Streetlamp in the Snow, by Night
Remember last summer? Moths
danced whirling circles.
Now it is winter.
From inside we watch again.
Snowflakes are whirling.
Busy small white stars
making the cold dark earth white.
Inside, we are warm.
---- Charlotte Zolotow and Crescent Dragonwagon
How CZ and CD worked together on these
--- and why
Dragonwagon, Charlotte’s daughter, recently received an email from
Lin, a children's book author
who was organizing a fundraiser for cancer research. Called
Snow, for Cancer's Cure,
it began when over 150 children's book illustrators,
including Chris Van Allsburg, David Shannon, Peter Sis, and Marjorie Priceman, created original works of art on wooden snowflakes. These were
to be auctioned, with the proceeds going to the
Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts.
snowballed and Viking Press decided to publish a book of the snowflakes,
with haiku poems accompanying the illustrators’ snowflakes, and all
royalties going to the Farber Cancer Institute. Grace asked Crescent if
Charlotte would be interested in donating haikus for the book.
Charlotte doesn’t see and thus can’t write, Charlotte, though interested, asked Crescent if
they could somehow find a way to collaborate on the haikus. They did.
First, they talked about ideas together. They both remembered once, a
very long time ago, when Crescent was a little girl and very sick with
the chicken pox. Charlotte sat up with her late at night and the two of
them watched the snow fall together --- from the same window that is now
in Charlotte’s bedroom, where CZ spends most of her
time. Back then, when Charlotte was her mother and Crescent a sick
little girl, the two of them could see the snow falling and falling
outside, even though it was dark, because there was a streetlight in
front of the house next door.
Haiku, a traditional Japanese form of poetry three lines long, with 5
syllables in the first and last line and 7 in the middle, almost always
has something to do with nature. So do a lot of Charlotte’s
books. (Please see Charlotte’s
Books by Subject
to get a better idea of this).
Remembering this, and remembering that Charlotte almost always put
relationships at the center of every book, even the ones about the
natural world, Crescent came up with the three short poems which follow.
After she wrote them, she read them to Charlotte, who liked them very
much. Even though she is nearly blind, she could still see in her mind
and memory the snow falling and falling as she sat with her feverish
child long ago… the child who grew up to be Crescent, Charlotte’s
|If you are
curious about some of the books Charlotte has written that combine the
ideas of nature and the natural world with human relationships, you may
enjoy looking at the pages on these books:
The Summer Night
Sky Was Blue
the Wind Stops
Each page will
tell you something about the book that you can’t discover anywhere else.