Charlotte Zolotow, children's author, has died

This has been a hard week for children's literature. First, we said goodbye to Junie B. Jones creator, Barbara Park. Now, we learn that Charlotte Zolotow, died yesterday at home in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY.

Ms. Zolotow, a fearless champion of facing head-on the tough issues of childhood -- loneliness, anger, death -- began her illustrious career, as a powerful editor for children's literature at Harper and Brothers (now HarperCollins Publishers). On her rise through the ranks (she eventually became head of the publisher's children's division, a vice president, and associate publisher and, 22 years ago, she was named publisher emerita), she made the careers of M.E. Kerr, Robert Lipsyte, and Paul Zindel whose 1968 teen novel, The Pigman, a grim tale of the troubled friendship between two unloved high school students and a lonely old man. She also represented Patricia MacLachlan, author of the the children's classic, Sarah, Plain and Tall (19850, which not only won the 1986 Newbery Medal, but was also turned into the 1991 Hallmark Hall of Fame movie by the same name, starring Glenn Close and Christopher Walken.

Ms. Zolotow's work as an editor was a natural segue to her own writing career. She used her books to help children and their parents face emotional subjects. William's Doll (1972) tells the story of a little boy determined to play with dolls when his dad wants him to embrace basketballs and trains. Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present (1962), a 1963 Caldecott Honor book, teaches the abstract idea of the power of color. Maurice Sendak illustrated this perennial favorite.

Ms. Zolotow's titles have been illustrated by some of the giants of children's illustrators. Garth Williams, Tana Hoban, and H.A. Rey are just some of the artists paired with Ms. Zolotow's books.

The death of Ms. Zolotow, who was 98, was announced by her daughter, Crescent Dragonwagon, a well-known children's author in her own right.

Doris Lessing, groundbreaking novelist, has died

Doris Lessing, whose 1962 novel, The Golden Notebook, electrified young women with its forward-thinking themes, died yesterday in London.

Ms. Lessing was born in Iran in 1919 and raised in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) by a father grievously wounded in World War I and a cranky mother who chomped at the bit to escape her domestic responsibilities. Lessing attributed her mother's resentment as a key factor in shaping her own evolving discoveries of the untapped power of women at an early age. She dropped out of school at 14 and discovered writing.

Her first book, the 1950 release of The Grass Is Singing, was instantly controversial. Set in then-Rhodesia, it is the searing account of a bored white farmer's wife and her relationship with one of the farm's black slaves. Lessing's relentless examination of the endless layers of injustice that she saw everywhere was so ferocious that she was labeled a 'prohibited alien' by the governments of South Africa and Southern Rhodesia in 1956 for her inflammatory opinions.

In 1962, Lessing became one of the unwilling literary leaders of the nascent feminist movement, a label eschewed by her because she said the early feminists' embrace of all things political made them angry name-callers. The Golden Notebook tackled head-on the full menu of women's issues that to this day drive many social issues conversations. Marriage vs. freedom, motherhood vs. career, intellect vs. coy submissiveness, black vs. white. She herself lived of what she wrote, abandoning two husbands and two out of her three children when she fled to England.

Ms. Lessing also wrote two very popular series. The Children of Violence, which begins with Martha Quest (1952) and concludes seventeen years later with entry number five, The Four-Gated City (1969). During the span of this series, a teenage Martha Quest leaves her life on an African farm and flees to England, endures the horrors of World War II, and forges a new, more independent, if fraught life, in post-war London.

The second series is a five-entry science fiction work, Canopus in Argos: Archives (1979-1983).

Ms. Lessing was recipient of many awards. One of her most notable distinctions was to be named the oldest Nobel laureate for literature, receiving that honor in 2007 when she was 88 years old. She claimed it ruined her life because the demands on her time that accompanied such an honor, made it impossible for her to write.

Her last book, Alfred and Emily (2008) was a study of her parents' life, filled with speculation about what their lives would have been like if World War I had not happened.

Ms. Lessing was 94.

Barbara Park, creator of the beloved Junie B. Jones children's books, has died

Barbara Park, who combined her inner six-year-old self with a fantastic sense of humor to create the popular Junie B. Jones chapbooks, has died.

Ms. Park discovered her love of reading in high school and her writing gifts in the 70s when, as a military wife, she put to paper the antics of her young boys. Her first books were stand-alones that spoke to children about tough subjects with her uniquely child-oriented perspective, such as The Kid in the Red Jacket (1987) which covers the stress of moving and being the 'new kid' in school.

In 1992, Park found her popularity soar with the publication of the first of her 28 Junie B. Jones chapter books. First up, Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus. The eponymous five -year-old hates her first bus ride to school so much that she refuses to go home at the end of the day.

Through 16 more entries in the series, Junie B. Jones stayed in kindergarten. Finally, in 2001, Junie B. Jones graduates. In Junie B., First Grader (at Last!), Junie B. faces the twin traumas of losing her best friend to TWINS and of having to get her first pair of glasses.

The last Junie B. Jones title, #28, Junie B., First Grader: Turkeys We Have Loved and Eaten (and Other Thankful Stuff), was published last year.

Ms. Park had battled ovarian cancer for several years. She was co-founder and CEO of Sisters in Survival, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping women navigate the many challenges of a diagnosis of ovarian cancer.

Barbara Park, a longtime resident of Scottsdale, AZ, and winner of multiple children's literature awards, was 66 years old.

Veteran Ann Arbor News reporter Bill Treml dead at 88

Bill TremlBill Treml

Veteran Ann Arbor News police reporter, William Treml, who retired in 1996 after 40 years at the paper, died Friday at age 88. Over the course of his distinguished career, Bill Treml earned a reputation as one Ann Arbor's best reporters, sometimes arriving to a crime scene with pen, paper, and camera in hand - and at least once in his pajamas. Treml covered some of our city's historic events, including the 1970 John Norman Collins trial and the 1960s UFO sightings. In 2011, we spoke with Treml about his career at the News and he recalled his toughest assignments as well as shared his personal memories of the friends he made along the way.

Read some of Mr. Treml's articles currently available on Oldnews.

Chicago Chef Charlie Trotter has died

Charlie Trotter, well-known chef and author who put Chicago cuisine on the map, died yesterday at his home in Lincoln Park, IL.

Trotter, born and raised in the Chicago area, never strayed far from his roots. As a student at the University of Wisconsin, he accepted a roommate's challenge to prepare a multi-course meal, and was soon hooked on tossing the cookbooks and boldly experimenting.

At age 29, with the help of his wealthy father, Trottter opened his revolutionary restaurant, Charlie Trotter's. It was an instant success. Trotter was committed to the idea of buying local and in season, long before locavore was A Thing. All of a sudden, Chicago's ho-hum reputation with foodies was shot with the adrenaline of new possibilities. Many of the area's finest chefs trained under Trotter, not an easy task, as he was known not only for his food creativity, but for his outsized temper. (Look for Trotter in the kitchen scene in My Best Friend's Wedding (2001), starring Julia Roberts, in which he delivers the memorable line, "I will kill your whole family if you don't get this right.")

Author of several cookbooks, Charlie was also a presence on PBS with his show, The Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter, based on a book (1999) by the same name.

Last year, on its 25th anniversary, Trotter closed his most famous restaurant, announcing he wanted to travel with his beloved second wife, Rochelle. He had a history of strokes and lived with a brain aneurysm and felt he was on borrowed time.

In fact, Trotter had just returned from the very first Jackson Hole Culinary Conference in Wyoming where he was the keynote speaker, despite his doctor's warning not to fly with the time bomb in his head.

Trotter was just 54 years old.

G.Willow Wilson wins a 2013 World Fantasy Award

G.Willow Wilson wins a 2013 World Fantasy AwardG.Willow Wilson wins a 2013 World Fantasy Award

Seattle author G. Willow Wilson has won the 2013 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel for Alif the Unseen.

Born in New Jersey, Ms. Wilson began her writing career creating comic books and graphic novels. Introduced to the Koran as a student at Boston University, she moved to Egypt, converted to Islam, married, and penned her first publication, a graphic novel titled Cairo: A Graphic Novel, an imaginative literary tale of religion, politics, and social issues.

Alif the Unseen is Ms. Wilson's first novel. In its five-star review, Library Journal wrote, "...“Imaginative storytelling . . . Wilson skillfully weaves a story linking modern-day technologies and computer languages to the folklore and religion of the Middle East."

The World Fantasy Awards have been bestowed since 1975 and are one of the most prestigious acknowledgements of speculative fiction.

For a complete list of this year's WFA winners, check here.

"Don't Call Me Inspirational: A Disabled Feminist Talks Back"

Harilyn Rousso, author of "Don't Call Me Inspirational: A Disabled Feminist Talks Back," will read from her book Nov. 13 at 1 p.m. in Palmer Commons, Great Lakes Room South, at the University of Michigan. Her appearance is sponsored by a number of groups including Services for Students with Disabilities, Council for Disability Concerns, Women's Studies, Center for Education of Women, the LSA Disability Culture class, and Nicola's Books. Refreshments and Screenline CART services will be provided. Later the same day, the author will participate in a reading and panel discussion at 6:30 p.m. at the U-M School of Social Work. Refreshments and CART services will be provided. People planning to attend the later event should RSVP by emailing Carolyn Grawi at cgrawi@umich.edu.

"Don't Call Me Inspirational" is a collection of essays, poems, and personal memories by the author, who was born with cerebral palsy and now is a psychotherapist, disabilities activist and artist. Her book, published earlier this year, was widely and favorably reviewed. Rosemarie Garland-Thomson wrote in Ms. magazine that it is "less a memoir of endurance than a fine model for feminist development."

Lou Reed, the heart and soul of the influential 60s band, The Velvet Underground, has died

Lou Reed, 71, one of the founders of the 60s band, the Velvet Underground, died today.

Reed was a trailblazing songwriter back in the 60s, unafraid to tackle topics that, back then, were considered a bit risque. He was especially poetic in his lyrics about sex and the drug culture. Openly bisexual, Reed wrote of his harrowing experience as a young teenager who was given electro-
The Velvet Underground only lasted a few years, but its influence gained momentum as it became a cult band of enormous impact in rock history. Fueling its prominence was the role of mentor that Andy Warhol adopted with the group.

Rolling Stone magazine labelled The Velvet Underground and Nico (1966) as the 13th most influential album of alll time. In 2004, Joe Harvard wrote a history of the band, using that same title.

The most commercially successful songs performed by the Velvet Underground were Rock and Roll and Sweet Jane, both of which can be heard on The Best of the Velvet Underground: Words and Music by Lou Reed.

In 1972, Reed peaked with Lou Reed:Transformer, which was co-produced by David Bowie and Mike Ronson.

At the time of this posting, the cause of Mr. Reed's death is unknown. He did undergo a liver transplant in the spring of this year.

Marcia Wallace, a.k.a. the voice of The Simpsons' Edna Krabappel, has died

Marcia Wallace, actress in stage, screen, and TV, and most recently the voice of 4th grade teacher, Edna Krabappel, on The Simpsons, died October 25th.

Ms. Wallace's acting gifts were apparent in high school, after which she won a full-ride scholarship to the now-defunct Parsons College in Iowa. From there, she moved to New York, performing in night clubs, on Off-Broadway, and appearing dozens of times on The Merv Griffin Show.

In 1972, after Ms. Wallace had moved to California, TV producer, Grant Tinker created a role for her on the sitcom, The Bob Newhart Show. She played the sharp-tongued receptionist, Carol Kester.

In 1990, she began her most notable career as the voice of Edna Krabappel on The Simpsons, which won her an Emmy in 1992. She charmed audiences with that role until her recent bad health caused the producers to decide to 'retire' Ms. Krabappel forever.

In 2008, Ms. Wallace was in the movie, Tru Loved, in which she played a high school drama teacher who helps students start a Gay Straight Alliance Club.

In 2007, The Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, awarded Ms. Wallace their Gilda Radner Courage Award for her tireless efforts educating American men and women on the importance of early detection of breast cancer, which she herself successfully beat for more than twenty years.

Ms. Wallace, who died of complications from pneumonia, was a week shy of her 71st birthday.

Amazon Teen Bestseller: The Book Thief

The Kindle edition of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak currently is #5 on Amazon's Best Sellers in Teen & Young Adult Books. First published in 2007, the bestselling book was made into a movie that will be in theaters in November. In the novel, Death tells the story of Liesel, a German girl during World War II whose storytelling and book thefts help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding.

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