How to Pay Tribute to Your Favorite Authors When They Pass Away

Over the past year, my husband, Matt, a music lover, has been hit hard by the death of some of his favorite rockers. From David Bowie to Prince, I have watched him glued to the computer screen, watching these departed talented musicians. Seeing them play live brings them back for him. He relives and remembers the moments when he was first touched by their music. Our middle son, Ari, is a musician and the singer in the alt rock band Secure the Sun. I can’t tell you how many times my husband has asked my son to play a cover song of a recently departed singer. Ari, when he performs solo somewhere, will often accommodate my husband’s request, such as when he sang Purple Rain last April. Unfortunately, this is a harder task for his band as they play almost exclusively originals.

This past week, the multi-talented Paula Fox passed away. Fox, the author of over a dozen novels for children, won the Newbery medal for The Slave Dancer. Her other children’s books garnered the National Book award, the Newbery honor and the Hans Christian Andersen medal. Fox wrote about difficult subjects, including homelessness, disease and slavery. Her books were often controversial and sometimes removed from school libraries. She brought topics into the discourse that many thought had been inappropriate for children.

Additionally, over the past year, in the children’s lit world, we’ve seen the deaths of Richard Adams, the author of Watership Down (one of those books that’s hard to place in terms of category), Lois Duncan, author of beloved suspenseful YA novels, and Anna Dewdney, the best-selling author of the Llama Llama picture books. I’m sure I’ve left out many dearly departed children’s authors (and please comment and let me know who they are). The question becomes how to honor these authors?

Well, we can read them. We can recommend their books. However, unlike musicians, authors can’t perform a Llama Llama cover son–although there is certainly the fan fic option. And for readers and fans, we can still talk about their books. As authors we can also take some of the qualities that we loved in a beloved author and try to weave some of their spirit and passion into our own texts.

How do you honor beloved your favorite beloved authors who have passed?

Hillary Homzie is the author of the Queen of Likes (Simon & Schuster MIX 2016), The Hot List (Simon & Schuster MIX 2011) and Things Are Gonna Be Ugly (Simon & Schuster, 2009). She can be found at and on her Facebook page.

Hillary Homzie
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  3. Unfortunately, I must now also add Amy Krause Rosenthal to this list of authors who have left us this year. She passed away this morning. She was the author of 20 children’s book as well as essays and books for adults. She was beloved in the children’s literature world and shared her whimsical humor and deep wisdom through her books and writing. She said in a talk to “be the you that makes you feel like [exclamation point]. She will be deeply missed. Go out and buy or check out her books!

  4. Beautiful post, Hillary. I agree with Greg. It’s really nice to know that books never die. I loved Watership Down and Tuck Everlasting. Your suggestion on talking about these books to parents and kids around us is a good one. Offering book titles as recommendations to kids in workshops would make them appreciate and study the craft of writing while enjoying the stories.

  5. It’s always nice to know their books will never die. I would add Natalie Babbitt (TUCK EVERLASTING) to your list. She passed away last Halloween. Thanks for paying tribute to these great writers.

    • Oh, yes, Natalie Babbitt. Tuck Everlasting is such a powerful book. I recently re-read it, and it moved me just as much. Thank you for adding her.