I add my voice to the many others who note the passing of Tasha Tudor with sadness. Many lives have been touched by Tasha’s art and her stories, including my own. I extend to the family and those who may have known and been close to Tasha and the kids my condolences and offer prayers and blessings upon their hearts and lives in their time of loss.
My own story with Tasha began early one morning in September of 1994 when I received a phone call from a friend in Vermont who had heard that Tasha would be doing a book signing not far from her home. A few days later I found myself, dressed in a suit (those who know me know I do not do suits often), standing in front of Tasha, with books in hand and asking if she would grace my new (just opened) used bookstore with a book signing. Unknown to me at the time was the fact that she had just severed her long time relationship with Jenny Wren Press, and her response was a simple “yes.” A few days later we talked on the phone, a date was set, a plan laid down, and the journey has not stopped.
I can only say now, in hindsight, I had little idea of the tiger’s tale I had grabbed on to. It was only a few weeks later when over 300 people showed up at my store on the most beautiful November day one could have ordered. It was only after I had sold—through phone orders, mail orders and in person—some 2,000 books that it hit me: this lady is really liked and people buy her books. I had been baptized into book selling by one of the major names in the children’s book market in a manner I had not expected. And to think I’d had the outrageous idea of inviting Tasha and both her daughters back to my store in 6 months!
In the interim I moved my store down the street and laid plans for what would turn out to be my confirmation as a bookseller. No one had ever had all three Tudor women together on stage and I now knew that this was a big deal. We called the event “A Magical Moment in Time” and held it on Mother’s Day 1995. Over 400 participants and again thousands of books later Tasha and her daughters had provided me with a truly “magical moment.”
I had moved into a 2,500 square foot space, not yet full of books, with plenty of floor space, and yet it was the only time I have ever asked people to leave the store unless they were in line to have a book signed or in line (yes, I do mean a line deeper than I have ever seen) paying for books. I actually became concerned about the safety of the situation.
On a personal note, the best gift of the day was seeing how much joy my parents had in being the personal escort and drivers for the Tudor women. Mom & Dad showed up with a very plush recreational van with bucket seats. In my youngest days, my parents operated a taxi business, at that time, in the heart of New Hampshire’s tourist destination, the White Mountains. Knowing that their own personalities would help in setting the tone with Tasha, Bethany & Efner, I left the delivery of the Tudor women to the auditorium in Nashua in their good hands. To this day my folks talk about that time and when I am in touch with Bethany and Efner they always ask for my Mom & Dad.
I have always been appreciative of what my relationship with Tasha and her daughters has meant both personally and in my business. There are many stories around Tasha and many individuals who have shared in the “Tudor Experience.” The Tudor fans are as loyal and respectful as any group of supporters and book buyers I’ve known.
The gift of art and story that Tasha created is documented in the Tasha Tudor Bibliography by John & Jill Hare. I call it the most detailed bibliography ever done on a single author. But I expect what will live beyond her creative work are the stories of Tasha, her charismatic nature, her determination and tenacity in living a life style choice that had few of the modern comforts, yet was portrayed as a simple, comfortable, fun loving, and just glorious way to live.
I expect most of us live our lives knowing that we may help or touch someone beyond our own families; Tasha touched many more than can be counted or than she herself ever knew. The theme of her work reached out to many who admired and revered Tasha. Her loyal fans will be saddened. And the book trade has been a large benefactor of Tasha Tudor’s life. Even if you do not sell children’s literature, Tasha gave reason for many to frequent bookstores who may have not entered without the Tudor appeal.
Richard Mori operates Mori Books / Just Read Books out of Milford, NH and can be contacted at http://www.moribooks.com.
Richard is also quoted in a 6/20/2008 Concord Monitor article on Tasha Tudor, which is the local newspaper closest to her Webster, NH home.