Jean Marzollo, award-winning author of the I Spy book series and more than 150 books for children, died April 10, the Putnam County News & Recorder reported. She was 75. A "born teacher," Marzollo's "tremendous sensitivity to children and crackerjack ability with words led the National Commission on Resources for Youth to name her their director of publications in 1970."
About the same time, she and several friends launched an educational company to write materials for, and about, children. In 1972, her first book for parents, Learning Through Play, was published and she became editor of Scholastic's Let's Find Out monthly school magazine for kindergartners. Her first children's book, Close Your Eyes (illustrated by Susan Jeffers) was published in 1978, and dozens of other titles followed.
Marzollo is best known for her I Spy series, featuring the photographs of illustrator Walter Wick. Scholastic published the first I Spy book in 1992, and seven more followed until I Spy Treasure Hunt (1999). After the success of the I Spy books, Marzollo began illustrating her own books.
"I love all aspects of creating books for kids: writing, editing, working with illustrators or illustrating myself," she said. "I was always interested in testing my work with children ages 4-8 in classrooms to see if they 'get it.' If they don't, I fix it. Children are great editors. They teach me what works best for them and what doesn't."