Friday, January 18, 2013

Caldecott Challenge Post #71

Strega Nona by Tomie DePaola. Published 1975. Caldecott Honor 1976.

I was never crazy about this book as a kid, but I know it’s a favorite among many grown-ups. What struck me during this reading is the involvement of priests and nuns in the story. I also noted that it would be useful in a storytime about Italy or Italian food. I think Big Anthony’s punishment is a bit much at the end of the story, but I think kids find it funny. Personally, I prefer the story of the magic porridge pot, but probably only because that’s the one that was read to me as a preschooler.

The Amazing Bone by William Steig. Published 1976. Caldecott Honor 1977.

I have to say I like this quirky little story better than Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. It’s clever and creative, and even though it doesn’t seem to make much sense at first, I grew to love the talking bone as much as Pearl does. The robbers with their masks, guns, and daggers are plenty scary and seem more violent than a lot of imagery in picture books nowadays, but I think kids would be less troubled by it than their parents. It seemed like a bit of a cop-out that the bone just magically knew the words to get Pearl out of trouble with the fox at the last minute, but if a bone can talk, I suppose it can do anything else it wants, too!

Song and Dance Man by Karen Ackerman, illustrated by Stephen Gammell. Published 1988. Caldecott Medal 1989.

The story in this one seemed pretty cliched to me, and the repetition of phrases like “the vaudeville stage” got annoying pretty quickly. I tend to like Gammell’s illustration style in general, but I wasn’t overly fond of how the grandpa looks in this story. I think my favorite picture is actually the spread where he and the kids are in the attic looking for his old song and dance clothes. The use of shadow is great throughout the book, but it’s especially evocative in that scene.

The Judge by Margot and Harve Zemach. Published 1969. Caldecott Honor 1970.

This is one of my favorite Caldecott Honors of the entire list. The repetition and gradual accumulation of details about the monster give it a great sense of suspense, but the cartoonish illustrations keep it from becoming scary. Kids will laugh at the ending, and feel satisfied that justice has been served.

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

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