Abraham Lincoln by Ingri & Edgar Parin d'Aulaire. Published 1939. Caldecott Honor 1940. Doubleday. ISBN: 038508669
This well-written and richly illustrated biography of the sixteenth president of the United States follows Abe Lincoln from his early life to the end of the Civil War. Though I think leaving out the fact that he was assassinated makes this a pretty useless title for most kids in school, the book does make a nice introduction to the president's life, and a good alternative for kids or families who don't want to read about his violent death. I especially love the color images of Abe traveling on the river and riding his horse. There are some problematic images of African-Americans and Native-Americans which date the book to its time, but otherwise, it still holds up today.
They Were Strong and Good by Robert Lawson. Published 1940 . Caldecott Medal 1941. The Viking Press. ISBN: 0670699497
This book is presented as the story of all Americans, and it glorifies an idealized time period that never really existed, during which everyone was strong and good, fighting through hardship and living off the land. At least one of the author's relatives is a slave owner, and no apology is made for this, and everyone portrayed as a flawless hero. The eyes of the figures in the illustrations are lifeless in a creepy way, and the entire thing irritated me more than anything else.
In My Mother's House by Ann Nolan Clark. Illustrated by Velino Herrara. Published 1941. Caldecott Honor 1942. The Viking Press. ISBN: 0670839175
This is the first book I've read for this challenge that I just did not get. The text is repetitive to the point of becoming annoying and predictable, and the illustrations, somewhat interesting, didn't strike me as remarkable. In fact, I thought they were sort of mismatched in places. Realistic buildings clash with cartoonish clouds, and after a while, many of the images seemed like repeats of earlier illustrations. I understood that the book wanted to portray a particular culture, but I didn't feel like I got a true sense of that culture at all.
The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton. Published 1942. Caldecott Medal 1943. Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN: 0395181569
This has been a favorite book of mine for a long time. I have always been fascinated with the way the house remains the same, in the same central location on the page while everything changes, gradually but drastically, around it. I can think of no better way to portray nostalgia and the passage of time for children than this great visual demonstration.I also love the way the illustrations stretch beneath the text on the verso side of each page. I had also never noticed the end papers before - I love the different modes of transportation passing by the little house!