Posts Tagged ‘family’

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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Higher Power of LuckyTitle: The Higher Power of Lucky

Author: Susan Patron

Illustrator: Matt Phelan

Newbery 2007

This book is significantly more heartbreaking to read as an adult than it would be as a child.  Lucky’s fears are those of a ten-year-old – an orphan in uncertain circumstances, but a child nonetheless.  To an adult, her clear poverty, abandonment, and other hard times are well-written and therefore hard to read.  I recommend this book, but with caution for some children, because losing one’s parents is one of the largest fears out there.  On the other hand, the life of her tiny town and the beauty of the desert around her is woven with care and gentleness.

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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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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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