Author, publisher, teacher, and mentor to many Canadian writers, Paul Kropp died on August 22 after a short battle with cancer.
Kropp’s first teaching job after university was at a vocational school in Hamilton, where he worked with students who were struggling to read. Noticing a lack of books that they could read or actually wanted to read, Kropp wrote Burn-Out in 1977, the first of his many novels for reluctant readers. He went on to write more than 70 books, including nine books for young adults, numerous books for reluctant readers, and five illustrated books for beginning readers. In addition to his children’s books, he also wrote books for adults, professional development resources for teachers, and, most recently, The Lost Botticelli, a mystery revolving around an art theft.
In 2002, he and Terry Durkin (1938–2012) founded High Interest Publishing (HIP Books), dedicated to providing books for struggling and reluctant readers. Kropp’s wife, educational consultant Lori Jamison, is HIP Books’s vice-president and educational director. The company offers six series, ranging from junior titles to fantasy to teen adventure, and many resources for teachers.
At his memorial service, Kropp was remembered as someone who liked to get things done where he saw a need, who didn’t always suffer fools, and who possessed both a sense of generosity and humour. It is entirely in keeping with his personality that the last line of his obituary in The Globe and Mail reads: “Those wishing to commemorate Paul’s life in some way are invited to make a donation to Metropolitan United Church or the Canadian Cancer Society and to vote NDP in the upcoming election.”