Thursday, May 24, 2012

Caldecott Challenge Post #28

Anansi the Spider by Gerald McDermott. Published 1972. Caldecott Honor 1973. Henry Holt. ISBN: 9780805003109

I remember the illustrations in this book very strongly from childhood, but I didn’t remember the story very well until I read it at story time last year. I think the most appealing thing about the book is the bright colors and bold shapes and prints used in the illustrations. I especially like that Anansi is made up entirely of geometric shapes, but that he still resembles a spider. I also like the way the sons’ bodies have symbols representing their names and abilities. Visual cues like that are so important for kids who don't read yet. As I recall, this book didn’t make a great read-aloud for preschoolers, but I bet it would be perfect in grade-school classrooms.

Swamp Angel by Anne Isaacs, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky. Published 1994. Caldecott Honor 1995. Puffin. ISBN: 9780140559088

I’m not crazy about tall tales and folk tales, but this one wasn’t bad. The illustrations have so many details in them, kids can spend literally hours looking at everything and gathering every aspect of the story. It’s also one of the few tall tales I’ve read that is short enough to read aloud to preschoolers in one sitting. I think kids enjoy stories with larger-than-life characters, and Angel is definitely one of those, and I think girls, especially, would be glad to see a heroine who fights bears with her bare hands!

Lon Po Po by Ed Young. Published 1989. Caldecott Medal 1990. Philomel Books. ISBN: 9780399216190

I remembered this as a very scary book, which I think was read to me at some point during elementary school. As an adult, I wasn’t nearly as disturbed by it, but the illustrations still gave me that creepy vibe. I was especially impressed by the illustrator’s use of eyes to convey emotions such as fear and curiosity. I also think it would be a good book for helping kids overcome their fears. The three children in the story are able to trick and defeat a nasty wolf without any adult intervention, which creates a sense of empowerment, as well as relief. I also really recommend this book to teachers whose classes are studying fairy tale variations from different countries.

Casey at the Bat by Ernest L. Thayer, illustrated by Christopher Bing. Published 2000. Caldecott Honor 2001. Chronicle Books. ISBN: 9781929766000

This poem was a favorite of mine as a kid, but I’d never read an illustrated version. I think Christopher Bing does a great job capturing the late 1800s and the atmosphere of baseball games during that time. The newspaper-style illustrations within the scrapbook-like format of the entire book are very effective, and demonstrate the fervor of baseball fans and the high hopes they have for their favorite teams. I especially love the way even the acknowledgements and author biography are printed as news clippings, so that the book’s continuity of design is never disturbed. I would consider this a picture book for older children, since there is so much historical context and so much rich language in the poem, and I suspect it might just make poetry appealing to baseball fans who might otherwise shun poems.

See other Caldecott Challenge participants' blogs on the challenge page at LibLaura5. Follow my challenge progress here.

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