On Monday, April 6, 2020, renowned children’s author (Flora) Jean Little died peacefully in Hospice Wellington, Guelph, Ontario.
Jean was born in Taiwan on January 2, 1932, to medical missionary parents, Dr. John Llewellyn Little and Dr. Flora Gauld Little.
She is survived by her sister, Patricia de Vries, her great-niece Jeanie and her great-nephew Ben—whom she and Patricia raised together—her sister-in-law, Donna Little, four nieces (Robin, Maggie, Allison and Kyrie), six nephews (Chris, Brian, Adam, Martin, Peter and Mark), and thirteen more great-nieces and nephews.
She was predeceased by her parents, her brothers, Jamie and Hugh, her sister-in-law Pat, her niece, Sarah de Vries, and her four Seeing Eye dogs, Zephyr, Ritz, Honey and Pippa.
The author of sixty books for young people, Jean Little won many awards; she became a Member of the Order of Canada in 1993. She spoke in schools and at conferences throughout North America, in Great Britain, Bulgaria and India. She taught children’s literature at the University of Guelph and received honorary degrees from six Canadian universities. Legally blind all her life, Jean had her first poems published when she was a teenager and received her Bachelor of Arts from Victoria College at the University of Toronto in 1954. Always an avid reader, she found that children with disabilities were rarely realistically portrayed in stories. So, in her late twenties, she wrote her first book, a novel about a girl with cerebral palsy. Mine for Keeps won an award and caused Jean to turn from her work teaching handicapped children to life as a fulltime writer. Her last picture-book Harry’s Hiccups was published in 2018, and right up until her 88th birthday she was writing poetry and working on Sing Your Way Home, the third volume of her autobiography.
She will be greatly missed by her family, her friends, fellow writers and generations of loyal readers.
Arrangements entrusted to the WALL-CUSTANCE FUNERAL HOME & CHAPEL, 519-822-0051 or wallcustance.com – Condolences can be forwarded to her family via the funeral home website, below Jean’s notice.
Due to COVID-19, there will be no service at this time.
In lieu of flowers, consider making a donation to the charity of your choice, to Hospice Wellington, or to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, or the Seeing Eye, both organizations dear to Jean’s heart.
A tree will be planted in memory of F. Jean Little in the Wall-Custance Memorial Forest, University of Guelph Arboretum. Dedication service, Sunday, September 20, 2020 at 2:30 pm.