E.L. Konigsburg, 83; honored for children’s books

FALLS CHURCH, Va. — E.L. Konigsburg, an author who twice won one of the top honors for children’s literature, died Friday at a hospital in Falls Church, Va. She was 83.

She had suffered a stroke a week before she died, said her son Paul, who added the longtime Florida resident had recently moved to Virginia.

Ms. Konigsburg won the John Newbery Medal in 1997 for her book ‘‘The View from Saturday’’ and in 1968 for ‘‘From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.’’

The Newbery is one of the top honors for children’s literature. Her family says she wrote 16 children’s novels and illustrated three picture books.


Her first book, ‘‘Jennifer, Hecate, MacBeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth’’ was also a Newbery honor book in 1968, making her the only author to be a winner and runner-up in the same year.

In 1997, the Newbery committee called her story of a sixth grade Academic Bowl team and their coach ‘‘a unique, jubilant tour de force characterized by good humor, positive relationships, distinctive personalities, and brilliant story-telling.’’

In 2004, she told The Dallas Morning News that she built her characters and plots by imagining what-if situations with her children and grandchildren. ‘‘I think most of us are outsiders,’’ she said. ‘‘And I think that’s good because it makes you question things. I think it makes you see things outside yourself.’’

Her stories were also adapted for movies and television. Ingrid Bergman starred as Mrs. Frankweiler in a 1973 film adaptation, called “The Hideaways,’’ of Ms. Konigsburg’s book.

Ms. Konigsburg grew up in Pennsylvania and graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in chemistry. She married David Konigsburg in 1952. The couple settled near Jacksonville, Fla.

Ms. Konigsburg, who had two sons and a daughter and five grandchildren, started writing and illustrating children’s books when her youngest child began kindergarten. Her husband died in 2001.