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Joseph Had a Little Overcoat
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Joseph Had a Little Overcoat

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  16,045 Ratings  ·  1,139 Reviews
Joseph had a little overcoat, but it was full of holes--just like this book! When Joseph's coat got too old and shabby, he made it into a jacket. But what did he make it into after that? And after that?As children turn the pages of this book, they can use the die-cut holes to guess what Joseph will be making next from his amazing overcoat, while they laugh at the bold, che ...more
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published 1999 by Viking (first published January 1st 1977)
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After reading Simms Taback’s version of “There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly,” I thought that there would never be another die-cut formatted folk song book, but I have just recently read another folk song book called “Joseph Had a Little Overcoat.” “Joseph Had a Little Overcoat” is a Caldecott Medal award-winning book by Simms Taback and it is about how a man named Joseph had an old overcoat and decided to make it into something new. “Joseph Had a Little Overcoat” is definitely a children’
Sep 06, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture
Joseph had a little overcoat (not sure in what sense an overcoat can be "little" -- Joseph appears to be a normal-sized man); it gets too patched and worn so he cuts it down into a jacket. When the jacket gets to frayed he makes it a vest, etc until there is nothing left. From his house, Joseph doesn't look excruciatingly poor; not sure why he can't buy a new coat.

I see from the end note that this is a song. Maybe had I grown up with this verse it would have been more appealing to me. My favori
Based on a traditional Yiddish folksong (the lyrics and musical score of which are, in fact, featured on the last or rather the second to last page, much appreciated, although I would prefer to have both the English and the Yiddish lyrics included), Simms Taback's Joseph Had a Little Overcoat presents a totally and utterly magical marriage of text and image (I can more than well understand why and how this gem of a picture book was awarded the Caldecott Medal, as the illustrations are a true fea ...more
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I think this is a great story and really loved the message of making over what is old and worn-out into something new and useful. (And the final message was a good one, too!) I thought the cut-outs were such a clever and fun way to show the updates to the clothing. It felt like a rich, warm book and the cultural elements seemed very special. I'm afraid I am not knowledgeable enough to fully appreciate all of the nuances of what is included in the illustrations, but even so I could chuckle at som ...more
Jun 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens
A Caldecott award winner and deservedly so, the pictures alone would probably have done it. Unusual illustrations coupled with some cutout pages with pictures of the overcoat behind, it made for an interesting tale of making something out of nothing. Also a good lesson, and the note from the author at the end of the book, coupled with the actual sheet music of the Yiddish Folk Song made it a winner in my book.
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: caldecott-medal
This picture book was inspired by a yiddish folk song. It was about how Jospeh's coat was old and worn out but he always made something new out of the material.
Oct 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A very cute folktale about a man that always makes the best of everything. Great way to teach kids that you can always make SOMETHING out of nothing!
Oct 25, 2008 rated it liked it
A colorful, fun-filled story based on a Yiddish folksong, about a resourceful man named Joseph, who makes new things out of his old clothes.

Intended age group: 5-8

It was a mistake to read this book with a migraine, since each page in this book is a kaleidoscopic shower of color--buttons, scraps of cloth, patterns on clothing, tiny photographs of vegetables and flowers, all on a contrasting dark background. Under normal circumstances, however, the story is a delightful fantasy about a man in an
Aug 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Are your kids a tad materialistic? Do they want every toy they see? Do they just assume anything they break will be replaced by you? Call me a sucker, but I drove to two stores last night looking for a Lego Indiana Jones set so that my son could take one of the 2" tall figures to school and play with a classmate. Go ahead, call me a sucker; my husband did.

Thinking on last night reminded me of Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, a 2000 Caldecott Medal winner by Simms Taback that teaches the virtues of
Mar 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
A wonderful story that fit right in with the story of about the 3 Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) we just read.

This is a fantastic way to show how one item can be reused again and again until there's nothing left but to make a story or song about it. We sang the song at the end together and our oldest made up a song on the spot, she was so inspired by the book.

This book was selected as one of the books for the January 2017- Caldecott Medal Winners 1998-2002 discussion at the Picture-Book Club in t
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
See pix and the song here:
For actual story, only slightly different from book, see your library.

Wow, and I thought I was thrifty! Love the animals, and the pictures on Joseph's walls.
Jennifer Honahnie
Jan 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Based on a Yiddish folk song “I had a little over coat”, Joseph the main character tells a story of his overcoat. Covered with holes this overcoat is turned into a jacket then a scarf, this transition continues to the end of the book. The coats repeated change is shown through the use of dye-cut pages, readers can visually see the change when the page is turned. Every time Joseph makes something new out of the coat Joseph has a new adventure which leads swiftly to the moral of the story.

This st
Book Concierge
Taback was inspired by a traditional Yiddish folk song, that tells the tale of a poor man whose overcoat had many holes. He cuts is down to make a jacket, and when that is worn, he cuts it down further to make a vest. He continues in this way until there is nothing left … and then he makes a book! Proving that with some ingenuity you can make something from nothing.

Taback’s wonderfully detailed illustrations earned a Caldecott Medal. I found myself pouring over the vibrantly colored pages, full
One of my favorite Caldecott winning books - and one of the cutest! I love the illustrations and the clever design of the overcoat getting reused into other items. Definitely deserves the award!
Cris Ingram
Jan 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Joseph starts out with a long overcoat, he wears it so much he continues to make a jacket, vest, a scarf, tie, a handkerchief and a button, because they keep wearing out. He loses the button and then has nothing, but the moral of the story is, "You can make something out of nothing!"

Very colorful, easy reading, and the die cut shapes that give the clues to the next item that he makes is fun!
RH Walters
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Lively art and strong message, plus it's a song.
Nov 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Joseph Had A Little Overcoat by Simms Taback is a small and short picture storybook that has a big and long-lasting message, “You can always make something out of nothing”. This tale follows the creativity and activities of the title character, Joseph. At the start of the story, we discover that Joseph has a little overcoat that is “old and worn”. However, he decides to make a jacket out of it and go to the fair. This decision sparks the beginning of Joseph’s journey with his little overcoat.

Christine Jensen
Jan 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Approximate Interest Level / Reading Level: Early to Mid Elementary

Format: Picture Book

Awards: ALA Notable Books for Children (2000), Caldecott Medal (2000)

I originally chose this book for the illustrations but on further exploration also found it culturally significant. On my first read, I was taken in by the cut outs that show Joseph recycling the cloth of his overcoat into smaller and smaller garments as they wear out. Readers can predict what he will make next by the shape of the cut out, an
Courtney Spicer
Apr 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing

Taback, S. (1999). Joseph Had a Little Overcoat. New York, NY: Penguin Group

When Joseph was a young man, he had an overcoat that he loved. As his years past, his coat became worn and he was able to cut it down to a vest, a tie, some patches and finally a button. He used and loved this fabric his entire life. As he aged, so did the fabric, yet Joseph was able to find a use for this specific piece of his life that he loved. He carried with him the treasure that once was an overcoat, and recreated
Melissa Overland-mckay
Joseph has an overcoat he wears everywhere. When he finds it gets too old and worn he makes it something new. He uses it as an overcoat, a jacket, a tie and a handkerchief but Joseph never stops losing it until he loses it. But Joseph always remembers how to make something out of nothing so he makes a book about it.

Joseph Had A Little Overcoat is a children story with an easy to read repetitive story line. Within each page, this story tells a story from the pictures. The author is able to use c
Oct 19, 2008 rated it really liked it

This is a picturebook adaptation of a Yiddish song chronicling how Joseph finds new uses for his threadbare overcoat.


I found the busy and colorful pictures a bit overwhelming at times. But the die cut pictures that showed the progression of the overcoat as it made its way from coat to vest to scarf all the way down to a button were pretty cool. Additionally, the book is sequential and has a lot of predictable repeats that make it easy for a younger child to follow along. There is a
Reuben Andrade
Apr 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book shows you how "you can always make something out of nothing." Joseph Had a Little Overcoat is about a man named Joseph who owns an overcoat that becomes old. Instead of throwing the coat out because it is old, he makes it into something else. He changes it into a jacket, vest, scarf and several other items.

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat is an easy reading, cut out picture book. This picture book was predictable due to how it written. Each sentence basically followed the same structure.
Judith Bracamonte
Sep 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Joseph has a little overcoat is an early readers book but even though there is only a short sentence one each page, the message goes a long way throughout the book. You first see Joseph wearing his overcoat which is full of patches so it is obvious that the book will be about what Joseph does with his overcoat. The introduction of the book does not explain if Joseph is poor or rich and does not say what his religion is but when you open it you immediately feel as if you are in a foreign country. ...more
Sierra Willis
Nov 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Joseph starts the book with a lavishing overcoat that serves him several purposes throughout the book. He starts the book with a full coat and is quite happy, as the story goes on he continuously over wears the coat and is forced to make it into different clothing items to keep him warm. By the end of the book, he is left with much less than what he started with due to how much he wore his coat.
This book is unlike most books, and sticks with earthy tones. The book is pleasing to the eye and ser
Nickolas Florez
The book follows Joseph and his overcoat, which grows old and worn so he decided to refashion it into a jacket. After the jacket is worn out, he makes a vest out of it. Every time Joseph uses what use to be the overcoat, it becomes old and worn, and Joseph re-stylizes it into another piece of clothing. The end piece becomes a button, which he uses for his suspenders. Joseph loses the button and decides to make a story out of his overcoat's adventure.
The images in the book follows a simple shapi
Nov 01, 2016 added it
Shelves: rdg-291
The repetition within "Joseph Had a Little Overcoat" makes it a perfect book for children who are just starting to read independently. The story follows Joseph as he takes something, starting with his overcoat, which is old and worn and makes it into something new. The words are bright colors, mirroring the bright colors of Joseph's overcoat, on a black background which acts as a fading margin for the illustrations. The illustrations look to be paper-crafts, with cut-outs in the story showcasing ...more
Garrett Michael
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Published by The Penguin Group (1999)
32 Pages
5 Star Rating
Genre: Fiction
Grade Levels: Pre-K through 5th Grade
Guided Reading Level: H
Lexile Level: BR1280

Jospeh had a little overcoat but it was filled with holes. As the story goes on, readers are able to see what Jospeh does with a coat full of holes. What will he do first with his coat? And after that? This book keeps children engaged through a short journey and gives an overall life lesson that you can always make something out of noth
Sep 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Book summary: This book is an award winning book. It is about a man who starts with an overcoat. That overcoat is worn so he makes it into something smaller. Each time the piece of fabric gets too worn he makes it into something else such as a vest, tie, handkerchief, or button. Then one day he loses the button but he makes something of nothing anyways to show readers the valuable lesson that we can always make something out of nothing.
Grade level: K-2
Appropriate classroom use: This is a good s
Caroline Pilman-DeKruif
Feb 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Children will read this book in anticipation of discovering what resourceful Joseph, the story’s main character, does with the fabric that is left of his already very worn overcoat as the piece becomes smaller and smaller and made into a variety of items. Die-cut holes and mixed media including watercolor, Gouache, pencil, ink, and collage enhance the jovial, repetitious story by providing incredibly vivid imagery.

Author and illustrator Simms Tabak includes music and lyrics to the song the book
Stephanie Cahill
Apr 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback is a great story for little kids with a lot of meaning. It starts off with a man named Joseph that has a big overcoat but it was getting too old so he made it into something else. Every time the material from the coat got too old, he would make it into something else and every time it was turned into something smaller and smaller. This kept happening until it was turned into a button. Once that button was gone he surprised the reader by showing everyo ...more
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Simms Taback (born 1932) is an author and illustrator. He was born in the Bronx to a Jewish family. He is famous for illustrations for many children's books including, the Caldecott Medal winning, There was an Old Lady who Swallowed the Fly and Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, which have earned him many awards and praise in many circles. He was also a designer for CBS Records and The New York Times, ...more