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Paula Danziger, 59, children's author

NEW YORK -- Award-winning children's author Paula Danziger, best known for her classic "The Cat Ate My Gymsuit" and the Amber Brown book series, died Thursday at St. Luke's Hospital in Manhattan after suffering complications from a heart attack. She was 59.

Ms. Danziger was acclaimed by critics and young readers during her long career.

"We have lost not only an extraordinary writer, but also an extremely caring, giving person," said Doug Whiteman, president of Penguin Young Readers Group.

She published more than 30 books, becoming one of America's most popular authors for young adults. Her works were translated into dozens of languages, bringing her signature style of humor and honesty to readers around the world.

Her debut book, "The Cat Ate My Gymsuit," was released 30 years ago this fall. It involved a teenage girl overcoming a weight problem and emerging with a heightened self-confidence. "Thoroughly enjoyable, tightly written," praised the Journal of Reading.

The Amber Brown series of books was inspired by Ms. Danziger's niece, Carrie.

Born in Washington, Ms. Danziger once said she felt the pull to become a writer when she was 7 years old. But it wasn't until years later, when she survived two car accidents in as many days, that she began writing "before I got hit by a bus," she joked in one interview.

The daughter of a garment worker and a nurse, Ms. Danziger grew up in Metuchen, N.J., and earned a bachelor's degree and a master's in education from Montclair State University.

She started out in 1967 as a substitute teacher, eventually joining a junior high school faculty before "Gymsuit" was published in 1974.

Over the years, Ms. Danziger received a variety of honors for her work, including awards from the International Reading Association-Children's Book Council. She regularly toured the country for speaking engagements, addressing students, teachers, and librarians.

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