JoAnn Stover, 78; authored children's book on manners

By Erich Schwartzel
Globe Correspondent / February 27, 2009
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JoAnn Stover's most popular book, "If Everybody Did," whipped toddlers into proper etiquette shape by illustrating the consequences of bad habits.

Ms. Stover's whimsical takes on good manners resonated with young readers. She was still receiving fan mail.

She died Feb. 17 of breast cancer at Hyder Family Hospice House in Dover, N.H., 15 years after the initial diagnosis. The Hampton, N.H., resident was 78.

Ms. Stover settled in Hampton after living in several towns in New Hampshire and Maine, said her daughter, Lauren Pollaro of York, Maine.

"She was a bit nomadic," Pollaro said. "My address book is one scribble after another."

Born in Peterborough, N.H., Ms. Stover moved to Boston to take classes at the New England School of Art and Massachusetts College of Art. She also had additional training at the Art Students League in New York.

Ms. Stover settled in Brooklyn, N.Y., after marrying Paul Pollaro, a fellow artist, in 1958. Ms. Stover was drawing portraits in the park when her future husband walked by, Lauren Pollaro said.

They raised two children, Lauren and Paul C., in Brooklyn while Ms. Stover wrote and illustrated more than 10 children's books through the 1960s and 1970s. Other titles included "The Binnies and the Dogs and Cats from Everywhere" and "Why, Because."

Ms. Stover filled her house with creativity. When one of her children grew bored, she brought out the art supplies.

Pollaro remembers heading across the river for a "big city day" in Manhattan when her mother had to meet with editors, some of whom worked for Alfred A. Knopf Inc., a leading publishing house.

"Her books had a lot of humor," despite her subdued demeanor, Pollaro said.

"Her books were incredibly silly, though. It's like they came from a different place," she said.

Two books have received renewed attention. "If Everybody Did" and "They Didn't Use Their Heads" have seen a publishing resurgence since Bob Jones University Press bought the rights in 1989. By then, Ms. Stover had settled down along the New Hampshire Seacoast. From her home, she taught private lessons in portraiture, landscape painting, and creative writing.

"She lived an extremely simple life. At one point, that drove me crazy - I wanted her to eat out, to enjoy life - but she didn't need much at all," Pollaro said. "She only needed her creativity."

Those childhood afternoons with the art supplies have paid off. Pollaro makes jewelry and wall sculptures, and her brother is a mixed-media artist.

Ms. Stover's marriage ended in divorce. In addition to her daughter and son, Ms. Stover leaves four grandchildren.

A memorial is being planned for the spring.

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