Noah’s Ark by Peter Spier. Published 1977. Caldecott Medal 1978.
I enjoyed this wordless interpretation of Noah’s Ark. I thought the translated Dutch poem that opened the book was a great introduction to the events of the story. Spier’s use of space on each page is the most impressive aspect of the illustrations. I love the images of the cramped interior of the ark and the lines of heavy rain as they fall. I also enjoyed the visual representations of the passage of time, both during the rainstorm, and while Noah waits for the return of the dove. I especially love the final page, where the rainbow symbolizes hope for the future, and Noah is shown planting. There is so much detail on each page that kids will literally lose themselves in this book.
Castle by David Macaulay. Published 1977. Caldecott Honor 1978.
I am not a non-fiction reader, so all the details of castle-building weighed a bit heavily on me, but I could appreciate why this was a great book. Kids who are obsessed with castles, or with buildings in general love books with this level of detail, and this book makes all that dry information very interesting and readable. The illustrations and diagrams add a necessary visual component that contextualizes everything and really helped me stick with the text even when it really felt like too much. My favorite thing about the book were the pages showing the layout of the castle and its surrounding town at various points as it changed and grew. I think kids are fascinated by maps that show the passage of time like that.
The Glorious Flight by Alice and Martin Provensen. Published 1983. Caldecott Medal 1984.
This book is another new favorite for me. It is a non-fiction book, but with a great sense of character and story. The reader gets to know Louis Bleriot through the eyes of his children, who grow up witnessing his various attempts at creating a successful flying machine. Bleriot comes across as an endearingly stubborn man who is so singularly focused on his dream that he thinks nothing of the bumps and bruises he receives in the process. The tone of the writing is so light and conversational, it’s easy to forget you’re actually learning something as you read. This is a great biography for very young kids who are just learning about the genre, and one of the few non-fiction titles I think would work well in story time.
Hawk I’m Your Brother by Byrd Baylor, illustrated by Peter Parnall. Published 1976. Caldecott Honor 1977.
The illustrations in this book bored me, and the story was weird. Was it about believing in your dreams? Or about protecting wildlife? Or about setting free what we love? I can imagine kids having a hard time connecting with a book like this. I really didn’t like it, and it took a lot for me to actually get through to the ending.
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