Ben’s Trumpet. by Rachel Isadora. Published 1979. Caldecott Honor 1980.
This is not my favorite Rachel Isadora book, but it’s got a lot of interesting illustrations. The various black-and-white patterns manage to visually portray the sounds and rhythm of jazz music, and the story itself gives hope to kids who dream of playing a musical instrument, or of reaching any other dream. I think my favorite page in this one is the two-page spread showing the silhouettes of men playing the trumpet.
Duke Ellington. by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney. Published 1998. Caldecott Honor 1999.
I didn’t really have a strong reaction to this picture book biography. I don’t care very much for Brian Pinkney’s style even though I can recognize his talent, so the illustrations didn’t really do much for me. I do like the visual representations of music coming out of different instruments and the warm-tone color scheme used for the book, but the text feels awkward to me, especially in moments where it starts trying to sound more poetic.
The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins. by Barbara Kerley. illustrated by Brian Selznick. Published 2001. Caldecott Honor 2002.
This book was not at all what I expected. I’ve always thought it was fiction, in a genre similar to Jumanji. Instead, I learned that it’s the true story of a scientist who built models of dinosaurs based on fossils. It’s one of those stories, with highs and lows, that really gets kids interested, and it’s a perfect blend of science and biography. Kids who like dinosaurs will enjoy it, but even kids who aren’t crazy about them can still enjoy the human interest aspect of the book. This was a surprise new favorite!
Free Fall. by David Wiesner. Published 1988. Caldecott Honor 1989.
I love that Free Fall is basically one extended illustration, interrupted only by page turns. I don’t think I have the first idea what the story is actually about, but there are a lot of interesting moments. I especially like the page where the boy arrives at a chess game in his blue pajamas and the one where he seems to be getting up from the page of a book. I also love the way the patterns of the boy’s blanket and book keep turning up throughout the rest of the images. David Wiesner has a most interesting imagination!
See other Caldecott Challenge participants' blogs on the challenge page at LibLaura5. Follow my challenge progress here.