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Norma Kassirer, a native of Buffalo, NY, is best known for her classic children's book Magic Elizabeth, a chapter book for middle-grade children that is featured in Eden Ross Lipson's New York Times Parents Guide to the Best Books for Children (Revised and Updated Edition). It was first published by The Viking Press in 1966 and subsequently by Scholastic, Random House, and Harper Collins in paperback editions. Generations of children continue to enjoy this timeless story, which has garnered 78 ratings on Amazon.com and 50 five-star rave reviews. Another chapter book, The Doll Snatchers, was also published by The Viking Press a couple of years later.

    And now, a previously unpublished beginning chapter book of hers, The Knitting Witch, will be published in Fall 2024 by The Collective Book Studio and distributed by Simon & Schuster. It will be available wherever books are sold. Recently discovered by her daughter Sue and remembered vividly from childhood, this magical tale has been taken to new, unimagined heights by master illustrator Mark Richardson.

    Norma is also the author of numerous books and short stories for adults including The Hidden Wife (Shuffaloff Press),illustrated by Willyum Rowe, Katzenjammered, a novella (BlazeVOX [books], Minnows as Small as Sixteenth Notes: The Collected Poems of Norma Kassirer, edited by Ann Goldsmith and Edric Mesmer, and Milly (Buffalo Ochre Press). Other stories and poems have appeared in various journals and collections, including Blatant Artifice, Sow's Ear, and Yellow Edenwald Field. Two chapbooks were published posthumously, Three Poems (The Poetry Collections, University of Buffalo) and a collection of asemic writing, The 1985 Notebook (Buffalo Ochre Papers). In 1991, author John Barth described Kassirer's stories as "sly, wry and fanciful, fairy-tale realistic."

    Also a painter and book artist, examples of Norma's handmade books can be found in the collection of the Albright Knox Art Gallery and in The Poetry Collection of the University Libraries, University of Buffalo, the State University of New York. Paintings of hers are held by The Poetry Collection and The Burchfield Art Center, both in Buffalo, NY, and many others can be viewed at the Brighton Place library in Tonawanda, NY. Norma was also an avid member of Hallwalls, the renowned art gallery, where she gave readings, organized the archives, and in the early days painted the ceiling of the original space.

    Norma came from a long line of writers: her father wrote articles for Canadian magazines about his experience in World War I; her brother was a prize-winning poet; a great-great aunt wrote poetry for Harper's Magazine in the 1800s; and a great-great-great uncle founded a literary journal in New York City with Edgar Allen Poe and, under a pseudonym (Harry Franco), produced a number of best-selling sea-faring novels. Her daughter Karen was actively engaged in writing and publishing, as is her daughter Sue.

Norma vividly remembered the last words of her first poem, written at a very early age, alone at the table in the family dining room in Buffalo, New York. The words were, "and in its place stood a golden rose!" She did not remember what the poem was about, but vividly recalled the thrill that ran through her as she read that resonant last line. Where had it come from? She had no idea, but she knew that, in search of another . . . and another . . . thrill of such dimension, she would never stop writing. And she didn't.

    At the time of her passing in 2013, The Buffalo News called Norma an "author, poet and artist who influenced generations of local writers and artists." Indeed, she did.