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:

 POEM FARM – Amy

1 NO WATER RIVER – Renee

2 NO WATER RIVER – Renee    

 LIFE ON THE DECKLE EDGE – Robyn

TODAY’s LITTLE DITTY – Michelle

LIVE YOUR POEM – Irene

POETRY FOR CHILDREN – Sylvia

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

grandma.”

 

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

c.1988HilaryKnight
SIDE BY SIDE
detail, page 80
allrightsreserved

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.