The author and illustrator Leo Politi can do everything. He creates delightful multicultural stories with adorable illustrations, and writes music and...moreThe author and illustrator Leo Politi can do everything. He creates delightful multicultural stories with adorable illustrations, and writes music and lyrics for his books (though some are traditional songs I believe). This is the third book I’ve read of his for the Caldecott Challenge, and this won a 1949 Caldecott Honor. The book is another book that starts on Olvera Street (the same as his book "Pedro, the Angel of Olvera Street"), which is the Hispanic part of Los Angeles. On the street are shops owned by Mexican families, including one named Juanita after the shop owner’s young daughter. Juanita is turning four years old and her parents have bought her a dove for her birthday, and her mother has sewn a beautiful pink and lace dress. Juanita takes the dove everywhere with her. On the day before Easter, the local Catholic Church has a Blessing of the Animals ceremony and all the local families and their pets attend, including Juanita in her new dress with her dove. After the day’s excitement, Juanita’s dress is hung back up for Easter Sunday and her mama sings her to sleep (the music/lyrics are included in the book). Recommended for ages 4-7, 4 stars. (less)
I probably would not have picked this book up except that it won a 1993 Newbery Honor and a Coretta Scott King award. But I’m very glad I did. The boo...moreI probably would not have picked this book up except that it won a 1993 Newbery Honor and a Coretta Scott King award. But I’m very glad I did. The book is a fascinating glimpse into African-American folktales from the Southeastern US. I’ve never heard of most of them. Patricia C. McKissack is a fabulous storyteller. There’s a little bit of everything in this book: ghosts, voodoo, Sasquatch, daring escapes, demons and protector spirits and monsters. The woodcut illustrations by Brian Pinkney are great, though I wish there were more of them. My favorites were “We Organized”, “The Woman in the Snow”, and “The Gingi”. Recommended for ages 7-12, 5 stars. (less)
I found this book to be a rather slow read, as the text was really dense, but it definitely got easier to read the more you got into it. I really enjo...moreI found this book to be a rather slow read, as the text was really dense, but it definitely got easier to read the more you got into it. I really enjoyed the snippets of memories about his father as a game keeper in Tanzania and his growing up there, which were interspersed among the narrative about the author and his father’s past. Although I know about the expansiveness of the British Empire, I sometimes forget that were British citizens living in Africa, outside of South Africa.
What would you do if you found out that your father, a man you always idolized, was not who he seemed to be? That is just what happened to the author, after being contacted by an Indian historian researching the Parallel Government, right before the Indian Independence from Britain. So the author sets out on a quest to discover the truth about his father, who was stationed there during the last days of the Raj (the period of the British dominion in India), and his role with the Indian Police from 1938-1947. Through the course of the author’s investigation into his father, I learned more about British-controlled India and the Indians’ first attempts at becoming their own separate country, and about how terrorism is perceived throughout the world. Because of his trip to India, the author is able to have some closure on his father’s death, and reconcile how he saw his father versus how his father really was as a man and as a professional. 3 stars.
Disclaimer: I received this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.(less)
I managed to slip this short read into our bedtime story routine last night. The book won a 1949 Caldecott Honor. This is only my second Kurt Wiese bo...moreI managed to slip this short read into our bedtime story routine last night. The book won a 1949 Caldecott Honor. This is only my second Kurt Wiese book but he seems to predominantly write books about China, and the books are a little dated, as evidenced by the clothing in the story. This was a cute story about a young Chinese boy named Young Fish who wants to fly the biggest Fish kite. His father, Old Fish, buys it for him and on the way to flying it, Young Fish promptly gets swept away by a strong wind and end up in the river. He is caught by a napping fisherman, and rescued by his father. He quickly decides that he would much rather have the smallest fish kite. Recommended for ages 3-7, 3 stars. (less)
I found this book at the library book sale this weekend and picked it up because I love folktales and my son loves turtles. The story reminded me of t...moreI found this book at the library book sale this weekend and picked it up because I love folktales and my son loves turtles. The story reminded me of the West African stories about Anansi the spider, as he is also a trickster, although Mbeku the tortoise seems much more greedy and unredeemable compared to Anansi.
The story comes from the Igbo people of Nigeria. Mbeku the tortoise had a beautiful shiny shell. He tricked the birds into giving him their feathers and becoming their spokesman after they were all invited to the Skyland for a feast. Mbeku got his friend the lizard to create some wings for him, which he uses to fly up with the birds and eat all their food. In punishment, they destroy his wings and leave him stranded in the sky. He plans on jumping down, but after the birds learn that he has fooled them for a third time, they sabotage his soft landing. Mbeku falls and breaks his shell, and his friend the lizard tries to repair it but it is now rugged and ugly. Recommended for ages 5-10, 4 stars. (less)
I was rather excited when I found out that Blair Lent illustrated this, as I have enjoyed his work in the past for the Caldecott Challenge. The artwor...moreI was rather excited when I found out that Blair Lent illustrated this, as I have enjoyed his work in the past for the Caldecott Challenge. The artwork in this book wasn’t as good as his other books, such as “Why the Sun and the Moon Live in the Sky”. This book won a 1965 Caldecott Honor. However, the story was interesting enough. It is harvest time in a small fishing village in Japan, when suddenly the sea starts withdrawing from the shore. A wise old grandfather knows what is happening and tries to warn the villagers by burning his rice fields. They see the smoke and come running. He saves them from the ensuing earthquake and tidal wave. Recommended for ages 4-8, 3 ½ stars. (less)
I will say that this was a very long book to read aloud, with not that many illustrations, but the ones it did have were pretty detailed and spectacul...moreI will say that this was a very long book to read aloud, with not that many illustrations, but the ones it did have were pretty detailed and spectacular! Finding out that this author was the same author that did another Caldecott Honor winning book "Journey Cake, Ho!" makes more sense, as this was another odd duck book. The parts of the story that I didn't get were in relation to St. Lucy's Day, where Anna chases chickens around a yard and sings a song while doing it, to encourage to lay eggs throughout the year. It just seemed out of place. Plus there was that whole thing with the talking dog on Christmas Eve.
Ruth Sawyer obviously researched quite a bit to create this book, which was about a Hungarian family during a war. This book won a 1945 Caldecott Honor. It explains a lot about the Christmas traditions celebrated in the Russian Orthodox Church, as carried out by Anna and her family. The story starts off with a visit from St. Nicholas himself, who asks Anna and her brother what they want for Christmas. Soldiers have already cleared out most of their harvest and food, and even though they don't have the ingredients, the one thing that little Anna wants for Christmas is a Christmas Cake. She finally gets her wish when her very own Christmas Anna Angel (who looks just like her except with angel wings) makes magical Christmas cakes for the whole family to eat. Recommended for ages 7-10, 3 1/2 stars. (less)
I'm never quite sure how to analytically handle books on Native Americans from before the 1970s, as I know most of them were very stereotypical and no...moreI'm never quite sure how to analytically handle books on Native Americans from before the 1970s, as I know most of them were very stereotypical and not very accurate. The book won a 1944 Caldecott Honor, though the only book I really liked from that year was "A Child's Good Night Book". The story is about Little Brave Heart, a Plains Indian (not sure from what tribe) who decides that instead of attending school, he will go hunting. He starts by hunting a mouse, who leads him to a prairie dog and on and on to bigger and better animals until at last he is hunting a bear. However, the bear is so much bigger and meaner than him, that he quickly decides it would be much better if he left and returned to school. So he does, in a hurry. Recommended for ages 4-7, 2 stars. (less)
I rather enjoyed this story, though it did take awhile to get into it and it was way too wordy for my son. The book won a 1971 Caldecott Honor. The st...moreI rather enjoyed this story, though it did take awhile to get into it and it was way too wordy for my son. The book won a 1971 Caldecott Honor. The story is based off a Tlingit Indian legend from the Pacific Northwest, and tells the story of a young girl named Lapowinsa who makes fun of the moon and soon kidnapped into the sky. Her friend Lupan goes to rescue her by shooting arrows into the sky, which form a ladder. He is helped along by a grandmother figure, the sun. It’s the illustrations which really bring this story alive. Blair Lent, who did the awesome illustrations for “The Funny Little Woman” and “Why the Sun and the Moon Live in the Sky: An African Folktale”. It’s cool details like Lupan needs food for his long journey up the arrow ladder, so he puts a branch on his head and it grows and produces bush full of berries. Recommended for ages 9-12, 3 ½ stars. (less)
I love Obadiah! He is so precious. I was so excited after having read the Caldecott honor winning book “Thy Friend, Obadiah” by the same author, that...moreI love Obadiah! He is so precious. I was so excited after having read the Caldecott honor winning book “Thy Friend, Obadiah” by the same author, that he did a few more books on our Quaker boy Obadiah.
In this book, Obadiah keeps getting in trouble with his teacher and family for telling outrageous fibs. The family’s big event in the story is a sheep shearing and fair, where they go with all the other Quaker families to socialize. Obadiah is warned against going to the sideshow tents. While there, he is separated from his family but finally makes his way back to them at the end of the day. He tells them what seems like another crazy story about him riding an out-of-control sheep when he was saved by a sideshow performer who showed him around the area. He got to see fire-eaters and go dancing. That is pretty exciting stuff for a young Quaker boy. They don’t believe him, until his story is confirmed by a neighbor. Recommended for ages 4-8, 5 stars. (less)
It took me forever to get into this story, but I enjoyed it once it finally got going. When the Fool starts picking up men for his flying ship, I imme...moreIt took me forever to get into this story, but I enjoyed it once it finally got going. When the Fool starts picking up men for his flying ship, I immediately thought of Baron Munchausen, which was originally a book written by a German author named Rudolph Enrich Raspe and also turned into a 1989 cult classic movie called "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" (which happens to be one of my favorite childhood movies). I enjoyed the illustrations by Uri Shulevitz, as they definitely helped move the incredibly long story along, and helped him win the 1969 Caldecott Award.
This story was taken from a collection of Russian folktales from the beginning of the 20th century. It is about a boy named the Fool of the World who goes in search of a flying ship to give the Czar so he can marry his daughter. On his way into the world, he meets an old man and because of the Fool's kindness, the old man tells him how to find a flying ship and instructs him to pick up everyone he sees on the way. The Fool does as he is told and soon the ship is full and on its way to the Czar, who of course, must present challenges for the Fool to complete before he just gives his daughter away to a common peasant. With the help of his new friends, the Fool completes the challenges, becomes rich and powerful and wins the Czar's daughter. Recommended for ages 4-10, 4 stars.
I have read this book before, as it was one of the books I kept from my childhood, but couldn't remember much about it. So I re-read it for the Challe...moreI have read this book before, as it was one of the books I kept from my childhood, but couldn't remember much about it. So I re-read it for the Challenge. It is based off a Russian folktale and tells the story of the Three Kings, as viewed through the eyes by Baboushka. Don't you just love saying that name? She is a Russian grandmother who meets the Three Wise Men/Kings and offers them lodging, which they refuse and say they must finish their journey to meet the Christ Child. They invite her along but she turns them down, only after they have left, she decides that the baby must really be important and she sets out on a quest of her own to find him. Baboushka becomes a Santa Claus figure as that is who Russian children wait to bring them gifts on Christmas Day, just like she tried to do for the Baby Jesus. The ink pen drawings are done with primary colors. This book won the 1961 Caldecott Medal. There must've not been very much competition that year as the other book to win the Honor wasn't very good either. Recommended for ages 4-8, 3 stars. (less)
This book won the 1966 Caldecott Medal. It was a very interesting choice as the book is adapted from a Scottish folk song and the author has left in e...moreThis book won the 1966 Caldecott Medal. It was a very interesting choice as the book is adapted from a Scottish folk song and the author has left in enough Scottish words to let you know the heritage. There is a glossary of terms in the back of the book to help you out if you get lost though. The story is about Lachie MacLachlan, his wife and their ten children. They live in a small house but always have their door open for "one more" person, and the father is always inviting people to their house parties. This is all well and good until the house literally breaks apart. However, the good people he has shown hospitality and friendship to return the favor by rebuilding his house to twice its original size, so there is "always room for one more." It is interesting to note that the author's pseudonym was Sorche Nic Leodhas, which means "Claire, daughter of Louis" in Scots Gaelic, but her real name was LeClair Gowens Alger. Recommended for ages 5-8, 3 1/2 stars. (less)
This book immediately reminded me of "Nine Days to Christmas: A Story of Mexico" by Marie Hall Ets, which is on the same topic, although this book was...moreThis book immediately reminded me of "Nine Days to Christmas: A Story of Mexico" by Marie Hall Ets, which is on the same topic, although this book was done earlier thirteen years earlier. Both books' core story is about La Posada, the journey that Mary and Joseph make in Bethlehem, when they are trying to find a place to stay, so Mary can have the baby Jesus. The title comes from the title character Pedro, who sings so sweetly that he is called "the Angle of Olvera Street," which is where he lives in Los Angeles and the site of the original Latino settlement in the city. Pedro is asked to sing, as an angel with red wings, at La Posada at the head of the procession. He dreams of getting a small music box from the piñata, which is broken after the people in the procession find a place to stay, and he is lucky enough to receive one. The book, as did his Caldecott Medal winning book "The Song of the Swallows," contains the author's original music and lyrics. This book won a 1947 Caldecott Honor award. Recommended for ages 4-8, 3 stars. (less)
This was a rather odd story, and the difficult-to-pronounce Armenian names really distracted me, making it hard to finish. In this story based on a Ar...moreThis was a rather odd story, and the difficult-to-pronounce Armenian names really distracted me, making it hard to finish. In this story based on a Armenian folktale, two robbers are engaged to the same woman, though neither of them knows it. One day while on the road, they run into each other and find out, and so create a contest to see who is the best and most clever robber. One operates only during the day, and the other only at night. The winner will get the girl. Only they don't really determine who is the best, but instead decide to keep robbing the area as it is very profitable. Their girl ends up moving on to someone else. Recommended for ages 7-10, 2 stars. (less)