Archive for the ‘Caldecott’ Category

Title: Grandfather’s Journey

Illustrator/Author: Allen Say

Caldecott 1994

The illustrations are beautiful, and laid out somewhat like a memory book or photo album, which is correct for the subject matter.  The story is clearly heartfelt and true, though not actually all that well written. Say’s grandfather traveled from Japan to the US and back to Japan, always missing the other country.  I’m sure this resonates for many immigrants and travelers, but the wording was sometimes clunky.  The paintings are technically well-done, but only certain images seem like they truly have heart to them.  Perhaps this is on purpose, to evoke snapshots, but I am not sure.


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Title: Smoky Night

Illustrator: David Diaz

Author: Eve Bunting

Caldecott 1995

A child’s recollections of the LA riots are told in fabulous illustrations.  Each page’s background is made up of a collage of objects that could be found in that scene, plus a beautiful painting.  It is hard to imagine under what circumstances you would own this book – unless, of course, you and your child had lived through a riot or war and needed to tell that story.  For older children, it could be a lead-in to a discussion of violence, perhaps when such events were being shown on TV or in the news.  A beautiful book; a heartbreaking subject.

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House in the NightTitle: The House in the Night

Illustrator: Beth Krommes

Author: Susan Marie Swanson

Caldecott 2009

What a beautiful book.  Somewhat like Goodnight Moon in its repetition, but simpler and with more focus on the joy of home and hearth (and less existential).  The illustrations balance simplicity of style with complexity of content – a great book for seeking and finding with a small child.  The choice of black and white with hints of yellow makes it stand out from other goodnight books, as well.  The scratchboard illustrations are almost woodcut-like in appearance, but with more delicate detail than you might expect.  This could easily become a child’s favorite bedtime book – luckily for the adults involved.

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TuesdayTitle: Tuesday

Illustrator/Author: David Wiesner

Caldecott 1992

While I loved this book, as usual, I have to wonder a bit at why Wiesner has gotten so many Caldecotts.  Granted, the story is funny, scientifically accurate (except for the flying), and beautifully rendered, but so was Flotsam.  At least The Three Pigs (review to come) has a distinctively different illustration and storytelling style from the other two.  This one, however, is very similar to some of his other work.  Nothing against the book – I love it – but one wonders who else could have gotten the recognition one of those years. Regardless, the book is gorgeous and the frogs fabulous.

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SylvesterandtheMagicPebbleTitle: Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

Author/Illustrator: William Steig

Caldecott 1970

This was one of my absolute favorite books as a child.  It’s even good for pre-readers, because the pictures are so clear you can follow the story without the words.  There are also a couple of jokes in the pictures that are not there in the words (confused ducks and lions, for example). The donkeys are nicely anthropomorphized – wearing human clothes and walking on their hind legs, but clearly donkeys nonetheless.  The final image of Sylvester and his parents on the couch is, I think, permanently in my brain. All of Steig’s books are classics in the truest sense.

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HugoCabretTitle: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Author/Illustrator: Brian Selznick

Caldecott 2008

Imagine a book that is a silent movie from the early 1900s.  This book reads like the detailed storyboard of a silent film – the images are integral to the story, and illustrate portions of the story that are never told in words.  There’s an audiobook of this book, and I can’t figure out how that would work.  It is celebration of early film and its magic, and of the mechanical magicians of the French fin de siècle. I ordered a DVD of the George Méliès movies discussed in the book, examples of the earliest movie special effects and fantasy.

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HelloGoodbyeWindowTitle: The Hello, Goodbye Window

Author: Norton Juster

Illustrator: Chris Raschka

Caldecott 2006

If I had any friends who were grandparents, I would give them this book in a heartbeat.  It is a beautiful celebration of a grandparent-grandchild relationship, all told through a window.  The illustrations are just this side of finger-paint – vibrant like a child’s drawing, but much more understandable than your average kid picture.  I think many kids would respond to that familiar style.  The family is also subtly interracial, which is a nice touch.  The page depicting the girl and her grandmother looking at all the stars is absolutely gorgeous and very textural – I wish I could touch it.

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