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The New York Times
April 23, 2013

E. L. Konigsburg, Author, Is Dead at 83


E. L. Konigsburg, a children's author and illustrator who twice received the nation's highest award in children's literature - she won it in 1968 for her second book, edging out the runner-up, which was her own first book - died on Friday in Falls Church, Va. She was 83.

Her death was confirmed by family members, which said she suffered a stroke last week and had been hospitalized since.

Mrs. Konigsburg was the only author to have won the American Library Association's John Newbery Medal for distinguished children's literature, considered the most prestigious in the field, and been the runner-up in the same year.

She received the 1968 medal for "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler," a story about a sister and brother from the suburbs who run away from home and surreptitiously camp out at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. She wrote that book in 1967, the same year she finished and sold her first book, "Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth," about a new child in the neighborhood and her friendship with a girl who claims to be a witch, the 1968 Newbery runner-up.

Ingrid Bergman played the role of Mrs. Frankweiler in a 1973 film version of the book, which was also made into a television movie in 1995, with Lauren Bacall in the same role.

Mrs. Konigsburg won the Newbery again in 1997 for "The View From Saturday," about four members of a sixth-grade interscholastic quiz bowl team and the paraplegic teacher who coaches them.

Mrs. Konigsburg's 20 books, about half of which she illustrated herself, are known for their outsider's perspective, their wit, and plotlines that venture fearlessly into unfamiliar epochs, fantastic scenarios and nightmarish circumstances that might have been plucked from the headlines.

In her 1986 novel, "Up From Jericho Tel," an actress gives two children the power of invisibility to send them on a quest. "A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver" (1973) is a historical fantasy about the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine as told by her and her contemporaries, all now living in heaven. "Father's Arcane Daughter" (1976) recounts what happens when a girl who was kidnapped and presumed dead 17 years ago reappears to find her mother long dead and her father remarried, raising a new brood. In "Silent to the Bone" (2000), one of her darkest plots, a 13-year-old boy is wrongly accused of seriously injuring his baby sister - and the accusation, coupled with his sister's injury, renders him mute.

Acts of kindness and flashes of insight resolve most of her characters' troubles; serendipity takes care of the rest.

Roger Sutton, reviewing "Silent to the Bone" in The New York Times, described Mrs. Konigsburg as "one of our brainiest writers for young people, not only in the considerable cerebral powers she brings to her books but in the intellectual demands she makes on her characters."

Elaine Lobl was born Feb. 10, 1930, in Manhattan, the second of the three children of Beulah and Adolph Lobl. She later described her parents as modest, hard-working people who never imagined their children would go to college and could not afford it if they had.

After graduating at the top of her high school class in Farrell, Pa., where her family had moved, she held various jobs, hoping to save toward her eventual college studies, including one as a bookkeeper in a local meatpacking plant, where she met David Konigsburg, a brother of the owner.

By the time they were married in 1952, Mrs. Konigsburg had graduated from the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh with a major in chemistry. When her husband finished his doctoral studies in psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, they moved to Jacksonville, Fla., and started their family. She began writing when her children went to school.

Mrs. Konigsburg is survived by her three children, Paul, Laurie and Ross, and five grandchildren. Mr. Konigsburg, an industrial psychologist, died in 2001. In interviews, Mrs. Konigsburg said her upbringing in small-town Pennsylvania, where she did not have great expectations, helped her as a writer.

"Growing up in a small town," she told a biographer, Renee Ambrosek, in 2006, "gives you two things: a sense of place and a feeling of self-consciousness - self-consciousness about one's education and exposure, both of which tend to be limited. On the other hand, limited possibilities also mean creating your own options."

In a separate interview, she said: "I think most of us are outsiders. And I think that's good because it makes you question things."

Mrs. Konigsburg, who spent a year teaching high school science, was an unabashed information-pusher. Children's books, she once said, are "the key to the accumulated wisdom, wit, gossip, truth, myth, history, philosophy, and recipes for salting potatoes during the past 6,000 years of civilization."

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The Herald, Sharon, Pa.
April 20, 2013

Elaine Lobl Konigsburg - Award-winning children's author grew up in Farrell

Elaine Lobl Konigsburg passed away on April 19, 2013. She was a teacher, author and artist. Her novels and illustrations delight children throughout the world.

E.L. Konigsburg was born Feb. 10, 1930, to Adolph Lobl and Beulah Klein Lobl. She grew up in Farrell and graduated with a degree in chemistry from Carn-egie Mellon University.

In 1952, she married David Konigsburg and moved to Jacksonville, Fla.. The family relocated several times during Dr. Konigsburg's career, but eventually returned to Jacksonville and settled at Ponte Vedra Beach.

When her youngest child started kindergarten, E.L. Konigsburg began to write and illustrate children's books. Her first novel, "Jennifer, Hecate, McBeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth," was a Newbery honor book in 1968, and her second novel, "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler," won the Newbery Medal in 1968. She is the only author to be both winner and runner-up in the same year. Her 13th novel, "The View From Saturday," was awarded the 1997 Newbery Medal.

E.L. Konigsburg wrote and painted throughout her life. She authored 16 children's novels, illustrated three picture books, and published a collection of her speeches. Her work has been translated into over a dozen languages and made into movies and plays. Ingrid Bergman starred as Mrs. Frankweiler in a 1973 adaptation of her most famous book. "Father's Arcane Daughter" won the sweeps week ratings in 1990 as a Hallmark Hall of Fame special called "Caroline." She was a featured speaker at schools, universities, and libraries. New York City and the Metropolitan Museum of Art never failed to inspire her.

Although she enjoyed meeting new people and seeing new places, she always looked forward to being home in Ponte Vedra Beach. In fine weather, she would walk along the shore and search for shark's teeth.

David Konigsburg passed away in August 2001. He and Mrs. Konigsburg had been married for 49 years.

Her sister, Harriett Rosenberg; her brothers-in-law, Leonard Konigsburg, Marvin Konigsburg and Leonard Rosenberg; and her sister-in-law, Mae Konigsburg, also predeceased her.

E.L. Konigsburg is survived by: a son, Paul and his wife Lesley and their daughters Anna and Meg; a daughter, Laurie and her husband Robert and their son Sam, Sam's wife Beth and their children Charlie and Garrett; a son, Ross and his daughters Amy and Sarah; a sister Sherry and her husband Michael; a brother-in-law, Sidney Konigsburg; and two sisters-in-law, Shirley Konigsburg and Debby Konigsburg. Many nephews, nieces and cousins also survive her.

E.L. Konigsburg was a true friend and a loving wife, sister, mother, grandmother and great grandmother. She was generous with her time and talents. She was fun. Friends and family take comfort that her writing and art leave people throughout the world with a lasting connection to her.

Donations may be made to the American Heart Association or the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

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Farrell native's works to be featured on ABC, Disney networks

Award-winning author's books are basis for movies

by Wendy Hawthorne, Herald Staff Writer
The Herald - Living/Entertainment
Friday, June 2, 1995

[Herald] Local Residents can view a double dip this weekend of made-for-TV movies based on books by Farrell native Elaine Lobl Konigsburg.

“The Secret Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” will air on ABC at 8 p.m. Saturday, Mrs. Konigsburg said. It will be broadcast on the Youngstown ABC affiliate, WYTV, Channel 33, a station sopkeswoman said.

Also Saturday, the move “Caroline?” will air at 8 p.m. on the Disney Channel. The ABC movie is based on Mrs. Konigsburg's book “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.” Mrs. Konigsburg writes under the pen name E. L. Konigsburg.

The book won the 1968 Newbery Medal for the “most distinguished contribution to literature for children.”

Mrs. Konigsburg said she wasn't involved in making the movie, but she has seen it. “The book is better,” she said, adding the movie retains a few of the book's qualities.

Her novel is about a young girl, Claudia, who decides to run away to teach her parents a “lesson in Claudia appreciation,” the author said. The girl, along with her brother, hides in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In the movie, Lauren Bacall portrays Mrs. Frankweiler, the former owner of a museum statue Claudia needs to know about. Jean-Marie Barnwell plays Claudia.

The Disney movie is based on Mrs. Konigsburg's novel, “Father's Arcane Daughter,” which was released in 1976. “Caroline?” which was produced by Hallmark Hall of Fame, netted the producers an Emmy Award, the author said in a phone interview from her home in Ponte Verde, Fla.

Mrs. Konigsburg's novel is about a young woman who appears at a home claiming to be a daughter who has been missing for 15 years.

Mrs.Konigsburg said the earlier-released movie also retains some qualities of her novel.

She's pleased her novels have been made into movies, she added.

“Local viewers will be able to get a total Konigsburg experience,” the children's author said, laughing.

About 20 years ago, NBC did a television movie, “Jennifer and Me,” basaed on Mrs. Konigsburg's novel “Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth,William McKinley and Me, Elizabeth.” The book - her first - was released in 1967 and was a runner-up for the Newbery Medal, given by the American Library Association.

The Farrell High School graduate said she has spoken about children's literature across the country for years. Her recently released book, “TalkTalk,” focuses on the history of children's literature during the last 25 years and the speeches she has given on the subject.

Mrs. Konigsburg and her husband, David, will visit Farrell in a couple of weeks to see her sister and brother-in-law.

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