Sunday, March 11, 2012

Caldecott Challenge Post #14

Shadow by Blaise Cendrars, translated and illustrated by Marcia Brown. Published 1982. Caldecott Medal 1983. Aladdin. ISBN: 9780689718755

This eerie book is not a bedtime story. Its spooky pages depict a shadow, known in African culture as a being that slips between the past and the present. At least one page outright terrified me, and the rest of them left me feeling unsettled. The book is unusual, for sure, and I think I'd have a hard time finding a child to whom I could recommend it.

Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold. Published 1991. Caldecott Honor 1992. Dragonfly Books. ISBN: 9780517885444

Strangely, I remembered this as a wonderful book, but finished this reading feeling pretty neutral about it. The first line of the story - "I will always remember when the stars fell down around me and lifted me up above the George Washington Bridge." - is beautifully poetic and engaging, but after that initial moment of appreciation for the author's talents, I started losing interest. I did like the way the illustrations incorporated different angles and vantage points, but this fantasy element of flying and the history lesson about bridges didn't mesh well for me, and the ending sounded nice, but didn't feel satisfying to me. I do think this book would pair well with Blackout, however.

The Paperboy by Dav Pilkey. Published 1996. Caldecott Honor 1997. Scholastic. ISBN: 9780531071397

Until I read this book, I thought of only two things when I thought of Dav Pilkey - Dumb Bunnies and Captain Underpants. I had no idea there was this more serious side to his work, or that his illustrations could be so soft and filled with such lovely detail and color. The story is about the morning routine of a paperboy, who gets up when everyone is asleep and heads out on his own to deliver newspapers. Every page evokes the silence and mystery of the early morning, and for twenty-first century kids who are more likely to read their news on a screen than on the printed page, the entire book provides insight into an experience most kids probably don't know about. For me, this book was a reminder of the stories my own father has told me about his experiences as a paperboy. This is one of several books I've read for this challenge so far that would be great to promote during the Dream Big, Read summer reading program this year.

Many Moons by James Thurber. illustrated by Louis Slobodkin. Published 1943. Caldecott Medal 1944. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN: 9780152518738

In high school, I read two short stories by James Thurber - The Secret Life of walter Mitty and The Catbird Seat. I also used to own a paperback copy of his children's story, The Wonderful O. I didn't know about Many Moons until more recently, but I'm glad to have made the discovery. The story is about a princess who begs her father to get her the moon. He consults all the various royal assistants who have helped him in the past, trying to find a way to accomplish this task. When they finally devise a way to fool the princess into believing she has received the moon, the king then realizes he must also come up with an explanation for why the moon is still in the sky if his daughter has it in her possession. The most wonderful thing about this book is the credit it gives to children and their imaginations. It is the princess who ultimately defines what the moon means to her, and who provides the explanation for the moon being with her and in the sky simultaneously. I also love the clever writing, particularly when each of the king's advisers lists the things with which they have helped the king in the past. I also think the illustrations are lovely, and I wish they hadn't bothered with a reissue.

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

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