July 12, 2004 by

Paula Danziger


Categories: Writers/Editors

pdanziger.jpgPaula Danziger had a gypsy sensibility. She wore long, flowing outfits and rings on every finger. Her favorite color was purple. And she traveled more than 30,000 miles a year. But to millions of children, she was the beloved creator of Amber Brown, Matthew Martin and Marcy Lewis.
A best-selling author who penned more than 25 books for young readers, Danziger had a knack for telling stories about humorous and serious life situations. Few could bypass her books on library shelves without doing a doubletake at titles such as “Can You Sue Your Parents for Malpractice?” “There’s a Bat in Bunk Five,” “Earth to Matthew” and “The Pistachio Prescription.” Her first picture book, “Barfburger Baby, I Was Here First,” is due out later this year.
Born in Washington, D.C., Danziger always wanted to be a writer. As a child, she made up stories about strangers and imagined the sorts of lives they could be living. Although her mother wanted her to become a nurse, science did not excite her. Instead, Danziger studied education at Montclair State College in New Jersey. There she met John Ciardi, a poet who soon became her mentor.
In 1970, Danziger was teaching junior high school English when she suffered two back-to-back car accidents. Convinced a third was around the corner, Danziger decided to make writing her full-time career. She published her first novel, “The Cat Ate My Gymsuit,” four years later.
Danziger’s books received many honors, including a Parents’ Choice Award, a California Young Reader Medal and a Nene Award. She also hosted a children’s book segment on the BBC show “Live & Kicking,” and co-wrote epistolary novels with Ann M. Martin, the author of “The Baby Sitters Club” series.
Danziger died on July 8 from complications of a heart attack. She was 59.
Listen to Danziger Read the First Chapter of “United Tates of America”

60 Responses to Paula Danziger

  1. Jeanne Clidas

    Paula Danziger walked through my life at a scrapbook weekend when she was working on The United Tates of America. Stranded in Hagerstown, MD when her plane was cancelled, she called and invited me to dinner. Within an hour, I knew more about her than I did about some of my best friends. I gave her a ride home to Manhattan the next morning. She had me laughing the whole way. We stopped at the Crayola Factory, talked about teaching, and giggled like children. As I left her in front of her apartment, I marveled at the woman who I had until this moment only known as the author of the some of books my 4th graders loved. I also felt I priviledged to have spent time with her. Paula’s giving nature reminded me at several future scrapbook events how important it is to look beyond your own personal pain and reach out to children with humor, creativity, and love for life. She wrote backwards in my copy of the book. She told me funny stories. She was gracious when I brought a friend to meet her last year at the SDV. She always had a nod or a giggle or a joke. Her death comes at an already very sad time in my life. Thanks Paula, for reminding me I still have a lot of living to do.

  2. Noa Nir

    Paula Danziger was a major factor of my childhood. I read almost every book that she wrote, and she was the one whose soothing words and messages gave me answers to all of my questions. Paula will always remain in my heart.

  3. Melissa

    I loved all of Paula’s books and read them over and over again as a “preteen.” I was privileged to meet Paula at a wedding two years ago and found her to be one of the most engaging and friendly people I’ve ever met. Paula had a talent for getting a lot of out of people in a short time. The previous poster alludes to this and I can confirm. We were chatting like old friends in a matter of minutes. I am glad to know that she got so much out of life, given that hers has been cut short. She will be greatly missed.

  4. Andrea Mandel

    I have met Paula Danziger a couple of times – I am head of youth services at a busy public library. She was one of the first authors to appeal to the needs of non-readers and stimulate them with her zany stories we can all relate to. Her personna was just as unintimidating as her story characters. She was charismatic, funny, and as down to earth as they come. You never felt cautious about approaching her – she always acted like she cared. And was she funny!! She just oozed with humor – her stories coaxing you into her world – wanting to know more. Oh she will be so sorely missed.
    Andrea Mandel
    Children’s and Young Adult Librarian
    Marple Public Library
    Broomall, PA 19008

  5. Nina Dunlap

    Paula Danziger’s books helped me through difficulties in my childhood…I found friends in Cassie and Marcy and realized that I wasn’t alone in the issues that I was facing. Although it seems that Judy Blume gets all the credit as the young adult writer of the century I have always appreciated Paula’s books more as companions and friends. She will be missed.

  6. Lucy Melendez

    Oh my, time does go by so very quickly. I was at Montclair State College in the summer of 1975 and
    Ms Danziger was a counselor at the Education Opportunity Program Office {EOF}. She was one of the most colorful,delightful personalities that I had the pleasure to come across in my life and even though it has been many years, I was not at all surprised at her success as a writer, but of her ability, as a warm spirit, to help ease the fears of an incoming freshman in college. I will forever be indepted to her kindness that to this day, lingers on. We lost a beautiful person. I will never forget you.

  7. Jeanie Schneider

    I’ve loved Ms. Danziger’s books for twenty years, ever since I read “The Cat Ate my Gymsuit” at age eleven. While most books for teens were of the “Mary Jane Goes to the Prom and Lives Happily Ever After” persuasion, Ms. Danziger focused on real issues – insecurity, rejection, parent-child friction. Certainly children and teenagers can identify with her characters.
    I was shocked and saddened to hear of her death. However, her death notice in the “New York Times” made me laugh – “She’s not avoiding your calls, she died on July 8, 2004”. As always, mixing humor with reality.
    Thank you for the understanding and the laughter, Paula Danziger. You will be truly missed.

  8. Barbara Wymer

    Paula came to my school and talked to my students in 1989. I had to take her back to her hotel after the presentation and my three year old son went with us. I will never forget her – she bought my son ice cream (with cherries), played video games, we ate popcorn. We spent almost 2 hours with her. We have lost one of the literary stars of children’s literature and I am very sad.

  9. Kayla

    I met Paula at the Maui Writers Conference in 2001. I was only 16 and my boyfriend of four years had left me while I was in Maui and I remember walking up to her and having her ask me what was wrong and me bursting into tears. She held me in her arms for what felt like a lifetime telling me some of the most precious advice I have ever recieved in my life. She was always the brightest person in the room, everyone wanted to be around her. She will be deeply missed.

  10. Barry Danziger

    Paula was my sister (and will always remain as such) for almost 57 years. We did not get along for over 20 years. Sometime, around the 21st, a bond started to form. It grew when I got married and had kids she could adopt. During the last 30 years we got very close — and REALIZED ALL THE TIME WE MISSED, and all the wasted effort expended in feeling ill of each other. I will miss not being able to call her and finding out “what’s happenin’.” I will miss goofing on each other at a seconds notice. I will miss that period of time when we did not get along. But what I will miss most of that period is the wasted time we spent not getting along, goofing, showing that we loved each other.
    August 18th is the anniversary of Paula’s birth. I will have a private party and rememberance consisting of myself and my sister Paula. After awhile I will open it to the rest of the family and we will play with some of the toys we got from Paula. But before that, I will call and try to make up with someone I did wrong or I will end a grudge I had.
    Why don’t you do the same in memory of Paula — pick a sibling you have lost contact with or don’t get along with now and start patching up the relationship. Paula and I were lucky — we did and it was most certainly worth it.
    God Bless!

  11. holly

    I met Paula as a young teen. She was a close friend of my father’s best friend, Nancy. She lived (at least part of the year) just down the road from my dad in Woodstock NY. She was an integral part of my young adulthood. She would listen to me and console me for hours . Being a teen can be a traumatic part of life and Paula was there for me during that time. I wish I had an opportunity to thank her. If she is out there reading; I want her to know that I love her and will never forget her kindness.
    Do yourself a favor and reread some of her work. it will energize you.

  12. PJ

    I was devasted when I first found out that Paula had passed away. I grew up on her book series Amber Brown and Matthew. They always made me feel good even if I was having the worst day of my life. The way she related to children and teens is mine boggling- as if she was one herself. I’m glad that I got the chance to meet her twice at the AC yearly scrapbooking convention. She was such a warm and caring person with the sweetest personality of anyone I and I’m sure yourself will meet in a lifetime. I will always keep the memory alive in my heart of having to spend hours talking to her. Although there will only be one more new book of hers I will buy it and place it with the ones on my shelf that she signed for me. She will know forever that her books will still touch everyone whoever read them. God Bless Paula and her family and friends. Love, A True Fan

  13. David Plotkin

    I met Paula when I attended various SCBWI conferences with my wife, who writes children’s books. I became friends with her because she needed help with her computer, and that is a talent of mine! After that, we would exchange emails periodically, and I delighted in running into her at conferences and publishing-related get-togethers. She was bright and wonderful, and always greeted me with a big hello and a hug — despite her being a “celebrity”. I shall very much miss our encounters. But now she is entertaining all those children in heaven. Aren’t they the lucky ones now!

  14. Janet Knol

    I never met Paula but I feel as if I just lost a close friend. As a children’s librarian Amber Brown was a real kid and the dialog in P.S. Longer Letter Later was so on target. So many children really relate to her characters. We will miss her so much.

  15. Barb L. Rothschild, nee Kresch

    I attended Montclair State College,and graduated with Paula in 1962. I recall we lived on the same floor in my dormitory,Russ Hall, on the second floor. Paula always kept everyone in stitches! She was ever the cheerful and creative person, even organizing a satire newspaper for those who lived on campus. She was always more than willing to bring a smile to one’s lips. I will never forget her zany laugh, nor her incandescent smile and personality. As I recall it, I never saw her without her pack of cigarettes nearby, and I recall chastising her to give them up. I deeply mourn her passing, the world has lost a wonderful person and a most talented writer. She will eternally live in the hearts of everyone, especially myself, and the world of children who so enjoyed her books. God rest her soul!

  16. Beyonce

    i love her book Can you sue ur parents for malpractice he so sad how good people die i can really realte to her book it is very intersting

  17. kellie (student)

    paula was great when she came to our school a few months ago we were just soo happy to know that my favorite author was coming!! the first day of shcool my libary teacher told me that she had passed and i started to cry…when i met her i was the luckiest person and she became my friend…Our school was the last school she ever visited…..She could wait until she turned 50 thast all shge talked about but she never got to..we will all miss ehr very much WE LOVE YOU PAULA!!

  18. Abby buchanan

    Hi! well im in 6th grade. I go to Chaska Middle School East in Chaska, MN. I’ve read 2 books of yours. P.S Longer Letter Later and Snail Mail no more. I love the books that you wrote with Ann Martin. When i was in 4th grade my best friend Liz told me about this book she just read , P.S Longer Letter Later. She suggested to me to read the book so ofcourse listening to her i did. I loved the book soooooo much! I even read it twice. When i heard the 2nd one was commming out i admedietly wanted to read it. So me and Liz read it togther. I love the characters because i think they are very easy to relate too. Well anyway,when i was reading it i thought that this book would make a magnificent movie. I just wanted to let you think about it. I love your books exspecially P.S Longer Letter Later.
    WIth LoVe,

  19. Brittany

    she inspired me and many other people to get through tough times such as divorce. it is in many of her books im doing a project on her and have read many of them. Paula was a great writer and i wish i could have met her. her stories are touching and so let her be now in peace.

  20. Kira Sadighi

    I would have liked to meet Paula Danziger she sounds like an interesting person from all the web sites I’ve been to. I have read Remember Me to Harold Squre, Thames doesn’t rhyme with james, and The United Tates of America. I am very sad that she died. I know she is in a better place.

  21. Jessica

    I really love her books. She personally inspires me to write and to not give up. She has definitely been a role model to most of her readers, that is what I know. I wish I could meet her. She did not deserve this. ]: I know that she is in a better place.

  22. Shannon

    Paula was a great author and her Amber Brown books are what got me into reading. I was so like Amber that I got hooked I read every single one. To bad I couldn’t thank her in person.

  23. larissa demarco

    i also think that paula was a nice woman because she cared about a lot of thing ever little kids. i also like that when paula dead she is now liveind in peace and she with my great grandma and she died on march-19-2005 in the hospitola. so i would like to say R.I.P the both af u and ever one else

  24. rachael

    Hi, my name is Rachael and i am in th 7th grade. As a younger child, I was obsessed with the Amber Brown series. I had 4 of them and would read them over and over again under the covers. I absolutely adored Paula’s style of writing, and I flat out refused to read any other books for about a year. Recently at my school’s Book Fair, I picked up a copy of Gordon Korman’s Chasing the Falconers. As an aspiring writer, I always take the time to read the dedications and whatnot in the front of everybook. I noticed that he had dedicated the book in memory of Paula. Immediatly, I hopped online to google to see if Paula had really passed. I sit here, devestated, that this amazing woman is no longer with us. While I eventrully grew out of Amber Brown, I never realized that she had written many many other titles. After reading some of the posts on this page, I plan to run out to the bookstore as soon as I can to pick up some more Paula classics. She was a wonderful, expressive writer who will always be with us. God Bless,

  25. rachael

    larissa–that is a beautiful prayer that I used to say every night as a child. Paula was an amazing woman and although her death was very sad, she is in a much better place now and can look down happily at her adoring fans and readers.
    God Bless,
    7th grader Rachael H.

  26. Malia H.

    Paula Danziger’s books have inspired me throughout my whole life. Characters like Cassie Stephens and Lauren Allen instilled a sense of feminism in me from a very young age. I am so grateful to Paula for that, because I would not have received that from anyone else. As I type this, my beat up copy of ‘The Divorce Express’ sits on my computer desk. Even now that I am an adult, I still read Paula’s books from time to time. They have helped me through the darkest parts of my youth, and I am so grateful to Paula for creating characters that were so endearing as well as realistic. Thank you so much, dear Ms. Danziger. I will remember you and the lessons you taught me forever.

  27. Mercede Campbell

    I have read The Pistachio Prescription, Theres a Bat in Bunk Five, and The Cat Ate My Gymsuit. At first I didn’t know if i would like the books but i have learned to love them and I hope to read more and more and pass them down to my friends as I have been doing!

  28. precious

    i was astounded to here that she had passed iwas just sad i mean she was a really grate pearson words couldent explain ive readed her books for over 5 years im 13 but i stell know how to pay my respects and i just wanna say that she didnt decirve to pass yet but i guess god wanted her more and i know how evry one of you feel i might be young but i know how it feels to lose some one that spacial cause ive lost some one like her so just keep thinking about her and it will be like shes stell here ok!! god bless and this is comming fromed the haert i loved her and her books she was so down to earth we love and miss you Paula Danziger.*

  29. Hilda Danziger

    Today June 1st 2005. Having just learnt of the death of Paula. Sincere Sympathy to all families.My interests were trying to connect any family history. IT really is a case thatI Should have started sooner. Thanks to Ashton”s (Lorraine) for informing me of this sad loss. Hilda. D.

  30. Bria

    ~I read a few of Paula’s books; I always loved how she wrote. I wish that she had lived long enough to make a trilodgy of Elizabeth and Tara*Starr’s e-mails. Paula will always be missed from all of her fans.

  31. Angela J Brown

    I became a teacher because of this great English teacher called Ms. Finney created by an even greater woman named Paula Danziger. It broke my heart to hear of her death…I never got to say Thank you Paula for creating life-like characters that changed my life. It’s so hard being a young person and I as well as so many others relate to Marcy Lewis so much. She was the voice for all who were too afraid to speak. Paula wrote important books that taught her readers to find their inner voices and to believe in themselves without fear of what others think. I read The Cat Ate My Gymsuit in the 8th grade. Now, about 20 years later, I am teaching it to my 7th grade classes here in Baumholder, Germany. My students absolutely loved the book and I could see that it had the same heart-warming effect on them as it did on me,(so many years ago!) I also write young adult liturature and I can honestly say that it’s writers like Paula that gave me the encouragement and inner faith to start writing. Her lively characters made me laugh and cry. My classes have greatly enjoyed meeting them. Paula will never be forgotten and I can only hope that my writing will effect people half as much as hers did. Thank you so much Paula…you made everything about being a 13 year old easier and so much better… God Bless you always…, Love Angela J. Brown (and about 70 7th graders in Baumholder, Germany!)

  32. Megan

    Even those i dont have many of Paulas books i do have The Cat Ate My Gymsuit. Marcy reminds me so much of myself causes thats the way i am i hide behind all of my problems and let my friends make my desicons but then i came out of my shell once I found the guy of dreams he makes me belive in myself

  33. Heather

    Paula Danziger has been my favourite writer since I first read The Cat Ate My Gymsuit back in sixth grade. Through the years I read her novels over and over, inspired and entertained and comforted by the mix of humour and reality. When my first YA novel was published last fall, I put my first shiny copy on my shelf next my favourite book, my old dog-eared paperback copy of The Pistachio Prescrition. Paula, you were greatly loved and will be sorely missed by so many. I’m so sorry that I never got to thank you in person for inspiring me to do something fun, creative and important with my life.

  34. GISELE

    omg didnt know she had died !im only 14 n the book the cat ate my gymsuit is amazing!i love her work ! i even cried in the book the cat ate my gym suit i can compare tomarcy so much ! i love her work i just wanted the grand wish to meet her in person until i just found out she died i love her work i wish i had that wish granted but i guess i cant .im so sad and i know marcy is also.

  35. Jessica Poter

    I love Paula Danziger’s books especially Amber Brown books. I haven’t read all of her books yet, but I have read all of her Amber Brown books. I too want to be an author. Puala Danziger is my favorite author and she is the one who inspirered me to start to write more and better. I hope one day I will be like her and all the kids dmy age will read my books. But for now I’m just a 10 year old. But When I heard that Paula was dead I allmost cryed I will always love her books and read them over and over. She has inspirered me since 3rd grade and now I’m in 5th grade. The first time I read one of her books was in 3rd grade and the class was reading it from our reading books and after a story the teacher always saids if you are interested in this book we have these books in our library and I liked the story so I went into the the library and got another book and I liked it again so I just kept reading those Amber Brown books until there was nothing of Amber Brown left to read. Paula Danziger is remembered by the young and the old and I hope she knows that were all thinging about her. In memory of Paula Danziger

  36. Jessica Porter

    Hi it’s me again but my real name is Jessica Porter, I didn’t check it and when I read What I wrote I was like my name is not poter. Anyway Paula Danziger I an important part of my life, to all the people that love Paula Danziger’s books I will tell you that soon I will be writer like that and when I am I want everyone to remember me. Paula Danziger is the best and I can tell she was a fantastic women and very cheerful all the time and I just want to tell her how much we all miss her and her great stories. I feel bad I never got to meet her but at least I have what im writing and my books to remember her. I will never forget Paula Danziger.
    Love Jessica Porter your #1 reader
    P.S. I want to be writer like you and remember you were the one who inspirered me, yes you Paula Danziger

  37. Rachael

    I was 12 when I first read Paula Danziger’s books – The Cat Ate My Gymsuit was my beginning. I was Marcy! Once begun, i found I could not put a Paula book down. Can You Sue Your Parents… was, and remains, my favourite. I was unwell recently and found myself re – reading Remember Me to Harold Square. Even at 28 it continues to enthrall. Such a wonderful, insightful writer, who seemed to be able to get into a young person’s psyche.
    Thank You Paula. I wish we had had you here for longer!

  38. Atene Ulimasao

    I appreciate your work through writing children books. Well we are on the story Remember me to Harold Square. It is an interesting story we like the story how the story begins towards the end.

  39. tiffany kreziwenski

    i really liked her because i was her late grand child and i only saw her once and when she died i said bye gram gram i need all the support i can get

  40. Samantha Placides

    I liked her because she was the best and she never gives up on what she is doing. Her Amber Brown books are the best.

  41. Wendy

    I love Paula’s books but some books confuse me but I think that some of the books that she had written are mostly of her life like,”The Cat Ate My Gymsuit”.I loved that book the most.I never knew that Paula’s life was like that when I read all about her and her amazing and adventurous life. -_-,xD,0_0

  42. Sarah

    Paula Danziger was my favourite author.Her books were always helpful and inspiring, they got me rearing to write,too. She made an impact on the world through her books and I would have liked to meet her in person. My favourite books would have to be “Remember Me to Harold Square” and “There’s a Bat in Bunk Five”.

  43. Verónica Bravo

    Hola Paula:
    Soy de Chile, y a mi hija que está en tercero básico le pidieron leer Seguiremos Siendo Amigos, lo leimos juntas y es genial.

  44. Linda Skolnick

    I had just finished “The Cat Ate my Gymsuit” when it was announced that the author, Paula Danziger, was going to be my 8th grade journalism teacher. We were at Lincolm Junior High School in West Orange, New Jersey…..and for once, everyone wanted to be on the school paper. In 8th grade….we never felt our teacher’s could relate to us….but Paula was “so cool”. We all looked forward to hearing about her excting life. She knew people in the movie business, and would bring us SWAG from the shows…movie posters, records…photos. We crowded around her to share our lives too. She was our teacher and she was our friend. She let us call her Paula….much to the chagrin of the Principal! After that year, she deceided to go back to writing…and to our glee, she dedicated her new book “Can you sue your parents for Malpractice” to all of us. She listed everyone one of our names. We were all so excited.
    When my daughter discovered her writings in Elementary School, you can imagine my joy. She didn’t beleive that I actually knew her, until I pulled out the book that she had dedicated to us , and pointed to my maiden name. For once my daughter, simply becasue I knew Paula, and had read her books, thought that maybe her Mom had a clue!
    Of all the teachers that I have had in my lifetime, Paula made the biggest impression. She wasn’t like other adults. She related to us, she trully listened to us, and she never judged us. Instead, she inspired us! I am only sorry that we did not keep in touch longer. I am sorry that such a great lady is no longer sharing her wild ideas with us!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *