Have You Seen My Duckling? by Nancy Tafuri. Published 1984. Caldecott Honor 1985. Greenwillow Books. ISBN: 9780688109943
I am often perplexed by Nancy Tafuri, because her illustrations are so perfect for babies, but her text is often too long for me to actually share with them in story time. This book, by contrast, is the perfect blend of boldness and color in illustration and simplicity of text. It’s still not a great story time book, since the text is the same on every page, but it would be great for sharing one-on-one with a toddler who can search for the missing duckling on every page. I also love the points of view from which Tafuri draws her pictures. The scene where the ducklings are shown with their heads underwater from the bottom of the pond is perfectly executed and definitely my favorite moment of the entire book.
The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster, illustrated by Chris Raschka. Published 2005. Caldecott Honor 2006. Michael Di Capua Books. ISBN: 9780786809141
Chris Raschka has a strange style, and sometimes I wonder whether kids are drawn to it or turned off by it. From a purely artistic standpoint, the way he portrays so much with such simple swirls and splotches is impressive, but for the untrained eye, I think some of the faces might be difficult to discern. The text isn’t overly exciting, but the ending is very sweet and it’s the kind of thing nostalgic parents will attach themselves to, even if kids don’t quite get it.
Black and White by David Macaulay. Published 1990. Caldecott Medal 1991. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN: 9780618636877
I think even if I read this book 25 times, I’d still be lost. Macaulay begins with four different stories, told in different styles, with different fonts, and illustrated using different techniques. As the strangeness of events in each story grows, they begin to merge, eventually becoming one story that still doesn’t quite make sense. I think what he is able to accomplish is really neat, and there is so much discussion it could generate for older kids - even for teens - but I don’t know if I have the patience to puzzle it all out!
A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead. Published 2010. Caldecott Medal 2011. Roaring Brook Press. ISBN: 9781596434028
I really disliked this book when it was published and was so disappointed when it won the Caldecott, but I still occasionally share it with kids, usually with positive results. There’s nothing terribly wrong with the story - I just never thought it was all that original, and on top of that, I’m just generally annoyed by animals who act like people. Re-readings have given me an appreciation for the unique style of the art, and I like the chess-playing elephant, but otherwise, this book is just not my thing.