Born: July 28, 1932
Died: October 31, 2016
Ohio connection: Birth
Born Natalie Zane Moore on July 28, 1932 in Dayton, Ohio, esteemed writer and illustrator Natalie Zane Babbitt was inspired by Sir John Tenniel’s illustrations in Alice in Wonderland to work with pen and ink, which became her specialty. She graduated from the Laurel School, a private academy for girls near Cleveland, and in fall 1950 she entered Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. While taking art classes at Smith College, she met Samuel Babbitt; they married in 1954 and had three children.
Natalie Babbitt’s first book as an illustrator was published in 1966. The Forty-Ninth Magician was written by her husband Samuel. In addition to her own fiction, Babbitt illustrated many volumes of Valerie Worth’s poetry. Although mainly known as a writer for children Babbitt is also appreciated by older readers as a gifted storyteller. Babbitt’s entertaining narratives, sense of humor, and courage in focusing on challenging themes firmly established her as an important and respected children’s author. Her award-winning titles include Kneeknock Rise (1970); the enduring favorite, Tuck Everlasting (1975) and Ouch!: A Tale from Grimm (l998). Her other books include: Jack Plank Tells Tales (2007) and The Moon Over High Street (2011). In 2012, Babbitt was awarded the inaugural E.B. White Award for achievement in children’s literature by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Natalie Babbitt died in her home in Hamden, Connecticut, on October 31, 2016.
Best Book for children ages nine to twelve, New York Times, 1969, for The Search for Delicious; Notable Book, American Library Association (ALA), 1970, Newbery Honor Book designation, ALA, 1971, and Honor Book citation, Horn Book, all for Kneeknock Rise; Children’s Spring Book Festival Honor Book designation, Book World, 1971, Children’s Book Showcase, Children’s Book Council, Best Books designation, School Library Journal, and Edgar Allan Poe award runner-up, Mystery Writers of America, all 1972, all for Goody Hall; Notable Book designation, ALA, Best Books designation, School Library Journal, Honor Book citation,Horn Book, and National Book Award finalist, American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, all 1975, and Parents’ Choice Award (story book category), Parent’s Choice Foundation, 1987, all for The Devil’s Storybook; Best Books designation, New York Times, 1975, Notable Book designation, ALA, Honor Book citation, Horn Book, Christopher Award for juvenile fiction, the Christophers, all 1976, Children’s Choice selection, International Reading Association, U.S. Honor Book citation, Congress of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) citation, and Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, all 1978, all for Tuck Everlasting; Notable Book designation, ALA, 1977, for The Eyes of the Amaryllis; Recognition of Merit Award, George C. Stone Center for Children’s Books, 1979, for body of work; Hans Christian Andersen Medal nomination, IBBY, 1981; Best Books designation, New York Times, 1982, for Herbert Rowbarge; Children’s Literature Festival Award, Keene State College, 1993, for body of work; Blue Ribbon Book, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, 1998, Notable Book designation, ALA, 1999, and Audie Award, 2001, all for Ouch! A Tale from Grimm; the E.B. White Award for achievement in children’s literature by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 2012.