After the library, garage sales were my biggest source of books when I was a kid. Standard pricing was a dime for paperbacks, a quarter for hardbacks. And Saturday after Saturday, I’d read the back of a book in someone’s driveway, turn it over, and see it was by Ruth Chew.
This was before I really understood that live authors wrote books, and that all the books by one author have something in common. I had no conscious awareness of style yet. But seeing Ruth Chew’s name gave me a certain feeling, of action and slightly nasty characters and witchcraft that was more dangerous than cute.
She was never one of my favorite authors, but thanks to the Scholastic book club and its garage-sale recirculation, she was omnipresent in my world like an element in the earth. (In fact, I just found out she illustrated Shark Lady, another paperbook that seemed to always be around when I was a kid!) It never occurred to me that she would die.
Obituary, with a nice photo.