Tawnie's Reviews > Joseph Had a Little Overcoat

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback
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's review
Mar 16, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: picture-books
Read in March, 2009

Adapted from a Yiddish folk song, the book starts with Joseph having an old and worn overcoat. Through out the book he remakes the overcoat to a jacket, vest, scarf, tie, handkerchief, and eventually a button as each article gets worn down. Finally he loses the button and then makes this story, to reminding the readers that something can be made out of nothing. It includes the music for the original Yiddish folk song at the end of the book.

Winner of the Caldecott Metal Award in 2000, the illustrations in this book use a mixture of pencils, paint and collage. The real charm of this book comes from the die cuts used through out the book. Each of these die cuts use full page spreads to transform Joseph’s current version of his coat into the next and offer brief glimpse into the next page. The illustrations are done in a simple folk art style that blends well with this traditional tale. While many of the collaged items seem a bit random they work with the overall style of the book. With its simple repetitions and charming illustrations this book would be easy to use in a storytime or a classroom visit.

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