Obituary Note: Charlotte Pomerantz

American author and journalist Charlotte Pomerantz, "who brought an ingenious use of language and the occasional sly subversive touch to stories about mud-loving pigs and parachuting cats written for young children," died July 24, the New York Times reported. She was 92. Pomerantz wrote 35 children's books, some in prose, some in verse. Her "clever manipulation of words gave young readers a laugh and food for thought," as in this excerpt from Halfway to Your House, illustrated by Gabrielle Vincent (1993):

Annabelle peered
in the looking glass
and said,
"Am I not the prettiest lass?"
"Alas," said the glass,
"that isn't quite true:
The lass in the glass
is as pretty as you."

One of her most popular books was The Piggy in the Puddle, illustrated by James Marshall (1974), which has been used in countless library story times. Pomerantz's first children's book, The Bear Who Couldn't Sleep, was published in 1965. One of her books, Here Comes Henny, illustrated by Nancy Winslow Parker (1994), was inspired by a passage in James Joyce's Finnegans Wake.

Pomerantz was married to Carl Marzani, "who in the early days of cold-war witch hunting had gone to prison for not revealing a past Communist Party connection to government loyalty examiners," the Times wrote. Before she started writing children's books, she worked at a leftist publishing house he had helped found, where her projects included editing a book of essays, A Quarter-Century of Un-Americana, 1938-1963: A Tragico-Comical Memorabilia of HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee).

Her children's books sometimes had social or political causes woven into them, including The Day They Parachuted Cats on Borneo, illustrated by Jose Aruego (1971), and Mangaboom, illustrated by Anita Lobel (1997). She once said in an interview: "The political and feminist undercurrents are there because I'm the sum of all my experiences, and those are the things I experienced."

Julia L. Mickenberg, a professor of American studies at the University of Texas at Austin, included the story about the parachuting cats in Tales for Little Rebels: A Collection of Radical Children's Literature, a 2008 book she edited with Philip Nel.

"Charlotte definitely had a 'little rebel' streak in her," Mickenberg said, adding that she had been drawn to the story "for several different reasons. The first was that it is an environmentalist story, and we wanted more of those, but it is also an environmentalist story written as an extended poem with rhyme but also, and more importantly, with humor and creativity."

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