About Lee Bennett Hopkins

23 August 2019 #DearOneLBH

“I don’t know why you say good-bye I say hello” *

from RAGGED SHADOWS c. 1983 Lee Bennett Hopkins c. 1983 Giles Laroche

You will find no better thoughts about literary lion

LEE BENNETT HOPKINS than from my dear colleagues who include:



2 NO WATER RIVER – Renee    





As I take in these tributes, I visit again with Lee & also, Charles Egita, Lee’s beloved partner of so many decades & spouse since 2014. So today in saying good-bye to Lee, I also say hello.

(*c. Paul McCartney, all rights reserved.)

Thank you for hosting this celebration of his life, Amy Ludwig Vanderwater – a Dear One beloved by Lee, her long-time mentor. All, please return if you have time, to read comments & find more links.

SCHOOL SUPPLIES, a Book of Poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Renee Flower & dedicated
“for Rebecca Davis who supplies me with enthusiasm.”
published 1996, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

I have indulged sorrow by re-reading every of the 15 books of Lee’s, that I gathered here at home from shelves & desks & bedside & placed on a soft green chair.  The clutch is only a mere patch of the 120 or so books #DearOneLBH is credited with, including his three novels.



I run my fingers  over his autographs. I play with the light-bright poems he selected. I sigh with the poignant ones in his poem autobiography of difficult New Jersey days, which leaves me inspired with his child pledge -to grow up to be a writer. 

I don’t need a tissue during my putting this together, until I open up a book I have gifted multiple times (some to teachers, with his autograph.) It is SIDE BY SIDE, Poems to Read Together, illustrated by children’s illustrator literary lion Hilary Knight. As is often my habit, I begin at the back. And I find what I had forgot. A barefoot boy of about seven or eight who can only represent Lee, as illustrated by Knight, greets me. Lee sits beneath a bare limbed tree. A brown bird peers down at him and a dragonfly  perches on his pencil which is clamped by his teeth.

This gives me the giggles.  “Hi, little Lee,” I say. Above his image, Lee says:

“Among my fondest

memories are the times my

grandmother recited, from

memory, some wonderful

poems her mother had read

to her. Many of these same

verses are here in Side by

Side. It shows that good

poetry lasts forever! Thanks



Lee shares a Truth; He will last for us forever through his poems & anthologies & if you know him, through experiences  I feel you will want to find this volume, if you don’t have it so you can pretend, as I did, that Lee is reading with you, side by side. I have an extra to give; will select in random, from comments. 

When I came late to Charles Egita’s kind social media news of his loss of his beloved, Lee’s passing on 8 August, (I learned 18 August) I was glad my husband was handy that Sunday because in my shock came waterworks. He held me a long time until I was ready to not be held. Preparing for today, in paging back-to-front through SIDE BY SIDE (the way I often read poem books) when I came forward to page 21, my lip trembled; another cry.  Paolo was at work. I dried my tears and began notes for this post. Never before had I read Jane Yolen’s poem from this page in this new light of loss Her page is anchored by Knight’s Grandpa bear  (to me, the big bear is Lee) in a rocking chair. Here is is from page 21, SIDE BY SIDE:

“Grandpa Bear’s Lullaby

by Jane Yolen


The night is long

But fur is deep.

You will be warm

in winter sleep.


The food is gone

But dreams are sweet

And they will be

Your winter meat.


The cave is dark

But dreams are bright

And they will serve

As Winter light.


Sleep my little cubs, sleep.

c.Jane Yolen,all right reserved


If you know of Lee & Jane, you know that they were decades-long dear colleagues & close close friends. Only the genius who is Jane could have been unknowingly prescient in her poem selected by Lee.

Lee Bennett Hopkins, Orlando, SCBWI, 2015
detail, page 80

What is on Little Lee’s notebook?

It reads “Munching Peaches  S c r a n t o n Pa ’48”

{c. 1988 Lee Bennett Hopkins & c. 1988 Hilary Knight SIDE BY SIDE.]

Please remember to visit Amy’s POEM FARM for her gathering of a wide array of published book industry & personal tributes to #DearOneLBH. This attention will make its mark if more poetry anthologies are read, more youngest writers are encouraged to set down their poem words. Finally, I am appreciative of Linda Bernfield & her SCBWI Orlando 2015 crew, for creating the event where Lee & I are laughing (above.) And here at Bookseedstudio, I’ve mentioned #DearOneLBH over the years, such as here & also, this. 


15 responses to “About Lee Bennett Hopkins”

  1. Good poetry lasts forever, so true. You rediscovered a gem with this book, Jan. Sad to say, all of my books (including Lee’s) are packed for our upcoming move. It’s been wonderful to read everyone’s favorite poems by and inspired by Lee.


    • It’s a solace to see the loving memories around the Poetry Friday group, dear Laura. And I will want to know your new postal mailing address once you land in the new ‘hood, where lucky the folks will be, to enjoy your household as neighbors.


  2. Such a lovely post, Jan. I love Lee’s book SIDE BY SIDE. I had it in my classroom library for many years, but somehow one day it disappeared. Hopefully, it found it’s way to a child who needed it. : )

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lee Bennett Hopkins was (is?) a national treasure! I remember you mentioning him many times. What a fantastic photo that is of the two of you! Miss you, dear Jan. Thank you for sharing your love for LBH.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Jan, I shared two weeks ago that I was at the bookstore the day Lee died, going through donations, too. And here came ‘Side by Side’, a new one from Lee, & we really do not receive many poetry books at all. I felt blessed. Then when I arrived home, I saw Charles’ post and here came the shivers. Of all the days, I felt very blessed! I love what you shared, and loved the book which I read that day. Thank you for a beautiful & loving post, your memories & those pictures, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jan, I have missed you! I’m so glad you let us know you were traveling. I kept peeking at your blog wondering where you were. And, I send you a hug with this. It’s terribly hard losing a friend…who are, really, our family by choice. Your tribute is wonderful. I have not read the side by side poems book. What little hidden treasures there are in there that you’ve let us in on. Thank you, friend. I agree that Lee is with us still, in his great body of work.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh Jan, this post is filled with such love, nurturing, and care! I wouldn’t expect any less of you. Just the fact that you rested those 15 books on a soft, green chair shows your utmost respect and devotion. I love the picture of “Little Lee,” I love Jane’s poem read in this new light, and I love your positivity and resilience in writing this post, maybe before you’ve even had time to digest the shock of it all. My heart is with you, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Every word and image in this post brings me delight and sorrow all at once. Thank you, Jan. I need a copy of that book – it IS little Lee. And Jane’s poem…gosh. Thank you for sharing your personal collection and reflections. I wish we could all get together in person and just have a big old hug. xx

    Liked by 1 person

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