I almost met Jean Little when I was in third grade. She was coming to our school and I was picked to be one of the people who would get to show her around. Unfortunately I ended up with strep throat or something and had to miss that whole week, so obviously that didn’t happen.
But I did get to meet her eventually.
Many years later, by complete coincidence, we ended up at the same fancy event because we both wrote pieces for a magazine. Yes, my name and hers were in the same publication once. How’s that for trivia? I was lucky enough to spend a decent little while talking to her, and she was extremely nice. In fact she was so nice that she paid me a compliment that to this day I’m not sure I deserved, but it meant a lot and I still think about it from time to time. It crossed my mind just a few days ago, actually. I’m sure that’s another complete coincidence, but it’s odd how those happen sometimes. Beloved author Jean Little passes away at 88
Little had been battling health issues for several months says sister
Much of her work deals with themes of coping with adversity, and perseverance in the face of challenges.
Catherine Carstairs, History professor at the University of Guelph, said Little’s work helped change the way we talk about people with disabilities.
“The history of disability in children’s literature was all about recovering from the disability. Jean Little portrayed children who were living with their disability, and living well with their disability. It’s written with a huge amount of empathy,” Carstairs said.
The professor remembers reading Little’s book From Anna, as a young girl in Winnipeg.
“As someone who doesn’t have a disability, but was still really inspired by her work, I think there’s a kindness and a generosity in her writing that had an appeal for all children,” she said.