Molly Bang’s illustrations don’t really appeal to me, but I do appreciate the way they visually represent Sophie’s emotions in this book. From the very first moment of her anger, her body is outlined in red, as is everything her anger touches. But once she’s outdoors, on her own, trying to calm down, we see that color soften to orange, then peach, and then back to yellow. Though Sophie seems to have little in common with Where the Wild Things Are at first glance, the two books have similar messages - that anger, however powerful, can pass, and that in the end, when you return home, things will be okay. Not my cup of tea, but still a book worth reading.
Alphabet City by Stephen T. Johnson. Published 1995. Caldecott Honor 1996. Viking Juvenile. ISBN: 9780670856312
My favorite thing about this book is that the artwork was found in real life and photographed. As a children’s librarian, I’m constantly preaching the importance of print awareness, and this book really emphasizes the fact that early literacy learning opportunities are quite literally around every corner. I love the fact that Johnson manages to see letters in such interesting places. My favorites are the P on the end of the handrail, the R formed by cracks in sidewalk stones, and the T, which is made of the negative space between buildings.
A Child’s Calendar by John Updike, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. Published 1999. Caldecott Honor 2000. Holiday House. ISBN: 9780823414451
I have never been a huge Updike fan, but there is something sweet about these poems. My favorite is August - where folks “go to seaside / Bungalows / And take off nearly / All their clothes.” I wasn’t enamored of the illustrations at first, but they have grown on me. There are actually entire stories told in the illustrations that relate to but do not necessarily derive from the poems themselves. I love the scene for May, where the young boy hangs on the post of a convenience store’s porch eating an ice cream cone, as well as the Valentine’s Day picture where the kids sit at the table cutting out hearts.
See other Caldecott Challenge participants' blogs on the challenge page at LibLaura5. Follow my challenge progress here.