For my June author, I thought I would feature someone I’ve been fond of for many years but who is no longer with us. I first heard of Eleanor Frances Lattimore more than ten years ago when a friend gave my son Jake an old copy of the children’s book, Little Pear.
I soon found more books in the series as well as others she’d written about China. Some were published in the 1930s–pre-PRC–and many afterwards. Her stories set in China are very culturally-sensitive and show China from eyes of a young child. Little Pear is always getting into trouble with his best friend, Big Head. The boys live in the countryside, but ride a donkey to school.
I was curious about Eleanor Lattimore, so I did a little research and learned that she was born in Shanghai in 1904. Her father taught at a university there, but when he was offered a job at Dartmouth in 1920–when Eleanor was 16–the family returned to the US.
She must have had a fabulous memory because her books set in China are so vivid and make it seem like she was writing from the countryside there. I don’t see any record that she returned to China–at least not to live–after she repatriated to the US in her teenage years.