Friday, May 15, 2009

Who is “Carolrhoda”?

I have been addressed as “Ms. Rhoda” in queries and other correspondence many times since I started here in fall 2008. I don’t mind at all, but I do think the true story of the name is worth telling. Fortunately, I don’t have to do it, since Harry Lerner, the founder of Lerner Publishing Group and of the Carolrhoda imprint, has released his memoirs, and there’s a fine chapter on the real Carolrhoda. So here it is, straight from Harry’s book.

Carolrhoda LocketzCarolrhoda Locketz was a bubbly, perky girl who died too young. She was [my wife] Sharon [Lerner’s] best friend. Their mothers were close friends, and the two girls grew up together. They shared everything: stories, trips, and adventures. As students at the University of Minnesota, they spent a lot of evenings at the Ten O’Clock Scholar, a hangout on the West Bank of the university campus. They listened to the music of a young student dropout, Bob Zimmerman, later known as Bob Dylan.

While a university student, Carolrhoda worked part-time as a page at the Saint Paul Public Library. After graduation in 1962, she joined the Peace Corps. They assigned her to be a teacher-librarian in Harar, Ethiopia. Carolrhoda poured herself into the job and the people she worked with. She even set aside two hundred dollars of her own meager salary to create an educational fund for a twelve-year-old Ethiopian boy.

Peace Corps director Sargent Shriver, John F. Kennedy’s brother-in-law, visited Harar when Carolrhoda was serving there. Carolrhoda met with Shriver and talked about the great need for books in Ethiopian libraries. He obviously listened because back in the United States he began a book drive for libraries everywhere Peace Corps volunteers served.

After returning to the United States, Carolrhoda married Gordon L. Rozell, an army sergeant she had met in Ethiopia. She died of cancer in 1967, two years after her marriage. She was only twenty-eight years old.

After Carolrhoda’s untimely death, Sharon wanted to honor and pay tribute to her best friend, who was also Adam [Lerner’s] godmother. So in 1969, we named the Carolrhoda imprint after her. It was a beautiful way to immortalize Carolrhoda’s memory in a manner that exemplified her love of books and learning. Sharon envisioned Carolrhoda books as attractive storybooks, heavily illustrated with art or photography. The first books were This Is..., a rhyming story for beginning readers, and Have You Seen My Mother?, the story of a brightly colored ball that searches for its mother at the circus.

The imprint was Sharon’s hobby and passion, and she was thrilled each time a Carolrhoda book won an award or received a favorable review. Eventually, after Adam came on board, Carolrhoda became our trade imprint, and he added many new titles, including his first acquisition, the Little Wolf books by Ian Whybrow. I’m proud to say Carolrhoda is celebrating its fortieth anniversary [in 2009].


Pat Schmatz said...

I was so happy to come across this chapter in Harry's memoir. It gave me bonus happy feelings about being published under the Carorhoda imprint.

Anonymous said...

A beautiful tribute to a woman who set the bar for generousity and kindness very high.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely way to keep a person's spirit alive.

Julie Wright said...

that is simply beautiful. What a great way to memorialize someone.

redmountainschoolreunion said...

Please tell me if I can obtain copies of Ole hertz'z Tobias book about Greenland.
According to Open Library you published s series about the greenlandish boy Tobias in 1984.
I know them from when I lived in Greenland, but only the Danish editions.
Gerda O'Leary

Lora1967 said...

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Hi my name is Lora Wiedenheft.
I am a reviewer and a fight illiteracy advocate .I wanted to know if can I get on your mailing list to send books for review. We need updated books so desperately. I review books and then donate to he Middletown High School library. I am interested in your Books for our school library. Arcs are ok. Any YA books you can send for review would be awesome. God will bless you for your help.We really could use your book in our library. I will review before I donate. I live in a low income community and we are struggling to get books in our high school. I wanted to know if you can donate a set of your books (hardcover if you have them) (that way they last for years), even paperback is greatly appeciated.It means so much to them to get these books. We are low income city and most parents cant afford new books right now. We used to have a steel mill her and they packed up and left. Causing a lot of job loss. The school levy then failed. I'm not to proud to ask, Please send an email address with it and we can let you know when the review is done.
Can you please help us out.
Please place me on your list of Arc or regular YA reviews in the future.
We both thank you
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Anonymous said...

I met Carol Rhoda's mother around 1976 (neighbors); I was in my early twenties, and she would tell me how much I reminded her of her daughter, quite an honor. She was so very proud of Carol Rhoda, and I heard many wonderful stories of her life. Her lovely mother, Charlotte, was a delightful and kind person, so no wonder Carol Rhoda was too.