Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Caldecott Challenge Post #74

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey. Published 1948. Caldecott Honor 1949. 

This is one of the few books of which I have very specific childhood memories. I always thought Sal was a boy, despite the pronouns in the text, and I remember being fascinated by the endpapers, where Sal and her mother can their blueberries. Though I probably couldn’t have articulated it back then, I have also always loved the blue ink of the illustrations. Looking at now, I’m drawn to the details - Sal’s shoes, the distinct sound of the berries hitting the bottom of the empty pail, and the faces on the people and the bears. This remains one of my absolute favorite picture books.

One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey. Published 1952. Caldecott Honor 1953.

I never read this one as a kid, but I can imagine I would have loved seeing Sal a bit more grown up - and old enough to lose a tooth, at that! The story is lengthy, which can make it tricky for young story time audiences but perfect for elementary school class visits. I love how realistic all of the characters look, and how occasionally they look out of the page right at the reader. I also enjoyed Sal’s little sister, Jane, who moves silently in the background of many pictures, doing her own thing. There is so much happening in the illustrations that is never mentioned in the text, which, for me, is always the sign of a wonderful picture book.

If I Ran the Zoo by Dr. Seuss. Published 1950. Caldecott Honor 1951.

I don’t tend to think of Dr. Seuss as an illustrator. I focus more on his talents as the author of all those wonderful rhyming books. But the art in this one did grab my attention. My favorite picture is of the head of the blue-haired Iota. It’s so simple, and yet conveys so much personality. I also like the way that the very first page turn effectively performs a magic trick. In the blink of an eye, Gerald McGrew leaps in to trade places with the zookeeper, setting up the whole fantasy that follows. It’s such a small detail, but one of my favorite moments in the book.

Bartholomew and the Oobleck by Dr. Seuss. Published 1949. Caldecott Honor 1950.

I haven’t thought about this book in years, but reading it brought it all back to me. My third grade teacher read it to my class, and I remember making oobleck afterwards. I always thought it was neat that every page was almost exclusively black and white except for the green splotches of sticky oobleck. Something about the story reminds me of King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub. I’d like to bring the two together for a story time.

A Pocketful of Cricket by Rebecca Caudill, illustrated by Evaline Ness. Published 1964. Caldecott Honor 1965.

I haven’t been fond of many Evaline Ness books in this challenge, but this one - written by Rebecca Caudill - stole my heart. Like Mary and her lamb, Jay and his cricket go to school, only to find themselves in a bit of trouble. I love the way Caudill describes Jay’s discovery of the cricket, as well as his use of the cricket as a kind of security blanket on his first day of school. I like the earthy color scheme Ness uses, as well as her depiction of Jay as small and thin compared to objects such as his bed and the school bus. This would be a great book to share at back-to-school time that might be overlooked by those who have not read it before.

See other Caldecott Challenge participants' blogs on the challenge page at LibLaura5. Follow my challenge progress here.

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