I was just going over a manuscript for the last time—it needed to go to my publisher’s copy editor—when I realized I was in a position I have been in (happily) many times. To whom, if anyone, should I dedicate the book?
This is, of course, only something the writer of a book can do, and it has always been a pleasure. Considering the number of books I have published, there are a lot of dedications. It once occurred to me that I could write a book, call it Dedications. It would be all about the people to whom I’ve dedicated books, explaining why they are cited, and their importance to me. It would constitute a memoir, of sorts.
There are the famous ones, as in Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby, “Once again to Zelda.”
Or Robert Parker who dedicated all of his many books to his (same) wife.
Or here from The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry:
“To Leon Werth. I ask children to forgive me for dedicating this book to a grown-up. I have a serious excuse: this grown-up is the best friend I have in the world. I have another excuse: this grown-up can understand everything, even books for children. I have a third excuse: he lives in France where he is hungry and cold. He needs to be comforted. If all these excuses are not enough, then I want to dedicate this book to the child whom this grown-up once was. All grown-ups were children first. (But few of them remember it.) So I correct my dedication: To Leon Werth when he was a little boy.”
One chooses a dedicatee for many reasons: Love, friendship, a way of showing appreciation, admiration. One of my books has no dedication, because the person wanted their name to be a secret. I’ve dedicated books to folks who never say a word. To a trio of publishing friends. To my dog. One person, a dedicatee said, “It’s about time.” Most often, heartfelt thanks. Indeed, I’ve even read advice on how to receive a dedication: “Say thank you before you read the book.” But when this year’s Caldecott winner, Brian Floca’s Locomotive, was dedicated to me, I thanked him first, read the book, and thanked him even more.
This post is dedicated to my blog readers. With love.
5 thoughts on “A gift only an author can give”
Thank you! I like to pretend Charlote Doyle is dedicated to me.
And we love you! My favorite part of books is the dedication…I always try to figure out “why” if the author doesn’t elaborate…but I love them most when the author tells why! My students LOVE writing the dedication for the books they “publish” and they always save it for last! It is indeed a great gift!
I can hardly wait to read “my” book. Thank you!
Thanks, Avi. Another enlightening post — I especially loved the inclusion of the dedication from THE LITTLE PRINCE. For some reason, today it resonated. Maybe because I love thinking there’s still a “little girl” in me as a reader. No wonder the big (and little) girl in me loves your books! [I think you should write that memoir through dedication book — I’d read it!]
Oh my first, perhaps only, dedication! I’m honored. I have a very few blogs that I read and I always read yours first — so I take this very personally. Thank you Avi for sharing your words, wisdom and now your dedication page with us!