Obituary: Polly Curren Fedosiuk; wrote children’s books

December 16, 2011
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(Courtesy Photo) Polly Curren Fedosiuk (right) with nephew John Orthman.

Polly Curren Fedosiuk, a lifelong Jamaica Plain resident and author of nearly 30 children’s books, including “The Little Red Caboose That Ran Away,” died Nov. 7 at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She was 94.

She was born on Oct. 2, 1917. Her father, Frank Curren, an engineer and musician, was born in Delaware, but came to Boston with his parents as a young man and settled in Forest Hills. Her mother, Mary (Dolan) Curren, was a Jamaica Plain native, and all four of her grandparents were longtime Jamaica Plain and Roslindale residents.

Following her graduation from Jamaica Plain High in 1934, she attended (along with her older sister Josette) the Russell School of Expression and Literature in the Back Bay. Following graduation, she and Josette opened the School of Expression for Children, based at their parents’ house on Hyde Park Avenue, and during the late 1930s, an entire now-elderly generation of Jamaica Plain and Roslindale children learned artistic expression and performance.

In September 1941, she married George S. Fedosiuk, an engineer, surveyor and merchant mariner from South Boston.

After World War II (and the birth of a son, Donald), Polly hoped to resume her career working with children. But in the late 1940s, her hearing began to deteriorate, and the hearing loss progressed to full deafness within a few years. Though she quickly mastered lip-reading, her new disability made communicating with children very difficult. She’d always delighted in telling stories, though, and quickly realized she might be able to reach children as a writer. Within a short time she was publishing short stories in some of the leading children’s magazines of the day, including “Highlights for Children.”

In 1950, Golden Books published her first book, “The Little Red Caboose That Ran Away.” It remained in print for over 30 years.

Always interested in history, she wrote a number of books with historical subjects and themes. The nonfiction “Hear Ye of Boston” (1964) was one of her favorite works; a carefully researched history of Boston in picture-book format, it also incorporated her own knowledge and love of her native city. She also wrote “To Light A Torch” (1966), a children’s biography of John F. Kennedy.

She also wrote a number of books under different names, including several titles in the Trixie Belden (as Kathryn Kenney) and Meg (as Holly Beth Walker) girls’ mystery series. In the 1970s, she wrote several Raggedy Ann and Andy books.

Her children’s novels included “The Fantastic Adventures of Wesley Riggs” (1961), featuring a proto-Harry Potter boy wizard often unaware of his own powers.

The University of Southern Mississippi now holds many of her manuscripts, drafts and letters.

She had many friends among the children’s librarians at the Jamaica Plain, Roslindale and Hyde Park branches as well as at the Boston Public Library main branch in Copley Square.

Her good spirits and optimism never failed her. She enjoyed her unsought and unanticipated status as family matriarch and often regaled her 15 nieces and nephews with anecdotes and stories as often drawn from the previous day’s news as from memories of 80 and more years ago.