Born: September 13, 1917
Died: July 28, 2012
Ohio connection: Birth
Born in Bucyrus, Ohio, on September 13, 1917, Carol Kendall was the daughter of John Adam and Laura (Price) Seeger. While attending Ohio University, she met Paul Murray Kendall, a Ph.D. who specialized in Renaissance literature and Shakespeare. The couple married on July 15, 1939. Kendall received her A.B. from Ohio University in the same year.
Kendall’s first published work, The Black Seven (Harper, 1946), was an adult mystery novel that featured a twelve-year-old as its protagonist. Kendall enjoyed writing about the emotions, experiences, and perspectives of children and welcomed the opportunity to discuss resolutions to divisive real-life social issues in the fantasy environment of children’s literature. Following the 1957 release of The Other Side of the Tunnel, Kendall began writing The Gammage Cup — her breakthrough novel — published in 1959. It became a Newbery Honor Book and an Ohioana prize winner (published in England as “The Minnipins”). The Gammage Cup chronicled the cultural rude awakening of the Minnipins, a race of tiny people who, although ignorant of their past and the world beyond the mountains, lived comfortable and conformist lives in a floating slipper. That is before the keeper of their history museum attempts to integrate two people from outside their caste into their idyllic though biased society. Subsequent books included The Big Splash (1960) and The Whisper of Glocken (1965) and Sweet and Sour: Tales From China (1978). In 1980, The Whisper of Glocken was developed into a thirteen-week British television series and premiered on Britain’s Independent Television. The Firelings was published in 1981 and won a Parents’ Choice Award and the 1983 Mythopoeic Society Fantasy Award.
As a result of her world travels (Easter Island was a favorite) including her many visits to China, Kendall became interested in folk tales and published Haunting Tales from Japan (1985) and The Wedding of the Rat Family (1988). In many of her works, Kendall advocated the inclusion of non-conformists within society and the promulgation of the concept that non-conformity itself was not a sinister, twisted deviation from normalcy but merely a conscious choice to be different. As a tribute to her alma mater, Kendall donated to the Ohio University Library the typescripts to The Gammage Cup and Whisper of Glocken. Her manuscripts and archives are housed in the Special Collections of the James C. Kirkpatrick Library at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg. Carol Kendall died on July 28, 2012 in Lawrence, Kansas.
Ohioana Award and Newbery Medal Honor Book Award, both for The Gammage Cup, 1960; Parents’ Choice Award, 1982, and Mythopoeic Society Fantasy Award, 1983, both for The Firelings.