Eige, (Elizabeth) Lillian 1915-

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EIGE, (Elizabeth) Lillian 1915-

PERSONAL: Surname is pronounced "Eye-g"; born July 22, 1915, in Marshalltown, IA; daughter of Francis Joseph (a tailor) and Lillian (a homemaker; maiden name, McNary) Tuffree; married Gaylerd S. Eige (an engineer), October 17, 1937; children: Jonathan, Julia Eige Rula. Education: University of Iowa, correspondence courses, 1964-66; attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop, 1966-67. Politics: Independent. Religion: Methodist. Hobbies and other interests: "Theater, traveling, music, and of course, reading."

ADDRESSES: Home—401 Foote St. SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404.

CAREER: Iowa Training School for Boys, Eldora, IA, secretary, 1933-34; Northwestern Bell, Marshalltown, IA, office worker, 1935-37; writer, 1970—. United Fund Drive, chairperson, 1969; UNICEF home drive, co-chairperson, 1973; Campfire Girls, board member, 1956-58; United Nations board, member, 1960-80.

MEMBER: National League of American PEN Women.

AWARDS, HONORS: Cady was included on the New York Public Library's 1987 list of "100 Books for Giving and Sharing" and received a Junior Literary Guild citation; Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Book, Mystery Writers of America, for Dangling.


The Kidnapping of Mister Huey (young adult novel), Harper (New York, NY), 1983.

Cady (young adult novel), illustrated by Janet Wentworth, Harper (New York, NY), 1987.

Dangling (young adult novel), Atheneum Books (New York, NY), 2001.

Contributor to periodicals, including Jack and Jill.

ADAPTATIONS: Cady was recorded by the Library of Congress National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in 1988.

SIDELIGHTS: Lillian Eige is an author of young adult novels whose characters are often those who are rejected by others or exist on the fringes of society. For example, in her first novel, The Kidnapping of Mister Huey, she writes of a friendship between a teenage boy named Willy and the old man of the title. When his family plans to put Mr. Huey in an old folks' home, Willy decides it would be better for his friend to go back to the town of his childhood, so he takes the unconventional approach of "kidnapping" him. In Cady, the twelve-year-old of the title is abandoned by his father after his mother dies. Consequently, Cady finds himself being shuffled from house to house, finally ending up at the home of a woman named Thea McVey. To Cady, Thea seems rather mysterious because she refuses to tell him much about herself; nevertheless, after some time he begins to trust her. Along with the puzzle of Thea's identity, Eige throws in another mystery concerning an unidentified man appearing in the nearby woods. Although criticizing the novel for "plot developments [that] seem contrived," "careless attention to descriptive details," and poorly handled suspense, School Library Journal reviewer Allen Meyer found that the characters' problems "provoke sympathy" in the reader.

A Publishers Weekly contributor complained of "awkward shifts between present and past tense." However, the themes of the story are important ones, according to Shaun Johnson in a Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy review. Dangling is about two boys who form an unlikely friendship that helps them both to grow. Ring, like Cady, is without parents and has been shuttled from one foster home to the next; Ben is considered the "runt" of his small Midwestern town, and he is also different from other boys in that he is being raised by two women. Sharing a bond in that they both feel like outcasts, Ben and Ring become very close. The story opens, though, with Ring's sudden disappearance when he goes swimming in a river and no one sees him come out again. Eige then proceeds to tell the boys' story in flashbacks, coming back to the present to show Ben's continuing hopes that his friend is still alive. While Johnson found some issues with the narrative flow of the book, the critic asserted that "Dangling covers many issues related to alternative family groupings and adopted children," adding that "the book speaks to boys and young men alike, telling them it is all right to have intense feelings about a male friend."

Eige once commented: "During my early years until I reached high school I lived in Belmond, a typical, small Iowa town. For most of that time our home was in a flat above my father's shop. It meant the family was closely confined in work, play, and home. When you lived in a half block off Main Street, back of the hospital, across from the funeral home, and you could see the hotel from your front windows, you never lacked for excitement or entertainment. I learned, too, there were treasures to be found behind the stores in the alleys. I became a collector. I remember how rich I felt when I found a piece of foil and added it to the huge wad I already had. We lived near a Movie Palace (we didn't call it a theater), and I probably saw most of the movies that came to town. I haunted the library, too, that was only a half block down the street.

"But as in so many families there were good times and bad times. I was a Depression child, and like many we went from a happy, secure time to struggling for survival. That is when I grew up and learned to understand people's actions. And it was the time when we ate home-canned green beans and eggs until they came out our ears. I sometimes insist my characters eat green beans.

"I have been a dreamer, a pretender, and an actor all of my life. When I was a child I could entertain myself all afternoon by throwing myself about the room acting out everything from a sick child to being the most glamorous girl in the whole world. Most of us have to write from the child that we were, the child that we remember, and the child that we are. The part of us that refuses to grow up. We could not write for children otherwise. Some believe that children's books are for children only. That is not true. They are for everyone who hangs on to the magic and excitement of living.

"But sometimes writing for me has been like going to the grocery store for a dozen eggs and coming home with a sack of bananas. I usually start out with my characters and relationships, and I am not always sure what they are going to do. They surprise me. After years of raising children, dogs, orphan birds and rabbits, I decided to go back to school and to try to write. That is where I am today."



Gazette (Cedar Rapids, IA), April 24, 1983. Horn Book, September-October, 1987, Ann A. Flowers, review of Cady, p. 610.

Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, October, 2001, Shaun Johnson, review of Dangling, p. 171.

Junior Literary Guild, April, 1987; September, 1987.

Marshalltown Times Republican (Marshalltown, IA), October 21, 1983.

Publishers Weekly, May 27, 1983, review of TheKidnapping of Mister Huey, p. 67; May 8, 1987, Diane Roback, review of Cady, p. 71; January 15, 2001, review of Dangling, p. 76.

School Library Journal, May, 1983, review of TheKidnapping of Mister Huey, p. 81; May, 1987, Allen Meyer, review of Cady, p. 109; July, 2001, Faith Brautigan, review of Dangling, p. 106.*