Ms. Kahl wrote or contributed to 16 books starting in the early 1950s. The Duchess Bakes a Cake was perhaps her best-known book, done in verse and featuring an ever-increasing series of small disasters by the title character. The book received the New York Herald Tribune’s Spring Book Festival Award and, in 2000, Better Homes and Gardens magazine listed the book among its “undiscovered classics” for children.
Virginia Caroline Kahl was born Feb. 18, 1919, in Milwaukee, where her father worked in a print shop. She was an art graduate of what is now Lawrence University in Appleton, WI, and received a master’s degree in library science from the University of Wisconsin.
In 1948, she became a librarian with the Army special services section and was posted in Berlin and Salzburg, Austria. She returned to Wisconsin in the mid-1950s, doing library work throughout the state until settling in the Washington DC area in 1968.
In the 1970s, she was a teacher with a George Washington University continuing education program for women and a branch librarian in Alexandria.
She retired in 1993 as coordinator of public services for the Alexandria Library system. She was the liaison between the juvenile librarians and the library administration and also administered the volunteer program. She died November 4, 2004 and lived to see her favorite book, The Duchess Bakes a Cake, republished in 2002.
“Little children should enjoy their books. As long as possible, let them live in a world where characters are basically good, incidents are funny or exciting, and the story ultimately satisfying. I hope that the children who read my books have put them down with sighs of contentment, knowing that their expectations of cheerful uncomplicated tales with happy endings have been vindicated.”