The Story of Jumping Mouse by John Steptoe. Published 1984. Caldecott Honor 1985.
I liked everything about this book except the ending, which came completely out of nowhere and made very little sense. Jumping Mouse’s selflessness and desire to do more than just sit around eating berries is inspiring, and I expected the ending to reward him differently than it did. Still, the lifelike illustrations are eye-catching, even only in black-and-white, and it was fun trying to imagine how each animal might speak as I read the book aloud to my husband.
Alexander and the Wind Up Mouse by Leo Lionni. Published 1969. Caldecott Honor 1970.
I like the subtle way that Leo Lionni’s books teach kids life lessons. This story - in which a real mouse wishes to be a toy, while a toy mouse wishes to be real - explains the joys of being oneself, and of using your own good fortune to help others. I like the illustrations, mostly because they portray everyday household objects, but from a mouse’s point of view.
Juanita by Leo Politi. Published 1948. Caldecott Honor 1949.
This book gives a nice glimpse into the life of one little girl living in Mexico. I didn’t find the story particularly compelling, and I thought the sheet music for the songs Juanita’s family sings would have fit better at the back of the book, rather than stuck in at random throughout the story. I did like the two-page spread where the children line up to have their animals blessed. The entire illustration tells a story all its own, and I can imagine kids spending time with it, making up their own characterizations and dialogue.
Nine Days to Christmas by Marie Hall Ets, illustrated by Aurora Lastabida
This story about a little girl hosting her first posada starts out as a nice slice of life story about a Mexican celebration. I could relate to Ceci’s anticipation and her continual questions to her mother about whether or not she would have a pinata. I even related to her reluctance to hit the pinata and break it. The ending takes a strange, almost supernatural turn, though, and that put me off the entire book.
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