Thursday, July 19, 2007

Ursula Nordstrom to the Reys

To Margaret and H. A. Rey*

October 29, 1945.

Dear Reys:

The Librarian I wish you would meet in Chicago is Miss Agatha Shea, of the Chicago Public Library, main branch. I've written her that you may get in touch with her and that I hope you will meet each other even if briefly.

Miss Shea is a perfectly grand woman, with a sensible, vigorous, intelligent approach to children's books. I think I mentioned over the 'phone that several of the New York librarians are not overly fond of her, because she has locked horns with them on several occasions. She is the librarian who told me years ago not to worry about what this librarian and that librarian thought, that her advice to me was to go ahead and do the books I liked and believed in, and let the various library cliques take them or leave them. Perhaps I shouldn't write this (please burn the letter) but I've always appreciated her hearty and friendly comments on Harper children's books. She and I haven't always agreed on various books but even when we've argued, I've never felt she was stuffy about them.

Margaret, Miss Shea is not young and beautiful like you. But she is well worth knowing. I told her, in my letter, that you and Rey might telephone but added that if you didn't it would just be because you hesitated to interrupt one of her busy days. So if your time in Chicago is too rushed, don't worry about getting in touch with her.

I hope you have lots of fun. Please remember every single thing so you can describe the trip to me in detail. I hope you are impressed with the Mississippi River.

Ursula Nordstrom

*Author/illustrator team. The Reys had been living in Paris at the time of the Nazi invasion. Fleeing to America, they took an apartment in New York's Greenwich Village not far from UN's. Harper became the Reys' second publisher after Houghton Mifflin, which had been lucky enough in 1941 to secure American rights to Curious George. The Reys' Harper books included Pretzel (1944) and Spotty (1945), both written by Margaret and illustrated by her husband; in addition, H. A. Rey illustrated Charlotte Zolotow's first book, The Park Book, published by Harper in 1944.

-from Dear Genius: the Collected Letters of Ursula Nordstrum collected and edited by Leonard S. Marcus. (New York: Harper Collins, 1998) p. 11-12.

No comments: