New York, NY (July 11, 2023)—Little, Brown Books for Young Readers is saddened to announce the passing of Mary Ann Hoberman, award-winning author and former Children’s Poet Laureate. The author of more than fifty books, Hoberman wrote poetry for over sixty-five years. She died after a long illness on July 7 in the Greenwich, Connecticut, home she lived in for sixty years, designed by her husband, architect Norman Hoberman. She was ninety-two years old.
Megan Tingley, President and Publisher, LBYR, said, “Mary Ann and I worked together for my entire career, from the first month I started working at Little, Brown as an editorial assistant in 1987, until 2023 in my current role; publishing over twenty-five books together. For Mary Ann, writing poetry was as essential as breathing. She had a gift for finding the extraordinary in everyday things—buttons and pennies, butter and jam—she could write a poem about anything. She was still writing until the week she passed away, composing a new farewell poem to share at a “bon voyage” party she hosted for family and friends. That is quintessential Mary Ann—creating joy out of a sorrowful occasion.”
Mary Ann Hoberman was born in Stamford, Connecticut. She earned a BA in history from Smith College and later received an MA in English literature from Yale University. She was a founding member of “The Pocket People,” a local children’s theater group, for which she wrote and performed plays and songs. Her first book of poems, All My Shoes Come in Twos, was published in 1957 and illustrated by her husband. Some of her best-known titles include A House Is a House for Me, which won the National Book Award in 1983, The Seven Silly Eaters, illustrated by Marla Frazee, and The Llama Who Had No Pajama, a collection of one hundred of her favorite poems. At the time of her death, she was working on How Elegant the Elephant, a compilation of celebrated and unpublished poems about the world of animals and insects, illustrated by Marla Frazee and to be published in Fall 2024.
A longtime volunteer with Literacy Volunteers of America, Hoberman made literacy one of her primary concerns, and the cause inspired her to write the New York Times bestselling You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You series, published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. In 2020, she published with Carolyn Hopley an anthology of poems about age and aging, Coming to Age: Growing Older with Poetry. Her poems have been widely anthologized, and her books have been translated into several languages, including Arabic, Chinese, French, and Italian. In 2003, she received the Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children from the National Council of Teachers of English. She was an active member of the Garden Conservancy and a board member of the Chamber Players of the Greenwich Symphony.
Hoberman served as the Poetry Foundation’s Children’s Poet Laureate (now named the Young People’s Poet Laureate) from 2008 to 2011. Former president of the Poetry Foundation John Barr remarked at the time that “whether she’s writing about lonely pets or befuddled fauna or little kids still figuring out the world, Hoberman’s poems are always fundamentally about the language, and about introducing its capacity for magic and puzzlement and emotional meaning to the world’s youngest poetry readers.”
Mary Ann Hoberman is survived by her brother; her four children, Diane, Perry, Chuck, and Meg; and six grandchildren. She was predeceased by her husband, Norman Hoberman, and her grandson, Theo Moszynski.
About Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers is a division of Hachette Book Group, a leading trade publisher based in New York and a division of Hachette Livre, the third-largest trade and educational publisher in the world. HBG is made up of eight publishing groups: Little, Brown and Company, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Grand Central Publishing, Perseus Books, Orbit, Hachette Nashville, Hachette Audio, and Workman. For more information, visit hbgusa.com.
LBYR Contact: Marisa Russell, Executive Director of Publicity