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July 2017: Award Winners > Tessa's Caldecott Challenge / July 2017 - Award Winners

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Book Concierge (TessaBookConcierge) | 2652 comments Book Concierge (TessaBookConcierge) | 1443 comments
In this thread, I'll post reviews of the Caldecott-winning picture books I've read this month for a challenge in another group.

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Book Concierge (TessaBookConcierge) | 2652 comments The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein
The Man Who Walked Between the Towers – Mordecai Gerstein

From the book jacket: In 1974, as the World Trade Center was being completed, a young French aerialist, Philippe Petit, threw a tightrope between the two towers and spent almost an hour walking, dancing and performing tricks a quarter of a mile in the sky.

My reactions
Gerstein brings the sense of awe and wonder to Petit’s amazing feat. He also recognizes the illegality of the stunt and that Petit was arrested and charged with a crime for trespassing, though his sentence was to perform free for the children of New York.

His illustrations are beautifully rendered, and I particularly enjoyed those from a “bird’s-eye” perspective. They even evoked a sense of vertigo. Two fold-outs expand the scope, one showing the view as Petit crosses the wire, with birds flying beneath him, and the Hudson far below, the other giving a sense of the vertical height from the ground as spectators watch in amazement.

LINK to my review

Something new - I definitely agree with the Caldecott award for excellence in illustration. Although I can't say that I have other books from this year with which to compare, I think I would have voted for this one.

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Anita Pomerantz | 4755 comments I'd like to see the illustrations in this one . . .but that would mean a trip to the library, and I'm so lazy . . .

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Book Concierge (TessaBookConcierge) | 2652 comments You can get a little sense just by clicking on the book cover image, and then "englarge" There's such depth to the illustrations....

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Book Concierge (TessaBookConcierge) | 2652 comments Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges
Saint George And the Dragon – Margaret Hodges
Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman

This is a retelling from Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene, which recounts the legend of Saint George who slew the dragon which was terrorizing the country. It’s a wonderful tale of courage, dedication, and perseverance. George is pure of heart, generous of spirit, and brave beyond measure. A lovely fable.

Trina Schart Hyman was awarded the Caldecott Medal for excellence in illustration. Her paintings are rich and vibrant, and full of small details that support the storytelling. After I finished reading the story, I started again at the beginning just to pore over the pictures.

LINK to my review

Something new - Yes, I would definitely have voted for this book to win the Caldecott. The illustrations are gorgeous and lush.

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Book Concierge (TessaBookConcierge) | 2652 comments So You Want to Be President? by Judith St. George
So You Want to be President? – Judith St George
Illustrated by David Small

This picture book for young children tells some of the interesting tidbits about the American Presidents, from George Washington to Bill Clinton. The message is that almost anyone can be president – fat, thin, tall, short, born in a log cabin or a mansion, college graduate or struggled to learn to read, army general or tailor. There is an updated edition, that includes George W Bush, but even that one states all that all the presidents have been white men, and that no woman has even run for the office. (Although there is acknowledgement of Geraldine Ferraro’s historic run for Vice President.)

David Small’s illustrations earned the Caldecott medal. His near caricatures are fun and engaging, and he includes small details to delight both children and the adults who may be reading aloud. I loved Teddy Roosevelt playing with a train set on the floor, or Richard Nixon bowling, or the Presidential “band” with Bill Clinton on the sax, Chester Arthur on the banjo, and Thomas Jefferson on the violin.

I think I would probably rate this only three stars if it weren’t for the illustrations. Small’s drawings earned that extra star from me.

LINK to my review

Something new - I'm not sure .. I liked the illustrations, but not sure they deserved the Caldecott. No idea what other books were in the running that year.

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Book Concierge (TessaBookConcierge) | 2652 comments Noah's Ark by Peter Spier
Noah’s Ark – Peter Spier

A seventeenth-century Dutch poem by Jacobus Revius is the inspiration for this gloriously detailed picture book, which earned a Caldecott Medal. Spier translated the poem which mentions
“Cow and moose,
Hare and goose,
Sheep and ox,
Bee and fox…”
The poem, itself, is on page 1, but the story really begins on the front inside cover and flyleaf, with a two-page panoramic spread that shows destruction of a village in the distance, while Noah and his family prosper on a hillside and the words “…But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”

This is followed by two more “double truck” pictorial panoramas showing the construction of the ark, while a parade of villagers streams past, and the stacks of provisions ready to be loaded aboard, before the poem is printed.

The rest of the book is entirely pictorial. And these are wonderful illustrations! I poured over them, noticing the pairs of different animals, and marveling at the minute details he included. There are even pairs of spiders, scorpions, dodos and echidnas! The big cats are carefully crated before being loaded aboard the Ark. Mrs Noah is obviously unhappy about the mice and creepy-crawlies. The animals and people left behind are slowly engulfed by the rising waters, as is the landscape.

I especially liked how Spier showed the work involved in caring for this menagerie … feeding the animals, mucking out stalls, providing water. Noah and his family members are delighted when new chicks hatch, or puppies are born, but visibly tired and worn as time passes and the rains continue. By the time the dove returns with the olive branch the people and animals are all equally relieved that their ordeal will soon be over. The elephants are first off, followed by a parade of animals and people. The slow-pokes – turtles and snails are the last to depart. The final panoramic spread, composing the back inside cover, shows the miraculous rainbow, and Noah on a hillside “…and he planted a vineyard.”

What I particularly appreciate about this richly drawn book is that it will allow children to use their imaginations to tell the story of what is happening in each panel. I don’t have any little ones in my life, but I want to go out and buy this book so I can look at the pictures again and again to my heart’s content.

LINK to my review

Something - Yes, definitely! I would vote twice if I could!

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Book Concierge (TessaBookConcierge) | 2652 comments The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
The Snowy Day – Ezra Jack Keats

A young boy in the city wakes to a world covered in snow. He grabs his snowsuit and heads outside, where he is continually delighted by what he sees and feels.

Ezra Jack Keats noticed a lack of children’s books that depicted the kids of his Brooklyn neighborhood, and so began the “Peter” series, featuring this delightful little boy. When the book was first published in 1962, there weren’t many (or any?) children’s picture books depicting African American families. But this is a universal story. All children delight in that first snowfall, in making different tracks in the snow, poking at a tree with a stick, making a snowman, “saving” a snowball, making snow angels, etc.

I was completely caught up in Peter’s adventures. How even a change in the way he walks to produce different footprint patterns intrigues him and captures his imagination. I get the sense of wonder and the desire to be “bigger” so he can get into a snowball fight like the older kids. I also love the tender scene with his mother when she helps him off with his wet clothes and gets him into a warm bath (complete with sailboat and rubber duckie).

The illustrations earned Keats a Caldecott Medal. They are bright and cheerful, and Peter’s red snowsuit stands out in each frame.

LINK to my review

Something Extra - Yes, I would definitely vote for this charming book for the Caldecott.

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Book Concierge (TessaBookConcierge) | 2652 comments They Were Strong and Good by Robert Lawson
They Were Strong and Good – Robert Lawson

Lawson tells the story of his parents and grandparents, and how they came to help shape the history of America. He accompanies the stories with detailed pen and ink drawings, for which he won the Caldecot medal. Some of these illustrations are delightful – I liked the contrast between “modern” city and the farm land that was just two generations pervious, and laughed at the illustration of the aftermath when a parrot nearly devoured a Panama hat. I also appreciate Lawson’s acknowledgment of oral story telling traditions, and of children listening and learning their own family histories from their elders. I certainly spent many an enjoyable evening listening to my grandparents, aunts and uncles regaling us with stories of our family’s past.

So why the low rating? I realize this is a product of its time (originally published in 1940), and that Lawson was proud of his ancestors and their accomplishments. But I am disturbed by the racism within. The depictions of “happy slaves” and “thieving Indians” just leave a really bad taste in my mouth. And now that I know this is the “revised” edition (see WIKIPEDIA entry for some of the original language), I’m even more unhappy. Perhaps it offers an opportunity for parents to have difficult discussions with their children about those episodes in America’s history, and the changing attitudes over the years. But I just don’t like it.

LINK to my review

Something Extra - Did it deserve the Caldecott? Probably, but without seeing the other contenders it's hard to say. Would I vote for it? Not today ... depictions of slaves/servants and Native Americans would not be acceptable today.

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