Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears. by Verna Aardema. illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. Published 1975. Caldecott Medal 1976.
If I’ve read this one before, I’ve since forgotten it, but I really liked it - both the illustrations and the story. The death of the baby owl would have traumatized me as a kid, which is why I might avoid using it at story time, but I love the way it becomes a cumulative story as the blame is traced back to the mosquito’s words on the very first page of the story. It’s a great lesson in cause and effect and a great warning against telling lies and making assumptions. And the last page, where the mosquito gets smacked, is somehow very satisfying.
Ashanti to Zulu. by Margaret Musgrove, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. Published 1976. Caldecott Medal 1977.
This book would make an interesting introduction for an elementary school class studying African culture. I would consider incorporating parts of it myself into a library program, though it might be a bit dry for a read-aloud. The illustrations are by the Dillons, who I recognize as major talents, but I will admit that I focused more on the text than the pictures.
A Story, A Story. by Gail E. Haley. Published 1970. Caldecott Medal 1971.
This picture book is the story of how Ananse the Spiderman managed to get the stories of the world away from the Sky God, making it possible for us to tell our own stories. The repetition of certain phrases - used for emphasis in African story telling - make it a great one for reading aloud. I think kids will especially like the various tricks Ananse performs to outsmart the three creatures who stand between him and the stories.
Why the Sun and the Moon Live in the Sky by Elphinstone Dayrell, illustrated by Blair Lent. Published 1968. Caldecott Honor 1969.
This story is very direct and comes to an abrupt end once all the information has been delivered. I tend to think folk tales that explain natural phenomena like this are silly and far-fetched, and this wasn’t really any exception. I liked the patterns in the costumes on the figures, and the blues of the water people’s outfits in particular. I am also intrigued by the idea of the sun and moon as husband and wife.
Moja Means One by Muriel Feelings, illustrated by Tom Feelings. Published 1971. Caldecott Honor 1972.
This is another informative lesson in African culture and language. Kids always like the opportunity to learn words in a new language, so this book will be likely to grab their attention. The illustrations are similar to the pictures in other similar titles illustrated by Tom Feelings - they’re lovely to look at, but I have a hard time comparing one book to the other.
See other Caldecott Challenge participants' blogs on the challenge page at LibLaura5. Follow my challenge progress here.