Picture book author and editor extraordinaire Charlotte Zolotow died yesterday at the age of 98. The children’s literature world is mourning her death but celebrating, as well, her enormous contributions to the field.
Here on Calling Caldecott our focus is a narrow and intense one: we devote our time and energy to looking at this year’s — and only this year’s — picture books. But on the occasion of Charlotte Zolotow’s death, it’s worth taking a perspective-gaining step back and thinking about the larger picture. The Horn Book Magazine was lucky enough to have published a 1998 essay that truly gets at the power and purpose of picture books. (You can also find her essay reprinted in A Family of Readers [Candlewick].) As a writer, she’s mostly talking about picture book texts, but her insight into what happens in good picture books — and where they come from — applies across the board, to both art and text. I find her words more inspiring, and more true, every time I read them. Thank you, Charlotte Zolotow.