Charlotte Zolotow has written over 70 books for young audiences. I'm not familiar with a lot of her work, but here are 2 books of hers, both illustrated by Stefano Vitale, that are just fantastic:
Sleepy Book by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by Stefano Vitale is a quiet, softspoken book. Each page tells how different animals sleep ("the snowy crane sleeps standing on one long leg like a flower on its stem"). We read about animals such as horses, moths, caterpillars. The last page is about how boys and girls sleep in their beds. The text is quiet, soft and well...sleepy.
What really grabbed me about this book are the wonderful illustrations by Stefano Vitale. He paints on wood, and the natural grain of the wood really adds a lot of character to the paintings. His use of color is extraordinary. The woodsy browns and greens of the forest (and I love the sly fox peeking around), the gorgeous purples on the snowy crane page and, what has to be my favorite page, the kittens in their basket with the light of the fireplace blanketing them. Each illustration perfectly matches the tone of the text and are so beautiful that I want to rip them all out, frame them & hang them up. But I can't stand the thought of this book sustaining any injury whatsoever, so I've even hidden it from the kids - and it's technically for them!
Zolotow and Vitale have a couple more collaborations, but I have only read Sleepy Book and the excellent When the Wind Stops. It was actually first published in 1962 (Sleepy Book was first published in 1958), so someone out there in the publishing world had a very good idea to reprint these stories, teamed up with the illustrations from Vitale.
When the Wind Stops is actually very similar to Sleepy Book: they are both quiet stories about bedtime, for bedtime. Here, a little boy has had a fun day playing, and now he is getting ready for bed. He and his mother have a discussion about how the end of our day is the beginning of the day somewhere else. When the wind stops blowing here, it is blowing somewhere else. When it stops raining, the water goes back into the clouds to make rain somewhere else. Nothing really ends: "it begins in another place or in a different way."
What a wonderful message for children, and a very comforting one too.
Again, Vitale's illustrations are superb. The page that shows the the sharks and fish is amazing - everything is slightly askew, just it might be if you saw it underwater with the waves chopping around. I also love the autumn/winter tree; again, here is that warm, golden light that he is so adept at portraying. In this book, it seems that he chooses wood with less pronounced grain for some of the pictures, while in others the grain is very noticeable. He is a master of the technique, for certain.
These are wonderful books. I enjoy them & the Bachsters enjoy them. If you read them, please let me know if you enjoyed them, too. I think you will!