Lilian Moore

1909–2004
Lilian Moore is an editor, educator, poet, and self-styled yarn-spinner who played a significant role in children's literature during the mid-to late twentieth century. As the first editor of the newly established Scholastic's Arrow Book Club from 1957 to 1967, Moore pioneered the program that made quality paperback books accessible and affordable for elementary school children throughout the United States. In addition, she has contributed many stories and poetry collections to the body of available children's literature, and has been honored for her poetry as well as for several of her story books.

Born in New York City in 1909, Moore developed a love of reading and telling stories after she discovered the path to the New York Public Library. In college, she majored in English and planned to teach Elizabethan literature on the college level. However, the nation was in the throes of the Great Depression when she graduated in the 1930s, so she could only find work as a reading teacher for truant children. Although she enjoyed the challenge the job provided, Moore became frustrated over the lack of suitable reading materials and determined that she would eventually write some books to fill this need: books that would be both exciting and easy to read, and that would allow children with reading problems to experience the pleasure of independent reading. While working as an editor for a New York publishing house after her first child was born, Moore began publishing easy-reader books under the pseudonym Sara Asheron. Her first storybook, authored with Leon Adelson, was Old Rosie, the Horse Nobody Understood, an award-winning story that remained in print for several decades after its initial 1952 publication.

The many books Moore has penned since Old Rosie, the Horse Nobody Understood have been generally well received by reviewers. Several critics have praised her ability to construct simple but interesting sentences using a basic vocabulary. "Moore is very clever at handling the kind of simple stories that do not discourage those who are still fumbling with the newly acquired ability to read," noted New York Herald Tribune contributor M. S. Libby. Many of Moore's stories feature animal characters who, while not totally humanized, embody many of the fears, joys, insecurities, and curiosity experienced by young children. In her highly praised story I'll Meet You at the Cucumbers, a young country-loving, poem-scribbling mouse named Adam is fearful to take a trip with his friend into the unfamiliar city. However, by confiding his fears to friend Amanda, Adam is able to confront them and ultimately makes an enjoyable trip into the bustling city. Praising Moore for her strong character development, School Library Journal contributor Caroline Ward added that the author's "masterful writing . . . manages to achieve a charming simplicity while making profound statements about the human condition." The tables turn for Adam in the sequel, Don't Be Afraid, Amanda, as the rural rodent plays host to city friend Amanda and introduces her to the quiet joys of country life. "Moore charms with her lucid narration" and "small, gently characterized creatures," noted a Kirkus Reviews contributor in praise of the 1992 book, while in Horn Book, Nancy Vasilakis dubbed Don't Be Afraid, Amanda "an easy chapter book that will appeal to animal lovers."

In While You Were Chasing a Hat, Moore uses poetic prose to trace the path of a girl's windblown hat on a summer day. By linking each place the hat goes—through the park, past trees, and along the edge of a lake—Moore "challeng[es] even the youngest children to understand the connection of things," noted a Kirkus Reviews critic, while in Booklist, Shelley Townsend-Hudson noted that in Moore's "charming book," young readers will "develop an awareness that unrelated things go on at the same time."

In addition to her prose books, Moore has written several volumes of poetry for young readers and was awarded the National Council of English Teachers' award for excellence in poetry for children in 1985. "Many of the poems have the flavor of haiku and capture the very essence of experience," noted Barbara Gibson in a School Library Journal review of Moore's 1967 poetry collection I Feel the Same Way. In a review for the New York Times Book Review, Alicia Ostricker called Moore "a poet who writes with a child's-eye view that is keen, accurate, and full of vitality." Noting that it is Moore's poetry, rather than prose, that "best combines her understanding of the child's mind and her ability to find beauty in familiar and unexpected places," an essayist in Children's Books and Their Creators maintained that the poet's "innovative choice of words and her vivid imagery . . . appeal to the reader's imagination."

Among the many poetry collections credited to Moore are I Thought I Heard the City, a 1969 description of the bustling cityscape as seen through a child's eyes; I'm Small, and Other Verses, which is geared toward preschooler story time in its focus on everything from peanut-butter sandwiches to finger paints; and Sam's Place: Poems from the Country, which contains twenty poems that reflect Moore's love of the natural world as seen from the farm she shares with her second husband in upstate New York. The 1997 collection Poems Have Roots contains seventeen poems that continue Moore's sensitive and sometimes humorous examination of nature in what School Library Journal contributor Ellen D. Warwick called "minute observations pithily recorded." Frances Phillips noted in Hungry Mind Review that in Poems Have Roots "Moore has an important ecological message to convey to her young readers. While her formal strategies—simple vocabulary, quirky line breaks, frequent exclamations and questions for emphasis—are not subtle, she is bravely addressing children with a poetry of social action." In Sunflakes: Poems for Children, editor Moore collects the work of other poets to produce an anthology "of seventy-six poems bursting with sound and sense," according to Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books reviewer Betsy Hearne. In further praise of the volume, Hearne added that Moore's "consistent selection suggests an ear perfectly tuned to lyrical nuance, on the one hand, and children's sensibilities, on the other."

In her career as both editor and author, Moore has found that her experience in fine-tuning the work of other writers has contributed to her own writing. "I believe that editing is a kind of sculpture," she told Joan I. Glazer in an interview for Language Arts. "If there's a line with a bump in it and you have a sense of form, you smooth it and give it shape."

Career

Writer. Worked as elementary school teacher in New York, NY, 1930-37; New York City Bureau of Educational Research, New York, NY, staff member, 1937-50; freelance editorial consultant for children's books, beginning 1950; reading specialist, beginning 1952; Scholastic Book Services, New York, NY, editor of Arrow Book Club, 1957-67; Grosset & Dunlap, Wonder Book division, New York, NY, editor of easy reader series, beginning 1960; editor of history and biography series, 1968-69; series editor for Thomas Y. Crowell, New York, NY; director of Brooklyn Community Counseling Center.

Bibliography

FOR CHILDREN
  • A Child's First Picture Dictionary, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1946.
  • (With Leon Adelson) Old Rosie, the Horse Nobody Understood, illustrated by Leonard Shortall, Random House (New York, NY), 1952.
  • (With Leon Adelson) The Terrible Mr. Twitmeyer, illustrated by Leonard Shortall, Random House (New York, NY), 1952.
  • The Important Pockets of Paul, illustrated by William D. Haynes, McKay (New York, NY), 1954.
  • Daniel Boone, illustrated by William Moyers, Random House (New York, NY), 1956.
  • Wobbly Wheels, illustrated by B. Krush, Abingdon (Nashville, TN), 1956.
  • The Snake That Went to School, illustrated by Mary Stevens, Random House (New York, NY), 1957.
  • My Big Golden Counting Book, Golden Press (New York, NY), 1957.
  • Once upon a Holiday, illustrated by Wesley Dennis, Whittlesey House (New York, NY), 1959.
  • Tony the Pony, illustrated by Wesley Dennis, Whittlesey House (New York, NY), 1959.
  • Bear Trouble, illustrated by Kurt Werth, Whittlesey House (New York, NY), 1960.
  • Everything Happens to Stuey, illustrated by Mary Stevens, Random House (New York, NY), 1960.
  • Too Many Bozos, illustrated by Susan Perl, Golden Press (New York, NY), 1960.
  • A Pickle for a Nickel, illustrated by Susan Perl, Golden Press (New York, NY), 1961.
  • Once upon a Season, illustrated by Gloria Fiammenghi, Abingdon (Nashville, TN), 1962.
  • (With Leone Adelson) Mr. Twitmeyer and the Poodle, illustrated by Leonard Shortall, Random House (New York, NY), 1963.
  • Papa Albert, illustrated by Gloria Fiammenghi, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1964.
  • The Magic Spectacles, and Other Easy-to-Read Stories, illustrated by Arnold Lobel, Parents Magazine Press (New York, NY), 1966.
  • I Feel the Same Way (poems), illustrated by Robert Quackenbush, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1967.
  • Just Right, illustrated by Aldern A. Watson, Parents Magazine Press (New York, NY), 1968.
  • I Thought I Heard the City (poems), illustrated by Mary Jane Dunton, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1969.
  • Junk Day on Juniper Street, and Other Easy-to-Read Stories, illustrated by Arnold Lobel, Parents Magazine Press (New York, NY), 1969.
  • The Riddle Walk, illustrated by John Pucci, Garrard (Champaign, IL), 1971.
  • (Reteller) Hans Christian Andersen, The Ugly Duckling, illustrated by Mona Barrett, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1972, expanded as The Ugly Duckling and Two Other Stories, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman, 1973.
  • (Compiler, with Lawrence Webster) Catch Your Breath: A Book of Shivery Poems, illustrated by Gahan Wilson, Garrard (Champaign, IL), 1973.
  • Sam's Place: Poems from the Country, illustrated by Talivaldis Stubis, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1973.
  • Spooky Rhymes and Riddles, illustrated by Ib Ohlsson, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1973.
  • (Compiler, with Judith Thurman) To See the World Afresh (poems), Atheneum (New York, NY), 1974.
  • (With Remy Charlip) Hooray for Me!, illustrated by Vera B. Williams, Parents Magazine Press (New York, NY), 1975.
  • See My Lovely Poison Ivy, and Other Verses about Witches, Ghosts, and Things, illustrated by Diane Dawson, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1975.
  • (Compiler) Go with the Poem, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY), 1979.
  • Think of Shadows (poems), illustrated by Deborah Robinson, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1980.
  • Something New Begins (poems), illustrated by Mary Jane Dunton, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1982.
  • I'll Meet You at the Cucumbers (also see below), illustrated by Sharon Wooding, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1988.
  • Don't Be Afraid, Amanda (sequel to I'll Meet You at the Cucumbers), illustrated by Kathleen Garry McCord, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1992.
  • (Selector) Sunflakes: Poems for Children, illustrated by Jan Ormerod, Clarion (New York, NY), 1992.
  • Adam Mouse's Book of Poems, illustrated by Kathleen Garry McCord, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1992.
  • I Never Did That Before (poems), Atheneum (New York, NY), 1995.
  • My First Counting Book, Golden Book (New York, NY), 1997.
  • Poems Have Roots: New Poems, illustrated by Tad Hills, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1997.
  • I'm Small, and Other Verses, illustrated by Jill McElmurry, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2001.
  • While You Were Chasing a Hat, illustrated by Rosanne Litzinger, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.
  • Mural on Second Avenue, and Other City Poems, illustrated by Roma Karas, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2004.
Also author of books under the name Sara Asheron, including Surprise in the Tree, 1962; Will You Come to My Party?; Laurie and the Yellow Curtains; The Surprise in the Story Book; Little Gray Mouse and the Train; How to Find a Friend; Little Gray Mouse Goes Sailing; Little Popcorn; The Three Coats of Benny Bunny; Fraidy Cat; and Funny Face at the Window. Contributor to periodicals, including Humpty Dumpty. Moore's works are included at the deGrummond Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi. "LITTLE RACCOON" SERIES; FOR CHILDREN
  • Little Raccoon and the Thing in the Pool, illustrated by Gloria Fiammenghi, Whittlesey House (New York, NY), 1963.
  • Little Raccoon and the Outside World, illustrated by Gloria Fiammenghi, Whittlesey House (New York, NY), 1965.
  • Little Raccoon and No Trouble at All, illustrated by Gloria Fiammenghi, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY), 1972.
  • Little Raccoon and Poems from the Woods, illustrated by Gloria Fiammenghi, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY), 1975.
  • Little Raccoon Takes Charge (adapted from Little Raccoon and No Trouble at All), illustrated by Deborah Borgo, Western Publishing, 1986.
  • Little Raccoon's Nighttime Adventure, illustrated by Deborah Borgo, Western Publishing, 1986.
  • Little Raccoon, illustrated by Doug Cushman, Holt (New York, NY), 2001.

Further Reading

BOOKS
  • Children's Literature Review, Volume 15, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1988, pp. 135-145.
  • Hopkins, Lee Bennett, Books Are By People: Interviews with 104 Authors and Illustrators of Books for Young Children, Citation Press, 1969.
  • Silvey, Anita, editor, Children's Books and Their Creators, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1995, pp. 467-468.
  • Ward, Martha E., and Dorothy A. Marquardt, Authors of Books for Young People, 2nd edition, Scarecrow Press (Metuchen, NJ), 1971.
PERIODICALS
  • Booklist, June 1, 1992, Karen Hutt, review of Don't Be Afraid, Amanda, p. 1762; September 15, 1992, Carolyn Phelan, review of Adam Mouse's Book of Poems, p. 144; November 1, 1995, Leone McDermott, review of I Never Did That Before, p. 474; September 1, 1997, Hazel Rochman, review of Poems Have Roots, p. 119; April 1, 2001, Shelley Townsend-Hudson, review of While You Were Chasing a Hat, p. 1479.
  • Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, March, 1988, review ofI'll Meet You at the Cucumbers, p. 142; February, 1993, review ofSunflakes: Poems for Children, p. 186; November, 1997, Deborah Stevenson, review of Poems Have Roots, pp. 93-94.
  • Horn Book, April, 1983, review of Something New Begins, p. 179; July-August, 1988, Ethel R. Twitchell, review of I'll Meet You at the Cucumbers, p. 492; July-August, 1992, Nancy Vasilakis, review of Don't Be Afraid, Amanda, p. 475; March-April, 1993, Hanna B. Zeiger, review of Sunflakes, pp. 214-215; May, 2001, Martha V. Parravano, review of I'm Small, and Other Verses, pp. 344-345.
  • Hungry Mind Review, winter, 1997-98, Frances Phillips, review of Poems Have Roots, pp. 44-45.
  • Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 1992, review ofDon't Be Afraid, Amanda, p. 614; August 15, 1992, review of Adam Mouse's Book of Poems, p. 1070; November 1, 1992, review of Sunflakes, p. 1382; April 15, 2001, review of While You Were Chasing a Hat, p. 590.
  • Language Arts, October, 1985, Joan I. Glazer, "Profile: Lilian Moore," pp. 647-652.
  • New York Herald Tribune, April 26, 1959, M. S. Libby, review of Old Rosie, the Horse Nobody Understood.
  • New York Times Book Review, November 14, 1982, Alicia Ostriker, review of Something New Begins, New and Selected Poems, pp. 45, 57.
  • Parnassus, Volume 8, number 2, 1980, pp. 63-82.
  • Publishers Weekly, May 29, 1987, review of The Ugly Duckling, p. 76; March 26, 2001, review of I'm Small, and Other Verses, p. 91.
  • School Library Journal, September, 1967, Barbara Gibson, review of I Feel the Same Way, p. 111; February, 1980, Sharon Elswit, review of Go with the Poem, p. 58; January, 1981, Maryl Silverstein, review of Think of Shadows, p. 53; April, 1988, Caroline Ward, review of I'll Meet You at the Cucumbers, p. 82; October, 1992, Susannah Price, review of Adam Mouse's Book of Poems, p. 106; October, 1995, Kathleen Whalin, review of I Never Did That Before, p. 128; December, 1997, Ellen D. Warwick, review of Poems Have Roots, p. 141; May, 2001, Ellen A. Greever, review of I'm Small, and Other Verses, p. 145.
OBITUARIES:ONLINE
  • New York Times Online, http://www.nytimes.com (August 2, 2004).*
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:PERIODICALS
  • Chicago Tribune, August 14, 2004, section 2, p. 11.
  • Los Angeles Times, August 12, 2004, p. B11.
  • New York Times, August 2, 2004, p. A19.

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LIFE SPAN 1909–2004

Biography

Lilian Moore is an editor, educator, poet, and self-styled yarn-spinner who played a significant role in children's literature during the mid-to late twentieth century. As the first editor of the newly established Scholastic's Arrow Book Club from 1957 to 1967, Moore pioneered the program that made quality paperback books accessible and affordable for elementary school children throughout the United States. In addition, she has . . .

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