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 

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