Marjorie Weinman Sharmat had two goals as a baby — to develop into a detective and to be a author. By age eight she had achieved each, after she and a pal put out their very own spy newspaper, The Snooper’s Gazette. Most of its information got here from eavesdropping on adults.
It was glorious coaching for her future profession. Ms. Sharmat grew to become one in all the nation’s most prolific authors of kids’s books, together with the fashionable “Nate the Great” detective sequence, which has helped generations of kids learn to learn — and the way to sleuth. (Tip: It typically helps to have your canine by your aspect.)
Ms. Sharmat died at 90 on Tuesday in Munster, Ind. Her son Andrew Sharmat mentioned the trigger was respiratory failure. She had moved to Indiana from Tucson to be nearer to him, he mentioned.
Ms. Sharmat turned out greater than 130 books for kids and younger adults, a lot of which have been translated into a number of languages. They have repeatedly been Literary Guild alternatives and infrequently chosen as a e-book of the yr by the Library of Congress.
But she was most identified for her “Nate the Great” sequence, the first of which appeared in 1972.
Nate is a boy detective who wears a Sherlock Holmes-style deerstalker hat, loves pancakes and at all times catches his perpetrator, often with the assist of his canine, Sludge. (The hat was added by the illustrator Marc Simont, who drew the first 20 “Nate” books.)
Nate shortly emerged as one thing of a popular culture determine. His image as soon as adorned 28 million packing containers of Cheerios, to advertise kids’s literacy, and he has cropped up as the reply in a New York Times crossword puzzle.
Some “Nate” books have been made into tv films; one, “Nate the Great Goes Undercover” (1974), received the Los Angeles International Children’s Film Festival Award. The New York Public Library named “Nate the Great Saves the King of Sweden” (1997) as one in all its 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing.
Ms. Sharmat was born Marjorie Weinman on Nov. 12, 1928, in Portland, Me., to Anna (Richardson) and Nathan Weinman, co-owner of a dry items retailer, for whom the boy detective was named. She attended Westbrook Junior College, now Westbrook College, in Portland in the 1940s. She met Mitchell Sharmat while vacationing in Florida, and they married in 1957.
The idea for Nate came to her after she had children and began paying attention to children’s reading material.
“She picked up ‘Dick and Jane’ and said, ‘This is awful, it has no story line,’ ” her son Andrew said in a telephone interview. “She wanted to do something more interesting, but something a first- or second-grader could pick up.”
Ms. Sharmat had enjoyed watching detective shows on television. “She was a big ‘Dragnet’ fan — ‘just the facts,’ ” he said. “She loved to watch Joe Friday and police shows, and the way they talked inspired her.”
Writing the “Nate” stories became a family affair. Her husband created a cousin for Nate named Olivia Sharp, also a detective, and the couple wrote a series of Olivia Sharp books. Ms. Sharmat’s sister, Rosalind Weinman, was co-author of “Nate the Great and the Pillowcase” (1993). Another son, Craig, collaborated with his mother on three “Nate” books, including “Nate the Great and the Musical Note” (1990). And Andrew helped her write another series, “Kids on the Bus,” in the early 1990s.
One of Ms. Sharmat’s earliest books, “Goodnight Andrew; Goodnight Craig” (1969), was about her sons.
In addition to Andrew, she is survived by her son Craig as well as two grandchildren (one of whom is named Nate). Her husband died in 2011 and her sister in 2006.
Andrew Sharmat said his mother had constantly taken notes on scraps of paper. “She never went anywhere without a notepad,” he said.
And once she started being published, he said, there was no stopping her. “It was like she was launched into the stratosphere,” he said. “She loved it. She didn’t cook our dinner — she wrote books.”
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