The Biggest Bear by Lynd Ward. Published 1952. Caldecott Medal 1953.
A great story for animal lovers - and without that stereotypically sad ending. I love Ward’s use of shadow to create atmosphere in his pictures.
Andy and the Lion by James Daugherty. Published 1938. Caldecott Honor 1939.
Andy and the Lion is similar to The Biggest Bear, but a bit more whimsical. I enjoyed that Andy’s entire adventure with the lion originates with a library book, and that there is room in the story to believe that it really happened, or to believe everything happened in Andy’s imagination. I also noted the scene where the lion gets a thorn in his paw as similar to what happens in The Lion and the Mouse - could it be that this is one of the stories Andy read that got him so interested in lions to begin with? I was also interested in the dedication page, which refers to the New York Public Library lions as Lady Astor and Lord Lenox rather than Patience and Fortitude. I didn’t realize they’d ever had other names, but the whole story can be found here.
Five Little Monkeys by Juliet Kepes. Published 1952. Caldecott Honor 1953.
This is a tale about mischievous monkeys who redeem themselves and then become heroes. The illustrations are a bit unusual, and in some places, they seem totally random and disorganized. Random images of fruit and animals appear among the text on black and white pages, and some animals - like the lion and tiger - look real, while others, like the monkeys, look very cartoonish and not especially like themselves. I think the illustrations look like a child created them, and they don’t scream “Caldecott” to me at all.
The Fox Went out on a Chilly Night by Peter Spier. Published 1961. Caldecott Honor 1962.
I am not fond of books where the illustrations alternate between black and white and color. I always tend to gloss over the black and white and gravitate toward the color. This book is no exception. I love the vibrant colors of the paintings and mainly skipped over the less exciting line drawings. Though it might gross out some readers, I was pleased to see a fox acting like a fox. He should be killing birds for food and bringing them home to his babies! I love so many of the pictures it would be hard to choose a favorite, but I think my favorite aspect of each page is the fall foliage. The colors of the leaves do a wonderful job of evoking the chilly night.
Dash and Dart by Mary & Conrad Buff. Published 1942. Caldecott Honor 1943.
I really liked Dash and Dart. It’s written more like an easy reader than a picture book, though I’m not sure it has the controlled vocabulary that true easy readers do. I liked learning about the different stages a baby deer goes through, and though “Old Horny” is kind of an unfortunate name for a handsome buck, I liked the way Dash looked up to him. The scene where Dash does not recognize himself in the pond is kind of a cliche, but otherwise I thought this was a unique way to teach kids the details about how deer grow up.
See other Caldecott Challenge participants' blogs on the challenge page at LibLaura5. Follow my challenge progress here.