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Remembering NYT Books Editor Eden Ross Lipson

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Remembering NYT Books Editor Eden Ross Lipson


Remembering NYT Books Editor Eden Ross Lipson

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The obituary for my friend and colleague Eden Ross Lipson appeared this morning in the New York Times. She worked at the newspaper for more than 30 years, most memorably as an editor at the Book Review where she specialized in children's books.

We met during the New York City newspaper strike in 1978 when NPR and our member station WNYC put together a show called "The Sunday Papers,' which featured journalists from all three dailies. Some of whom had voices for print. Not Eden. She was blessed with a rare set of pipes that allowed her personality to stretch across its full range from dead serious sobriety, to one of the most infectious laughs on record. She was smart, curious, funny, and whatever she did, she did it with her whole heart. And if she didn't like it, you'd hear about that too.

There are just a few of people in my life that I would describe with the word gracious, and Eden Ross Lipson will always be among them.

She was also great at her job. You may remember her as the author of the New York Times' "Parent's Guide to Best Books for Children," The Times' Annual List of Best Illustrated Books and her many appearance on TV and radio.

On Election Day, six years ago, we invited her on this program to participate as we tried to assemble a library of democracy.

Ms. EDEN ROSS LIPSON (Editor, Book Review, New York Times): Well, I think we should back off a second and talk about where democracy begins. And isn't it after all on the playground and in the schoolyard? And isn't that where we learn how to treat other people and how we want to be treated? And isn't that behavior reinforced at home, at night before you go to bed and the stories that you read and the things that you talk to your parents about?

And while the shelf that's being built by your participants and callers is one that's directed to adults, there's also a way of talking to really little children about the modes of behavior that underlie everything we think about democracy. And I decided not to put forth names of books that you read on your own but rather the ones that you read when you're sitting in someone's lap and they're read to you.

And then, right now, there's a new book out that I'm just enchanted by, called "Two Eggs, Please," okay? Sounds like it's about democracy.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Or breakfast, one or the other.

Ms. ROSS LIPSON: So a mouse walks into a diner and says two eggs, please. A series of animals come into a diner and they all order two eggs, but they order them sunny side up and over easy and scrambled and soft boiled and hard boiled and on a roll and poached and raw. And the eggs are the same, and they're different. And the animals who order them are different but they order the same thing.

And I think that can really be seen as a way of talking about the broadest notions of democracy and cooperation.

CONAN: Eden Ross Lipson who died Tuesday from complications of pancreatic cancer at the age of 66. Our condolences to her family.

And as she would have liked, we finish with a publication note: this August, the Roaring Brook Press will publish a book for children: "Applesauce Season" by Eden Ross Lipson.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

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