Children’s book editor Nina Ignatowicz died on January 19 after a brief illness. She was 75. Ignatowicz began her career in children’s books in 1961, when she was hired by Susan Hirschman to be the receptionist for Harper's Department of Books for Boys and Girls. She soon proved to have a flair for spotting talent and ended up in editorial, working for Ferd Monjo. She spent three decades at Harper, 15 as editorial director of the Harper & Row imprint. She was responsible for the growth of the I Can Read list and worked with Syd Hoff, Peggy Parish, Crosby Bonsall, Elizabeth Winthrop, Emily McCully, William Joyce, sand Joan Sandin, among many others. Ignatowicz moved to Clarion Books in 1991 and then to Henry Holt in 1999, as executive editor. She became editor-at-large for Holt in 2002 and retired at the end of 2007.
Ignatowicz was born in Ukraine and came to the U.S. after World War II. She spoke Russian, German, French, and English; she actively acquired books from foreign countries and often translated them as well, among them The Bear and the People and The Crane by Reiner Zimnik.
Author Peter Sís said of Ignatowicz, “She was one of the most inspirational people I met when I first came to New York, leading the market rather than following a trend. Her world view made me feel at home and she leaves a wonderful legacy.”
Laura Godwin, v-p and publisher of Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, paid tribute to her former colleague: “Nina was passionate and outspoken, and a fierce and loyal advocate for her authors. We will miss her unique perspective, lively engagement and unflagging enthusiasm for readers, books, and all those who make them.”