Martha Freeman's Reviews > A Sick Day for Amos McGee

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead
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Sep 14, 11


I’m late to the party for “A Sick Day for Amos McGee,” written by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin Stead, which won the Caldecott Medal this year. The Caldecott is given for illustration, and in this case brilliant illustrations are wedded to brilliant story – which makes sense because so are illustrator and writer.

It’s a truism that children’s books must have a child or animal hero, but very occasionally an old person is allowed to be used as a stand-in. In this case, it’s big-nosed, balding, sweet-faced Amos McGee, zookeeper. When a cold forces him to take a day off, his pals the zoo animals are so disappointed they take matters into their own, uh… paws, claws and hooves.

The illustrations, created by hand using woodblock techniques and pencil, offer sweet rewards on every page – the penguin’s wing entwined with the elephant’s trunk while they walk, the rhino’s patient expression as he waits for the bus, the way Amos clasps his hands when his friends arrive at his bedside.

With its old-fashioned look and old-fashioned story, “A Sick Day for Amos McGee” was a surprise choice for the Caldecott, but I think it’s perfect.
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