Charlotte Zolotow the famed literary icon died on Tuesday in her Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, home. She was known for her spunky independence as shown from the following quote, “I am really writing for myself.” The 98-year-old writer and editor established herself as a literary innovator where she championed difficult issues previously not presented to youth.
Her popular 1972 work titled William’s Doll exposed children to gender mores where the young boy in the story actively desires a doll, much to the dismay of his father. HarperCollins Publishers describes the book as: “More than anything, William wants a doll. “Don’t be a creep,” says his brother. “Sissy, sissy,” chants the boy next door. Then one day someone really understands William’s wish, and makes it easy for others to understand, too.”
The popular book was even made into a song for the album titled Free to Be…You and Me.
— Junior Library Guild (@JrLibraryGuild) November 19, 2013
As an editor, Zolotow worked for Harper & Row, which is now HarperCollins Publishers. During her employment with the powerhouse company, Zolotow published Dance On My Grave by Aidan Chambers, which was the first young adult novel to reference homosexuality.
— Lisa Brown (@lisabrowndraws) November 20, 2013
The loss of one of my heroes, 98-yr-old kid's writer/editor Charlotte Zolotow. Born a Shapiro; I claimed her as family even if far removed.
— Laurie Gwen Shapiro (@LaurieStories) November 19, 2013
Zolotow released many additional beloved children’s stories including: Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present, My Grandson Lew, The Park Book, and Do You Know What I’ll Do? to name a few.
The established writer points to her own difficulties as a youth where she moved in-and-out of school frequently and felt distanced due to her own sickness (scoliosis) that caused her to wear a back brace. Her own tribulations with meandering through childhood and feeling the isolation innate in the age group helped influence the sympathetic tone of her work where she sought to guide children through difficult experiences by showing a unique level of understanding.