Thy Friend, Obadiah. by Brinton Turkle. Published 1969. Caldecott Honor 1970.
There are a lot of picture books about kids who love animals, but not too many like this one, where a child does not want an animal to be his friend. This conflict is set up instantly on the title page spread where Obadiah walks ahead of the seagull, looking over his shoulder in annoyance. The only things appearing on that page are the two characters and yet the reader already understands the type of relationship they have. I had some trouble with the language - “thee” and “thy” sounded out of place to me, even though they evoke the time period and location quite well. I appreciate that this story shows us a slice of life in a community with which we might not be familiar, but that it tells an additional story about the meaning of friendship.
The Rooster Crows by Maud and Miska Petersham. Published 1945. Caldecott Medal 1946.
There are some pages in this book that struck me as very familiar, but I can’t confirm for sure that I read it as a child. I like it a lot, regardless. Many of the rhymes and jingles, as the subtitle calls them, were familiar to me, but almost as many were not. My favorite illustration is the one for “I asked my mother for fifty cents” - there is just something about that elephant. I also love the grumpy faces on the little boy whose is the forbidden fourth on the sidewalk in “Two’s a couple” and Lazy Mary when she refuses to get out of bed. Though their drawing styles are different, the details of the figures in the Petershams’ illustrations - and the way each illustration seems to tell a story of its own - reminded me of Marla Frazee.
Mother Goose by Tasha Tudor. Published 1944. Caldecott Honor 1945.
I love the fine lines of Tasha Tudor’s illustrations of these many Mother Goose rhymes. Some of the rhymes use different words than the ones I learned growing up - such as “Ring-around-a roses” where “We’ll all tumble down” and “Baa, baa, black sheep” where “the little boy cries in the lane.” I think my favorite image of the entire book is of the old woman who lived in a shoe. Tudor has drawn it as an upside down old shoe with children peeking out of the soles and dancing on the heels. I usually see illustrations of an upright shoe, but this somehow makes more sense. I also enjoyed all the tiny details of the children in this particular picture who, thankfully, don’t appear to be very upset about having been whipped and sent to bed.
Cock-a-Doodle Doo by Berta Hader and Elmer Hader. Published 1939. Caldecott Honor 1940.
I like the black and white illustrations in this book better than the ones with color. I wasn’t especially impressed by the story, especially because of its strange unsatisfying ending, but I did appreciate the realism in the images of the different animals. I think a retelling of The Ugly Duckling where the baby turns out to be a rooster is a great idea, but this book doesn’t quite pull it off.
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