Beloved children’s author Fredrick L. McKissack died on Sunday, April 28, at the age of 73. With his wife and longtime writing partner Patricia, McKissack was the author of more than 100 books for children, including the award-winning DAYS OF JUBILEE (Coretta Scott King Honor, 2003), BLACK HANDS, WHITE SAILS: The Story of African-American Whalers (Coretta Scott King Honor, 2000), CHRISTMAS IN THE BIG HOUSE, CHRISTMAS IN THE QUARTERS (Coretta Scott King Author Award, 1995), GREAT AFRICAN-AMERICANS (Enslow series), THE DARK THIRTY: Southern Tales of the Supernatural. (Newbery Honor, 1993), and NEVER FORGOTTEN (PEN/Steven Kroll Award, 2012 and Coretta Scott King Author Honor, 2012). From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “…their work has won everything from the Newbery Honor and Caldecott Honor to the Coretta Scott King Award, the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award, the Jane Addams Peace Award, and more.”
McKissack was born in Nashville, Tennessee and worked as a civil engineer and served in the U.S. Marine Corps. He and Patricia lived and worked in St. Louis, Missouri, where they built their company, All-Writing Services. And they did write it all–collaborating on projects from picture book to nonfiction biographies to young adult, timeless tales across genres.
As authors everywhere reacted to the news of McKissack’s death, many echoed the sentiment of author and publisher Cheryl Willis Hudson, who wrote: “Fredrick McKissack was such a generous and caring spirit. His research was impeccable and in his partnership with Patricia, he made a great contribution to children’s literature and African American history.”
Thank you, Mr. McKissack!