The Dark, written by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Jon Klassen, is the winner of the seventeenth annual Charlotte Zolotow Award for outstanding writing in a picture book. The award is given by the Cooperative Children's Book Center, a library of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and will be presented in Madison this spring.
Lemony Snicket’s playfully serious picture book personifies one of the most common fears of childhood. Laszlo doesn’t like the dark, which lives in his basement during the day. “At night, of course, the dark went out and spread itself against the windows and doors …” One night, the dark, which has a voice “as creaky as the roof of the house, and as smooth and cold as the windows,” lures Laszlo out of his room. The narrative builds anxiety and anticipation as Laszlo hesitantly descends through the house. Then a wonderful cascade of language creates a sudden shift in pace, mood and perspective, inviting readers and listeners to consider the dark in new light—as a presence with purpose. Lemony Snicket never trivializes children’s fear of the dark. Instead he acknowledges that fear while elegantly traversing the tension it creates to arrive at a point of reassurance and humorous possibility, where the dark is both illuminated and illuminating. The Dark was edited by Susan Rich, editor-at-large, and published in the United States in 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
The 2014 Zolotow Award committee named five Honor Books: Building Our House, written and illustrated by Jonathan Bean, edited by Wes Adams, and published by Farrar Straus Giroux, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group; My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood, written by Tameka Fryer Brown, illustrated by Shane W. Evans, edited by Joanna Cardenas, and published by Viking, Penguin Young Readers Group; Sophie’s Squash, written by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf, edited by Anne Schwartz, and published by Schwartz & Wade, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House Penguin LLC; This Is the Rope, written by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by James Ransome, edited by Nancy Paulsen, and published by Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin Young Readers Group; and Year of the Jungle, written by Suzanne Collins, illustrated by James Proimos, edited by Kate Egan and Emily Seife and published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic.
The 2014 Zolotow Award committee also cited seven titles as Highly Commended: Big Snow written and illustrated by Jonathan Bean (Farrar Straus Giroux / Macmillan); Max and the Tag-Along Moon written and illustrated by Floyd Cooper (Philomel / Penguin Young Readers Group); My Blue Is Happy written by Jessica Young and illustrated by Catia Chien (Candlewick Press); Niño Wrestles the World written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales (A Neal Porter Book / Roaring Brook Press / Macmillan); The Silver Button written and illustrated by Bob Graham (U.S. edition: Candlewick Press); Stripes of All Types written and illustrated by Susan Stockdale (Peachtree); and When No One Is Watching written by Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by David A. Johnson (Eerdmans).
Ms. Zolotow attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison on a writing scholarship from 1933 to 1936, where she studied with Professor Helen C. White. Ms. Zolotow died in November, 2013, at the age of 98.
The award is given annually for outstanding writing in a picture book for children in the birth through seven age range published in the United States in the preceding year. Members of the 2014 Zolotow Award Committee were: Megan Schliesman, chair (Librarian, Cooperative Children’s Book Center, Madison, Wisconsin); Barb Huntington (Library Consultant, Retired, Madison, Wisconsin); Lynn Montague (Youth Services Librarian, Sun Prairie Public Library, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin); Duy Nguyen (Teacher, Emerson Elementary School, Madison, Wisconsin); and Kristine Klopp (Library Media Specialist, Boulder, Colorado).