Monday, November 19, 2012

Over and Over

I just read an online article in the Horn Book which was very moving. It's a tribute of sorts to Charlotte Zolotow, the 97 year old children's book writer/editor by her daughter Crescent Dragonwagon. It focuses on Charlotte's Over and Over, in which a girl slowly learns the rhythm of time and the seasons. Crescent then compares her mother's slipping awareness of time to the girl's unfolding awareness of time. Throughout the book, the girl asks "What comes next?" and her mother provides answers. But in 2012, the tables have turned and Charlotte looks to Crescent for time references.

It's very well written and perceptive about time and aging. It brings up such questions as where do our spirits go as we age? Do we check out or just stop being so obsessed with the craziness around us; instead noticing the eternal and natural? Apparently Charlotte was a very type-A woman when she was younger: writing and editing up a storm. Now at 97 she has relaxed into her old age and enjoys small but profound things. It seems that as we age we go back to being our child selves, both physically and emotionally. Noticing the little things, our awareness shifts inward and that relentless struggle of adulthood lessens.

I hadn't read anything by Charlotte Zolotow prior to picking up Over and Over at a library sale. What caught my eye was the illustrations (guess I do judge a book by it's cover!). The illustrations were done by Garth Williams, one of my favorite illustrators. I love the softness and intimacy of his work. And the Halloween spot reminds me of my childhood.

Among the holidays there's a passage about Thanksgiving:
"What comes next?" she asked her mother the next day.
"Thanksgiving," her mother said. The little girl woke up one day to a delicious roasting smell and the fragrance of pies. That afternoon her grandmother and grandfather and uncles and aunts all came to her house for dinner and afterward they sat in front of the fire and cracked open walnuts and ate the soft sweet kernels.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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