Steve Jenkins, 69, dies; His children’s books brought science to life


In addition to his wife, Mr. Jenkins is survived by their children, Jamie, Alec and Page Jenkins; his mother and one brother, Jeffrey.

“His curiosity and passion for science and the natural world knew no bounds,” said Margaret Raymo, Mr. Jenkins’ longtime editor, says Publishers Weekly. Over the past 25 years, she and Mr. Jenkins have worked together on more than 50 books, first at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and then at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, where Ms. Raymo is editor-in-chief, and where Mr. Jenkins and Mrs. Page’s next two books will be published.

“He always had new ideas trickling in – the hardest part was deciding which one to work on next,” she said. “He wanted the kids to be interested in science.”

In a phone interview, Ms Raymo added, “I always learned something when we worked together.”

Credit…Harper Collins

Over the years, Mr. Jenkins found himself increasingly frustrated with society’s shift toward creationism and other dubious sciences. The idea that evolution should be considered a theory and not a scientific fact, or that it should not be taught at all, particularly troubled him.

A gentle, soft-spoken man whose conversational style often appeased others, he was stunned a decade ago when he gave a speech to a group of educators about the dangers of ignoring data. scientists or manipulate the facts for political or financial gain, and some in the audience came out.

“Understanding how science works means we know how to think about things critically,” he said that day, “that we can observe things as they actually appear, rather than as we are told they are, formulate new ideas about these things, and test them against what we already know.

“This kind of thinking,” he added, “is essential if we are to retain some sort of control over our lives and our culture.”


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