Florence Parry Heide, author of more than 100 books for children, died at home in Kenosha, Wis., on October 24. She was 92. Heide’s career began later in life, at age 48, while she was raising her five children, but the ensuing decades proved prolific and fruitful. Heide's books were illustrated by such acclaimed artists as Edward Gorey, Jules Feiffer and Lane Smith, among others.
Among her best known and critically acclaimed works are the Treehorn books, illustrated by Gorey. The first of that series, The Shrinking of Treehorn, was published in 1971 and was named one of the best illustrated children’s books of the year by the New York Times.
Her more recently published books include Princess Hyacinth, the Surprising Tale of a Girl who Floated, illustrated by Lane Smith, and The One and Only Marigold, illustrated by Jill McElmurry, both published by Random House’s Schwartz & Wade imprint. She also wrote under the pseudonyms Alex B. Allen and Jamie McDonald.
Lane Smith, speaking about Heide with PW, said that his relationship with the author went back to 1992, when he wrote her a fan letter and told her how much her work had meant to him. When they did some joint events for their 2009 book Princess Hyacinth, Smith said he was “completely amazed by her boundless energy and enthusiasm. I had to keep reminding myself that she was 90!” He added, “It was a delight to work with one of my true idols, and she will be sadly missed. For those of us in the field, those Treehorn books were watershed books.”
According to the Kenosha News, at a local event honoring her in fall 2009, Heide told a reporter that she was delighted and in a state of disbelief— as if she was going to float off in the air with balloons, like her character Princess Hyacinth. She said, “I’ve never been so happy in my whole life. If this is what 90 is like, I highly recommend it.”