the need to know more about my individual past led me to begin studying slavery.’ …To Be a Slave (illustrated by Tom Feelings, Dial Books for Young Readers,1968), (was) a Newbery Honor book.”

At Publishers Weekly, Shannon Maughan shared author-illustrator Jerry Pinkney‘s remembrances of Julius:

“‘What existed for him was the work at hand. He was not distracted by looking back at all, and he was completely living in the present. That was a powerful thing that we can all learn from.'”

Julius Lester wrote nearly 50 books, including works of nonfiction, fiction, memoir and folklore, in addition to children’s literature. According to The New York Times, “he was also variously a literary and cultural critic, folklorist, photographer, civil rights worker and professional musician.

“As an essayist, he was a contributor to The New York Times Book ReviewThe Village VoiceDissent and other publications. A resident of Belchertown, Mass., he was a retired faculty member of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.”

Award-Winning Author Julius Lester Leaves Behind Storied Legacy by Rocco Staino from School Library Journal. Peek:

“His last book for children in 2016 was the publication of the allegorical tale The Girl Who Saved Yesterday (Creston, 2016).

“His fellow authors took to social media to express their sorrow and gratitude.”