Sid Fleischman. I am not as familiar with his rather extensive list of titles as I should be, having only read the Newbery winner The Whipping Boy and his autobiography, The Abracadabra Kid. But his reputation in the world of children's literature is enormous, and his loss cannot be understated. He was a remarkable individual who did what every writer aspires to: he created a tangible link between books and magic through a simple yet auspicious career change. He applied to his writing the same discipline he applied to his magic, and consequently his books are finely crafted bundles of.......dare I say it?.......magic. As author Elizabeth Bluemle perceptively notes in her blog at PW, he was a master at writing for the 7-10 age bracket, a sometimes tricky level where the reading bug can either be nurtured by the perfect connection between child and book, or nipped by the pressure to move on to longer, meatier chapter books. Any child that ended up with a Sid Fleischman book in their hands was in good shape.
Sid Fleischman's contribution to the world of childrens literature is also unique in the fact that he is the only Newbery winner who has fathered another Newbery Winner, author Paul Fleischman. He really was something special when it came to nurturing readers, considering the success in his own household!
You can read an obituary for this remarkable man here. A complete bibliography, including his final book, a biography about Charlie Chaplin due for release in April, can be found here, at his web site.