Sorche Nic Leodhas—who was really LeClaire Alger—was born on May 20, 1898, in Youngstown, Ohio. Her father and sister were both writers, and she read a great deal because she was often sick as a child. At age 17, Ms. Alger worked as a page at the Pittsburgh library. In 1926, she enrolled at the Carnegie Library School. She worked at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Library from 1929 to 1966.
She and her family collected Scottish tales, which she recorded in several collections such as Thistle and Thyme, illustrated by Evaline Ness (Holt, 1962), and Claymore and Kilt, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon (Holt, 1967). Ms. Alger received the 1964 Caldecott Medal for Always Room for One More (Holt), illustrated by Nonny Hogrogian. In 1966, All in the Morning Early, illustrated by Evaline Ness, was given a Caldecott Honor.
Janice M. Del Negro, editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, says of her: “Her storytelling style was lyrical and poetic; her elegant language lent itself to the romantic, the adventurous, the humorous, and the uncanny with equal dexterity. It is unlikely you will find these tales anywhere else except in her collections—she (and her family) deliberately sought out and collected those tales that had not yet been written down. She heard them at clan gatherings, family reunions, ceilidhs, and Gaelic club meetings, and she remembered them with a faultless ear and a musical tongue the likes of which we’d be hard-pressed to find even in today’s most well-retold folktales. Go look on your shelves, and with any luck at all you’ll happen upon one, two, three or all of her collections. Take them down and open them up, read them alone and read them aloud, and become another who knows why a storyteller like Sorche Nic Leodhas will never be forgotten.”