Meindert De Jong
Born in Wierum, the Netherlands, Meindert De Jong.
When he was a young boy his family came to Grand Rapids, Michigan. While working on the family farm in the 1930’s, Meindert began writing short stories. A number of these were published in magazines. He began selling eggs door-to-door and became acquainted with the children’s librarian, Mae Quigley. She encouraged him to write his stories down and in 1938 his first book was published, "The Big Goose and the Little White Duck".
He was inducted into the U.S. Army in 1944 and after his discharge he returned to Grand Rapids and resumed writing children’s books. During his career, he wrote 24 books. In 1954 "The Wheel on the School" won the Newberry Award. Many of his books were based on his childhood memories of the Netherlands. "The House of Sixty Fathers" based on his WWII experiences was a runner-up for the Newberry Award and in 1962, he was the first American to win the Christian Anderson Award for contributions to children’s literature.
His first marriage to Hattie DeJong in 1933 ended in divorce. In 1962 he married Beatrice McElwee. They retired to Mexico for six years but eventually decided to return to the United States. They lived in North Carolina for five years and then moved to Allegan, Michigan.
Beatrice died in 1978 and Meindert in 1991. Beatrice’s death marked the end of Meindert’s writing career as he considered her his best editor and critic.
Created: 21 Oct 2006