Red Sings from Treetops by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski. Published 2009. Caldecott Honor 2010. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN: 9780547014944
This poetic celebration of colors takes us through each season of the year, showing us where to find each color at various times. The poetry is very strong and salient to begin with, but the folkart-esque illustrations are what makes the collection extraordinary. Kids must love hunting for the red bird, dog, and crown on each page and the incorporation of different words and textures into the illustrations makes them a feast for the senses. This might not be a great book for teaching colors the first time around, but it would be perfect for teaching color from an artistic point of view, for elementary school aged children.
All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee. Published 2009. Caldecott Honor 2010. Beach Lane Books. ISBN: 9781416985808
This might be my favorite picture of all time. It's certainly my favorite of the last ten years. I love Frazee's use of color and light to portray day and night, fair and foul weather, clouds, sunsets, stars, and the warmth of family. Each page offers a whole landscape to explore, filled with people engaged in all sorts of activities. The book is an illustrated poem, but also the ongoing story of each person drawn into the illustrations, as well as the story of every person in the world. My absolute favorite scene in the book is the two-page spread for the words, "All the world is cold and hot," where we look in on the bright interior lights of the cafe as the rain clears up and puddles form on the patio table outside. There is a universal feeling of calm and coziness suggested by this illustration that simply can't be put into words. Frazee's illustrations are filled with perfect specific details that set her work apart from most other illustrators.
1 is One by Tasha Tudor. Published 1956. Caldecott Honor 1957. Simon & Schuster. ISBN: 9780689828430
I have always known of Tasha Tudor, but I think this might be the first book of hers I actually sat down to read. The concept is simple - 1 is One is a counting book, and each page depicts a number and a scene associated with that number. The spreads alternate between color and black and white, which I found distracting, even though I think that is a function of when the book was published rather than an artistic decision. The naturalistic scenes and sweet-looking children in fancy dresses and suits make this the kind of book adults love, but I can see contemporary kids finding it boring. I also don't think it's necessarily a very effective counting book. The objects to be counted aren't easily picked out of every illustration, and the book as a whole doesn't really read as a cohesive unit. Still, though, the illustrations are beautiful, especially the thirteen candles on the birthday cake, whose light seems to dance right off the page. I borrowed this book from my library, but it can also be viewed online here.
See other Caldecott Challenge participants' blogs on the challenge page at LibLaura5. Follow my challenge progress here.