Thursday, January 17, 2013

Caldecott Challenge Post #70

In the Forest by Marie Hall Ets. Published 1944. Caldecott Honor 1945.

I think this book has a great first line - “I had a new horn and a paper hat” - which works well to introduce the fanciful parade through the forest that follows. I love the images of an elephant putting on his shoes and the kangaroos teaching their baby to hop. In the Forest evokes some of the same emotions as Sendak’s picture books, though it precedes Where the Wild Things Are by almost 20 years.

Play With Me by Marie Hall Ets. Published 1955. Caldecott Honor 1956.

A little girl just wants someone to play with, but the animals won’t let her get close enough. Only when she sits down quietly is she able to get them to come to her. This is a gentler and less exuberant version of a similar story told in Ets’s earlier title, In the Forest. I like the illustrations - especially the little girl’s realistic child-like movements, her changing facial expressions, and her reflection in the pond. The story is pretty simple and tame, but it’s the kind of book I would have liked as a kid. I also think this one would work as a flannel board for my toddler groups.

Just Me by Marie Hall Ets. Published 1965. Caldecott Honor 1966.

Marie Hall Ets understands what works in a picture book for very young readers - animals, repetition, and a happy ending. In this one, a little boy imitates all the animals he meets on the farm, showing how he can run like a goose, butt like a goat, and hide in his shell like a turtle. When his father comes to get him, though, he realizes that with Dad, he only needs to be himself. The most impressive thing about the illustrations is the way the boy’s human movements so closely echo those of his animal friends without causing him to look like an animal or the animals to look more human. My favorites are hiding in the turtle shell and taking a bath-and-nap beside the pig.

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

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