Dr. Betsy Hearne
Center for Children's Books
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So Long, Farewell: Betsy Hearne
“How do you thank the one,” says the song “To Sir with Love,” “who has
taken you from crayons to perfume?” Except with Betsy Hearne,
it’s really the other way; she’s taken multitudes of us to crayons as
she’s mentored our professional development in youth services and
Her professional achievements and history are a matter of public record
for a start), from her youth services days to her longterm prominence
in reviewing and journal editing, from her eloquent speaking
engagements to her extensive writing for young people (a selection
appears in this month’s Dozen.
Then there’s also the extensive service, whether it be the public work
on award committees ranging from the Caldecott to the Boston Globe/Horn
Book, or her tireless and often behind-the-scene labors on behalf of
youth services and students at the University of Illinois and, before
that, the University of Chicago.
I suspect that last may be her proudest legacy; it’s certainly her most
broad and wide-ranging. It’s telling that, at her retirement
party following graduation this spring, we found that our stories about
Betsy really were stories about ourselves, and what Betsy had done for
us, and how we wouldn’t be where we were without her. It could
mean that she’s mentored a group of raving egocentrics, but I like to
think that that’s actually the outcome she prefers: her legacy
will continue in the work done by her former students, which will be
passed on to their students, and so on, becoming a part of the
children’s literature heritage of generations of devoted professionals.
We will miss her daily presence terribly. I’ve already
encountered several situations where there’s a small silence at the
juncture where usually we’d plan to ask Betsy, or where we say
hopefully that we think we could just quickly get her advice on a
matter. Our seeing her less probably means your seeing her more,
since she’ll be spending more time writing and traveling and will
doubtless be as ferociously productive as ever. But wonderful as
it is that Betsy’s retirement is the world’s gain, it’s still going to
be a more daunting workday around here without her.
Deborah Stevenson, Editor, and former PhD advisee and employee of
Dr. Betsy Hearne
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This page was last updated on August 1, 2007.