“One common gift”: a direct line to childhood

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.

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About Martha V. Parravano

Martha V. Parravano is executive editor of The Horn Book Magazine and coauthor, with Roger Sutton, of A Family of Readers (Candlewick). She is coauthor of the Horn Book’s Calling Caldecott blog and has served on the 2008 Newbery committee and chaired the 2013 Laura Ingalls Wilder committee.


  1. I love that 1998 essay. So vital for absolutely anyone who has anything to do with picture books to read.

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