Sutherland, 19162002, influenced childrens literature
Professor Emerita Zena Sutherland, an internationally recognized reviewer of childrens literature who edited the Universitys Bulletin of the Center for Childrens Books for nearly 30 years and whose textbook Children and Books is a classic in the field of library science, died Wednesday, June 12. She was 86.
A faculty member from 1972 to 1986 in the Universitys Graduate Library School, which closed in 1991, Sutherland is among the worlds most influential and prolific scholars of young peoples literature.
She wrote 19 books and reviewed more than 30,000 childrens books during more than 40 years as a critic of childrens literature.
In addition to editing the Universitys Bulletin, Sutherland wrote the monthly Books for Young People column for Saturday Review from 1966 to 1972 and was the childrens books editor at the Chicago Tribune from 1972 to 1984.
Childrens book author Maurice Sendak has called her a giant in the field.
She was one of the few people who, as an individual, had an extraordinary impact on childrens literature, said Roger Sutton (A.M., 82), a former student of Sutherlands who now is editor in chief of The Horn Book Magazine, a leading journal of childrens literature.
As a reviewer, Sutton said, Sutherland gave the study of childrens literature credibility. She took the gloves off, Sutton said. Her reviews were like nothing before them. Other reviewers of childrens books during the 1960s and 1970s were more genteel, said Sutton. They would simply ignore childrens books they didnt like. Not Zena.
She gave honest, fair, sophisticated reviews, Sutton said. She brought childrens book criticism to a new level.
As important as her reviews was her work as an educator. Sutherland is most widely known as the author of the textbook Children and Books. She co-wrote several editions of the textbook with May Hill Arbuthnot and wrote five additional editions of the bookthe last one published in 1996after Arbuthnots death in 1969.
As an Associate Professor in the Universitys Graduate Library program, Sutherland taught the courses Childrens Literature and Literature for Young Adults. She was a very popular teacher, said Martin Runkle, Director of the Regenstein Library, who taught at the Graduate Library program during Sutherlands tenure. She was warm, funny, smart. Just a very charismatic person.
Born in Winthrop, Mass., and raised in Chicago, Sutherland is a 1937 Chicago graduate. She also earned a masters degree in library science from the University, intending to pursue a career as a medical librarian. Her experience as a mother of three children inspired her to take several courses in childrens literature. In 1958, she was hired as editor of the Bulletin of the Center for Childrens Books, which is a comprehensive guide to all the latest literature published for children.
Sutherland received many awards and honors, including the 1998 Norman MacLean Faculty Award. She served as a member of several committees within the American Library Association, including the Newberry and Caldecott award committees.
In 1983, two former students established the Zena Sutherland Lecture Series, and two years ago, the University Laboratory Schools established the Zena Sutherland Prizes in Childrens Literature. The Sutherland awards are unique because the judges are pupils at the Lab Schools Lower School.
Survivors include three children: Stephen Bailey, an associate dean and professor of history at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill.; Thomas Bailey, a teacher in Hellebaek, Denmark; and Katherine Linehan, a professor of English at Oberlin College. She also is survived by seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Her second husband, Alec Sutherland, preceded her in death in 1990.