May I Bring a Friend? by Beatrice Schenk De Regniers. illustrated by Beni Montresor. Published 1964. Caldecott Medal 1965. Aladdin. ISBN: 9780689713538
This has been one of my favorite books since childhood. I wasn't a kid who loved animals by any means, but I loved the idea of a child being invited to dine at a castle, and thought it was pretty darn funny that the king and queen never turned away a single one of the boy's bizarre friends. I was also oddly drawn to the color scheme of the illustrations and the switches back and forth from plain black and white pictures to full-color ones. I also think the story has the perfect ending to satisfy preschool readers. I read this book recently with a group of three-year-old pre-K students, and even though it wasn't familiar to them, they, too seemed to enjoy it. This book pairs well not only with Many Moons, but also with A Sick Day for Amos McGee.
Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback. Published 1999. Caldecott Medal 2000. Viking Children's Books. ISBN: 9780670878550
I've always loved Simms Taback's artwork, and I think this is my favorite of his books, because of the cutouts that show the diminishing size of Joseph's overcoat as he makes and remakes it into various new articles of clothing. I especially love the details of the people in the illustrations. The wedding dance scene, for example, shows so many wonderful swatches of color and texture in the relatives' costumes, which embed the story in a specific culture and really add a whole new level to what is otherwise a very simple text. The sheet music at the end of the book is also a really nice touch - I'm working on learning it for ukulele, and teachers and librarians who read music or play musical instruments could undoubtedly learn it as well.
Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang. Published 1983. Caldecott Honor 1984. Puffin Books. ISBN: 9780140504811
In this short and sweet counting book a “big girl” and her father count down to bedtime. I have seen this book on the library shelves many times and always passed it over. It’s too small in size to read at story time, and the illustrations just don’t grab me. I’m assuming the shifts in perspective are what caught the committee’s attention and earned it the Honor back in 1984, but aside from that one neat trick, I just don’t think it’s that remarkable. In fact, on the page for the number four, the position of the father’s hand doesn’t even look realistic. There is no sense that he is actually holding the little girl up at all. The stuffed animals and such might look cuddly and inviting, but there is something off about the people’s hands and feet that takes away from the soothing atmosphere of bedtime the book sets out to evoke.
See other Caldecott Challenge participants' blogs on the challenge page at LibLaura5. Follow my challenge progress here.