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Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Presentby Charlotte Zolotow
Synopses & Reviews
An interview with Charlotte Zolotow...
Q: Now has being an editor, publisher, and educator in the world of children's literature affected how you do as an author?
A: Being both a writer and editor affects different expressions of the same personality. Writers must shut out everyone else while they write. They must forget outside suggestions, or the temptation to follow suggestions separate from their own visions.
Editors must resist the desire to insert their own idea of how and where the story goes. They must resist the temptation to offer their own words as a solution when something is weak; instead they should alert the writer to this weakness, so that if the writer agrees, she may solve the problem in her own words and way.
Q: What have you relished most about each role?
A: I love the editor's recognition of a problem to be solved, for the story's sake, and the delight a writer herself takes in finding her own solution to any possible failure in the manuscript. The love of the final book stems in each case from wanting complete fulfillment of the work in question.
Q: You have written over seventy books for young audiences. Where do your ideas continue to come from?
A: To ask where I get ideas, no matter how many books I've written, is like asking where I get the air I breathe. Every day, both ordinary and unusual things and relationships shift and change through the writer's point of view.
Q: Your career has seen many changes in the children's book industry. What do you think about it now in the early stages of this new millennium?
A: Changes in the book industry may change the media through which books reach our children, but radio, computer, TV, or anyfuture technology will never replace the personal experience of reading a book. It is a private experience between writer and reader, which cannot be replaced.
Mr. Rabbit helps a little girl find a lovely present for her mother, who is especially fond of red, yellow, green, and blue.
About the Author
Charlotte Zolotow is a revered name in children's literature. She is a prolific, much-honored author with over seventy titles published, including the classic Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present,illustrated by Maurice Sendak, and the groundbreaking William's Doll, illustrated by William PÉne du Bois.
In addition, she has been a distinguished editor and publisher (she is now a HarperCollins Publisher Emerita), and by extension, an innovative educator. Her editorial career began under the brilliant Ursula Nordstrom, publisher of Harper Children's Books. The two shared a passionate belief: that children's books should be honest and faithful to the sometimes difficult but always intensely felt experiences of childhood. They were certain that children were capable of understanding the best work gifted artists and writers could give them.
Charlotte Zolotow was born in 1915 in Norfolk, Virginia, but grew up in several cities, including Detroit, New York, and Boston. She attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and shortly afterward returned to New York, where in 1938 she began working at HarperCollins, then Harper &Brothers.
She started as a secretary, but moved into an editorial career, working with Ursula Nordstrom. Their shared beliefs and the excitement of working with fine writers and artists brought to Harper generations of extraordinary authors and illustrators and gave Harper Children's Books their fresh, innovative quality. Talent was nurtured; books of lasting value were created, many still loved and read decades after they were first published. As Jean Mercier wrote in Publishers Weekly, Charlotte Zolotow would be among the Who's Who of any age, not only as the author of books of her own, but as a force majeure behind many children's books on the distinctive list of Harper.
Charlotte Zolotow has received numerous awards and honors, including the Regina Medal (2002) presented by the Catholic Library Association, the University of Minnesota's Irwin Kerlan Award (1986), the University of Southern Mississippi's Silver Medallion (1990), the Christopher Award (1974), and the Harper Gold Medal for Outstanding Editorial Achievement (1974). Of ongoing significance is the award established in 1998 in her name by the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The Charlotte Zolotow Award, presented annually by the University's Cooperative Center for Children's Books, is given annually to the author of the best picture book text published in the United States in the preceding year.
The 1991 resolution of gratitude given to Charlotte Zolotow by the American Library Association calls her contribution to children's literature far reaching. That reach extends far indeed. It begins with the many books she has written carry her vision into the hearts of children past, present, and future.
She has written more than seventy books for young children, many of which — have become picture-book classics.
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