Saturday, September 29, 2012

Caldecott Challenge 1961

1961 Medal Winner: 
Baboushka and the Three Kings
illustrated by Nicolas Sidjakov
written by Ruth Robbins 

What it's about: 
Baboushka tries to follow three kings who are following a star to the birthplace of the Child.

What I like:
The illustration style is very unique. It is simple and bold with lots of straight lines that create Mondrian like blocks of color on some pages. I also like the treatment of text on the pages. The text is larger, and instead of paragraphs, spaces are filled with a stylized asterisk.

Side note:
Baboushka and the Three Kings is a Christmas story that has many parallels to the Italian story of La Befana. The book says it is based on a Russian folktale, but it seems this tale was the creation of an American author, Edith Thomas, and not from any Russian tradition.

1961 Honor Book:

Inch by Inch 
by Leo Lionni

What it's about: 
To avoid being eaten by birds, a smart little inchworm shares its talent for measuring.

What I like: 
(Excuse me while I gush a bit) The illustrations and stories of Leo Lionni feel classic and modern at the same time. His use of line and white space on the pages is masterful. This simple collage style may not seem innovative today, but in looking at all of the Caldecott medal and honor book from 1938-1961, it is the first of it's kind - truly distinguished. The accompanying story is distilled to a minimal number of perfectly selected words. His bio in the back of the edition I read calls him "the master of the simple fable." Inch by Inch is a prime example why that title is so fitting.
I would have selected Inch by Inch for the medal in 1961 without hesitation.

Challenge total: 111

Another Caldecott Cat:
from Baboushka and the Three Kings 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Caldecott Challenge 1960

1960 Medal Winner: 
Nine Days to Christmas
illustrated by Marie Hall Ets
written by Marie Hall Ets and Aurora Labastida 

What it's about:
Young Cici is excited to have a special piƱata for her first posada.

What I like:
I really enjoyed Cici's excitement about getting to experience something she has been looking forward to for the first time. I love the pops of bright orange, yellow and pink on the pencil sketch style illustrations. Not only does it draw the eye to certain parts of the illustrations, but those particular colors highlight the traditional fabrics and clothing worn in the story.
I also really liked the magical feeling at the end of the story.

1961 Honor Books:

Houses from the Sea
illustrated by Adrienne Adams
written by Alice E. Goudey

What it's about:
Information about different types of shells is communicated through the story of a shell collecting beach visit.

What I like:
This is an accessible book for young students looking for introductory information about shells. I love the detailed drawings of shells with washed out colors echoing the feeling of being washed up on a beach. The feeling of the story and the illustrations reminded me a lot of the novel Junonia by Kevin Henkes.

The Moon Jumpers 
illustrated by Maurice Sendak
written by Janice May Udry
we're not children, we're the Moon Jumpers!

What it's about:
It's a warm summer night, and four children play outside their house in the moonlight.

What I like:
Pages alternate between lush, color double page spreads and pages with smaller black and white illustrations. Had I been on the committee, this would have been my pick for the winner.
I love the little boy who reminds me of a future Max, and how the children use their imaginations to enjoy the night.
My favorite line: "we climb a tree just to be in a tree at night"

Challenge Total: 109

More Cats of Caldecott:

top left: Nine Days to Christmas,
top right & bottom left:
Moon Jumpers,
bottom right:
Houses from the Sea

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Caldecott Challenge 1959

1959 Medal Winner:

Chanticleer and the Fox 
by Barbara Cooney 
text adapted from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales

What it's about:
The beautiful and renowned crower, Chanticleer, is tricked by a fox and saves himself from being eaten by tricking Him back

What I like:
If you happen to be teaching about Chaucer to young ones, this book is a must.
Chanticleer is a trickster tale with two clear morals (don't blindly accept flattery, and learn to "hold your tongue").

When I read this aloud to the Bud (my 6 yr old), he loved the fox character and the foreshadowing of the dream, but asked a lot of questions like "what is 'prithee'?"

There are only 6 colors in the illustrations, but they still draw you in. Different visual weights of the same color feel like a larger variety of colors on the page.

1959 Honor Books:

by Taro Yashima

What it's about:
Momo gets rubber boots and an umbrella for her 3rd birthday and can't wait for a rainy day when she will finally be able to use them.

What I like:
This is a very realistic tale about being excited about something and having to wait.
I love the way the illustrations of Momo so clearly capture the body language of a young girl.
The Umbrella is a simple family tale about how people who love you tell you things about your own childhood that you were too young to remember.

What Do You Say, Dear? 
illustrated by Maurice Sendak
written by Sesyle Joslin 

What it's about:
Simple every day manners are appropriate even in outlandish situations.

What I like:
I LOVE when funny books get acknowledged with awards. This is a goofy book. I like to imagine kids around the time of publication totally enjoying the absurd situations and wanting to read it again and again.

The House that Jack Built: La Maison Que Jacques A Batie 
by Antonio Frasconi

What it's about:
This is the classic cumulative tale of the House That Jack Built told in English and French side by side on each page.

What I like:
This is the first bilingual book with two languages appearing side-by-side for the entire story that I have encountered in the Caldecotts (please correct me if I am misremembering).
I'm a sucker for woodcuts, so I love the illustration style.
Psst... another Caldecott Cat!

Challenge total: 106

Saturday, September 15, 2012

I'm Bored by Black and Ohi

written by Michael Ian Black  
Illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

What it's about:
A girl tries to prove to a potato that kids art NOT boring.

What I love:
I absolutely love the illustrations in I'm Bored!

The simple drawings of the girl and potato on a white background convey an awesome variety of facial expressions and emotions.


I also love how artfully the illustrations communicate the girl is using her imagination.

And, it's just plain funny. 
The kind of funny that got as many chuckles from my 1st graders as my 6th graders.

Only problem... the reenacting!
Some teachers are getting confused by the students now walking up to me saying "I'm Bored!"
My response, "Hey, there's a Flamingo!"

Don't miss the adorable I'm Bored Music Video:

I'm Bored Music Video (inspired by the new picture book from Simon & Schuster BFYR) from debsanderrol on Vimeo.