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Rhoda Blumberg, Whose Children’s Books Brought History to Life, Dies at 98

Historians in the News
tags: obituary, Rhoda Blumberg



Rhoda Blumberg, who was barely interested in reading until she was 10, began writing historical books for children when she was in her mid-50s, and produced more than two dozen over three decades, died on June 6 at her home in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. She was 98.

The cause was Alzheimer’s disease, her son, Larry, said.

Inspired by a former colleague, a researcher for the newspaper feature “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!,” Ms. Blumberg infused her nonfiction with enlightening nuggets that tantalized young readers. One of her books, “Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun,” received the Newbery Honor for literature from the Association for Library Service to Children in 1986.

In The New York Times Book Review, Elisabeth Bumiller described Ms. Blumberg’s “Shipwrecked! The True Adventures of a Japanese Boy” in 2001 as “the historically accurate and amazing story of a poor fisher boy, Manjiro, who by storm and providence became the first Japanese person to live in the United States, arriving in Massachusetts in 1843 as a member of a whaling crew.” 

“Blumberg manages to write an absorbing adventure story that is both politically sophisticated and culturally perceptive about two nations at odds,” the review concluded. ...

Read entire article at NYT


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