Thursday, June 28, 2012

Caldecott Challenge Post #30

The Village of Round and Square Houses by Ann Grifalconi. Published 1986. Caldecott Honor 1987. Little, Brown. ISBN: 9780316328623 

This tale of the African village of Tos tells of how the village came to separate itself by gender - with the men in square houses and the women in round ones. I saw some criticism on Goodreads claiming that “If anyone had ever actually read this book, it would have set us all back about 500 years” and indicating that it glorifies the notion of “separate but equal.” While I didn’t enjoy the book, I don’t think it’s really fair to judge the cultural beliefs of this village based on our American ideals. The very first page of the book tells us this is a true story, and I think we do ourselves a disservice when we automatically dismiss stories like this because we’re worried they’re in some way misogynistic or anti-feminist. That said, I wasn’t thrilled with the story just on its own merits, and found it mostly forgettable.

Jambo Means Hello by Muriel Feelings, illustrated by Tom Feelings. Published 1974. Caldecott Honor 1975. Puffin. ISBN: 9780140546521

I think kids really enjoy learning how to say words and phrases in languages other than their own. This book does a nice job of introducing Swahili vocabulary and using these words and their accompanying illustrations as opportunities for teaching about East African culture. I was also surprised by the elaborate process that went into creating the illustrations. I’m still not sure why a children’s book without any color or any real plot would be so appealing, but there is something eye-catching about it. Still, though, I wonder if kids pick this book up without an adult recommendation.

So You Want to be President? by Judith St. George, illustrated by David Small. Published 2000. Caldecott Medal 2001. Philomel. ISBN: 9780399234071

My library does not have the revised and updated edition of this book, which, based on my searching at Amazon, would include George W. Bush, but not Barack Obama. I hope the book does continue to be revised over time, however, because it’s probably the best kids’ book about presidents that I have ever read. Kids love statistics - so knowing how many presidents share a first name, or which ones went to college really interests them. I also think this book humanizes each president so that his personality comes through and kids feel a sense of sympathy and affection toward him. This book is funny and clever, and David Small’s illustrations perfectly capture the tone of Judith St. George’s writing. Another favorite from the list of Caldecott winners.

What Do You Say, Dear? by Sesyle Joslin, illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Published 1958, Caldecott Honor 1959.  HarperCollins. ISBN: 9780064431125

I thought I knew most of Sendak’s books, but this one wasn’t on my radar until after he died. In a tone similar to the present-day Dinosaur books by Jane Yolen (How do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? etc.), this book asks kids to think about the appropriate etiquette for silly situations such as bumping into a crocodile on the street and eating too much spaghetti at dinner with the Queen. The absurdity of the text by Sesyle Joslin is the perfect playground for an illustrator like Sendak, and the earnest little faces of the characters he draws could not be more delightful. In them there are also hints at Pierre, Chicken Soup, and Max, who become the stars of Sendak’s later books.

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

No comments :

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...