While Pat's name was the only one on many of their books, they truly were a team, from the research and development phase to the discussions with children after publication. I was honored to meet both of them at a visit with our River City Readers classrooms at Patrick Henry Downtown Academy when the fourth- and fifth-graders received their latest collaboration, Never Forgotten (illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon, the former of which we also lost last year). While that visit demonstrated that in many way Pat was the public face of their work, Fred was always behind her, backing her with his research, his support and his love. He never intended to make a career of writing, but when he saw it was her passion, it became his as well. The result was a decades-long partnership that advanced immeasurably not only the state of fiction and nonfiction books for African-Americans of all ages and reading levels, but children's literature in general. The McKissack's books have received the Newbery and Caldecott Honors, the Coretta Scott King Author Award and many more in the field. Pat reports that they were working on another book, which she plans to finish, up until his death. In the meantime, his vast legacy of writing will continue to inform and entertain those of all ages for many years to come.
For more on Fred and Pat's life and work, you can read his obituary and a republished feature article at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.