The author E.L. Konigsburg had many ties to Pittsburgh

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Thank you for noting the passing of renowned children's author E.L. Konigsburg. However, the Washington Post news obituary you ran ("E.L. Konigsburg: Novelist Had Knack of Catering to Youth," April 28) does not do justice to her Pittsburgh connections, which began with her studies at Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon) and continued for the rest of her life.

Elaine returned to Pittsburgh many times, speaking at children's book festivals and conferences at Carnegie Library and at the University of Pittsburgh. The Elaine Lobl Konigsburg Papers reside in the Elizabeth Nesbitt Room at Pitt's School of Library and Information Sciences. In 2001, a Japanese scholar who was translating her works into Japanese came to Pittsburgh to use that archive. Elaine was to meet her here, but her husband's death canceled that trip. At Elaine's request, I greeted the Japanese visitors and gave them the tour of Carnegie Mellon that Elaine had promised them, because they wanted to see where her career began.

Accepting a Carnegie Mellon Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award in 1999, she said, "The only course in writing I have ever had was freshman composition, taught by Dr. A. Fred Sochatoff. One of my books is dedicated to him. It says: 'For Fred Sochatoff -- who was there at the beginning, before either of us knew it was a beginning.' " Fred Sochatoff was my father, and that book, "Throwing Shadows," was published in 1979. An earlier book, "Father's Arcane Daughter," is set in Pittsburgh and refers to "the house on North Negley Avenue." That was my family's house.

Later, when she added painting and illustrating to her repertoire of talents, she did a drawing for my father that now hangs in my home. It pictures people huddled under umbrellas, standing or marching in a line, against a background of classified newspaper ads for apartments and jobs. It triggers thoughtful and imaginative responses from everyone who sees it, in the same ways that her books stretched the minds and the emotions of her young readers.

Squirrel Hill



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