Charlotte Zolotow was born Charlotte Gertrude Shapiro on this date in 1915 in Norfolk, Virginia. Because her books have been so beautifully meaningful to me and so treasured by my children, I included ten of her more than seventy books in my preschool read aloud curriculum, Picture Book Preschool. (Only two other authors, Peter Spier and Gail Gibbons, have that many books on the Picture Book Preschool reading list.)
Big Sister and Little Sister. I love this story of how a little sister hides from her slightly overbearing big sister, but repents when she hears Big Sister crying. It’s the classic sister story.
I Like To Be Little. Originally titled I Want to Be Little, a child rejoices in the things she can do and enjoy because she’s still small.
Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present. This book won a Caldecott Honor for Maurice Sendak’s watercolor illustrations, but I love it for the story. According to Ms. Zolotow, Mr. Rabbit is inspired by Harvey, the six foot tall friend of Elwood P. Dowd. But Mr. Rabbit is so wonderfully helpful and at the same time a bit dense as he suggests the same sorts of impractical presents over and over.
Over and Over. A little girl experiences the year as a series of holidays and events and then learns that everything will happen over and over every year. “She remembered a snowman and a pumpkin, a Christmas tree and a birthday cake, a Thanksgiving dinner, and valentines. But they were all mixed up in her mind.”
Sleepy Book. The perfect bedtime story about how pigeons and bears and kittens and fish and finally children go to sleep, the children “warm under their blankets in their beds.”
Something Is Going to Happen. Unfortunately out of print, this book describes how a family wakes up with the feeling that “something is going to happen,” and they discover that it has snowed in the night.
The Storm Book. In this one, Ms. Zolotow writes about an impending summer storm instead of a snowfall, but the sense that something exciting is going to happen is palpable in this book as the children play outside and then watch the storm come and go.
Summer Is. A seasonal concept book that takes the reader through all four seasons with a poetic text full of tangible, memorable seasonal details. Also out of print, darn it.
The Summer Night. Here’s a beautiful story about how this book comforted a little boy on a hot summer night a few years ago.
William’s Doll. Here’s the story of how Willliam’s Doll came to be, and although it was somewhat controversial back in the 1970′s when it was published, William’s Doll has become a beloved picture book portrayal of how all children need to learn to nurture as well as build and throw a ball. In talking about WIlliam’s Doll, Ms. Zolotow says that she’s a feminist, but that the book wasn’t written to bolster feminist ideology. Well, I’m not a feminist, but I think William’s Doll is a fine story for boys and girls who want to play with the toys that give them joy whether they’re “boy toys” or “girl toys”.
Now it’s your turn. Please leave a link to your post celebrating Charlotte Zolotow’s birthday, her work, her influence as an editor, or anything else Zolotow-related. Ms. Zolotow’s daughter, author Crescent Dragonwagon has promised to stop by and read the posts to Ms. Zolotow who is vision-impaired, but still living in her home.
Crescent Dragonwagon: me & my semi-famous aging mother: navigating love with fierce persistence
The next Semicolon Author Celebration will be July 10th, a celebration of the life and work of John Calvin, an author of a very different stripe from Charlotte Zolotow. However, if you’re a fan of Mr. Calvin, a Calvinist, or a semi-Calvinist, think about writing something to link on that date.