Nancy Garden on Our Minds

NancyGarden_COVER_SLJ0306The recent passing of young adult author Nancy Garden hit us hard here at Wild Things, because in many ways Nancy was integral to significant portions of our book.

If you’re unfamiliar with Ms. Garden, a quick summary to catch you up to speed:  Before Young Adult was Young Adult and before books for children or teen readers with gay characters were even on the radar, Nancy Garden was breaking boundaries with her 1982 novel Annie On My Mind.  Born in 1938, Ms. Garden worked as an agent and editor before turning her focus to writing for kids.  She wrote picture books and novels, but Annie On My Mind is probably the book folks will remember her for best.

If you read any of her obituaries, you will find allusions to a 1993 case where Annie On My Mind was removed from a high school’s library shelves and sparked a First Amendment federal court case.  We spend a great deal of attention on this case in our book and wanted to secure permissions so as to get Nancy’s take perfectly.

annie-on-my-mindAfter getting in touch with Nancy, we found her a class act.  She offered condolences for our departed co-writer Peter and then set about letting us know that a statement we had for her about the banning, as we were confirming sources and nailing down page numbers, rang bells but that “I’ve said the same thing, more or less, in many a speech and I suspect in several articles as well.  I do have copies of most of my speeches and other writings, and of course the exact wording usually changes most of the time from one to the other, so figuring out the source of the exact wording here would be an exercise in futility.” That said, she send us better wording for the book and then ended by saying of our book, “I love the title–it’s great in itself, and it’s a nice tribute to Maurice Sendak.  May the book sell like the proverbial hot cakes!”

Nancy was on our list of folks to send final copies of Wild Things.  We were so sorry she didn’t get a chance to see the large section we’d dedicated to her.  She was a remarkable woman and freedom fighter.  Let’s watch her legacy live on.

You can read encapsulations of Nancy’s life at Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal and The New York TimesLambda Literary offered a tribute to her, and Roger Sutton of Horn Book Magazine revisited Annie On My Mind in 2007.