Charlotte Zolotow, 1915-2013

Guest Blogger  //  Nov 20, 2013

Charlotte Zolotow, 1915-2013

David Allender from Scholastic Reading Club shares the following about the passing of children's book author Charlotte Zolotow. Zolotow was 98 and died yesterday at her home in New York. She was the author of more than 70 books.

When I first began working on the same floor as Charlotte Zolotow in the late ‘80s, I didn’t know how lucky I was. At that time, the picture books I loved were Maurice Sendak’s dark psychological fantasies and William Steig’s emotionally rich adventures. Charlotte’s work was on a different planet.  She created books of lyrical realism—a tradition that she practically single-handedly invented but it wasn’t for me.

But then I saw the connection between her work and all great work for children: she could make you see the world with entirely fresh eyes. I learned this by hallway conversations, by the manuscripts she pressed on me to read.  As a writer and editor, Charlotte sought to capture moments of wonder and understanding that a child could have right in his or her own backyard. And in those moments, the world is suddenly transformed into something far more wondrous—all through the power of words.

Charlotte is celebrated for her realism. But I feel it’s more than that. There’s magic in her work as fantastic as wild things or donkeys turning into pebbles. She broadened my own understanding of what a children’s book can be and for that I feel very fortunate and very, very grateful.

Her work has touched and changed lives—including my own. Please drop everything and go read Mr Rabbit and the Lovely Present or William’s Doll or any of her other books right now. Charlotte saw the world in a grain of sand and she’ll share that wonder with you.