Charlotte Zolotow Highly Commended

Apple Pie 4th of July

December 6, 2017
Subheader: 

Chinese-Americans are Americans, too.

What does this mean? Is it just pointing out that Americans don't get takeout for lunch on July 4th? What does the normal customer flow at the restaurant look like? I have no frame of reference here. Is the girl wrong? Right?

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Message: 

Parents understand more than you think. Or, Americans like Chinese food every day.

Henry's First-Moon Birthday

December 2, 2017
Subheader: 

And I thought only six weeks of maternity leave was bad.

It's okay. It's not bad, but it's not the best book ever. If you're trying to aggressively multicultural-ize your young child, this might help. It's certainly not offensive. The characters perform tasks that are pretty much broken down by traditional gender roles, though (father fixing car, mother cleaning, grandmother cooking, etc.).

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Message: 

Chinese people celebrate first-month birthdays in this way.

Mabela the Clever

November 28, 2017
Subheader: 

Clever girl.

It's a good example of a story where cleverness wins the day versus cleverness rather than versus fools. She's not particularly clever, though, she's just observant and surrounded by oblivious mice.

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Message: 

Pay attention to what's going on around you so that dangerous things don't happen to you.

The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen

November 22, 2017
Subheader: 

Published in 2014, the heyday of hula hooping.

She says that her neighbor is like a grandma to her, and took care of her mother when her mother was little, and then took care of her when she was little, and all this girl does is hula hoop. How did her neighbor not know that she hula hoops? And how did her neighbor not tell her that she also hula hooped as a kid? And now I have semantic satiation with the phrase "hula hoop" which is like the goofiest phrase in the world.

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Message: 

Own up to your mistakes and everything will turn out okay in a deus ex machina kind of way.

The Hello, Goodbye Window

October 3, 2017
Subheader: 

I don't know why you say goodbye window, I say hello window.

There's no real story, just a series of events that happen when she visits her grandparents. It's kind of boring. I'm really not sure how something this banal came from the same author as The Phantom Tollbooth and The Dot and the Line, both fascinatingly weird stories.

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Message: 

It's fun to hang out with your grandparents.

Don't Worry Bear

March 3, 2017
Subheader: 

Come on, bear. Google it. Caterpillars and moths.

It's using a very roundabout way to teach children that caterpillars turn into moths. It's cute that the bear keeps coming by to keep him company, but the caterpillar doesn't really seem to care, need company, or be thankful. It's kind of minimalist, but it could do with a little more character development, otherwise I don't really care about these characters.

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Message: 

Caterpillars turn into moths.

Baby Danced the Polka

March 5, 2017
Subheader: 

This baby is better-coordinated than I am.

It's cute how the parents eventually accept that the baby doesn't want to go to sleep and decide to enjoy the time together. As a book, though, it's pretty repetitive and would get old quickly. But it is short, so it's got that going for it.

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Message: 

None.

Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature

January 18, 2017
Subheader: 

I don't want to walk around in circles walk around in circles walk around in...

It's kind of unusual to be fascinated by spirals, or any shape for that matter. Spirals don't really do anything by themselves, as it's more what is spiraling and why that is the important thing. But getting kids to recognize the pattern of their existence is the first step.

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Message: 

Spirals are awesome.

Edgar's Second Word

December 28, 2016
Subheader: 

Come on, baby! Get with the program!

I can really identify with this. As the mother of two little boys, one of whom is not yet talking, and the other of whom doesn't use complete sentences, I'm still waiting for some of this. For conversations. For him to ask, "Why?" It's happening. It's happening slowly. And every step along the way is precious, but still frustrating occasionally.

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Message: 

Be patient with babies. It'll pay off.

The Cow That Laid an Egg

December 25, 2016
Subheader: 

I found it. It must have come out of my insides.

It's not bad, it's just weird. It's totally unrealistic, and this kind of thing would never happen, so it's certainly not a bad message. But the message more or less boils down to, "Pretend that other people are special even though you know they're really not."

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Message: 

Accept others for who they are. Or, patronize people so they don't feel ordinary.

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