Sunday, February 20, 2011

Books #13-17 of 2011

In addition to trying to read 100 books in 2011, I also hope to eventually read all of the Caldecott medal and honor winners. The Caldecott Medal is given every year to the most distinguished American picture book of the year, based solely on the illustrations. Lucky for me, the education library on campus has an awesome selection of school media materials (including children's and young adult books) and even has all the Caldecott winners separated into their own section. So the other day on my lunch break I went and sat down with a few of them.

Arrow to the Sun, illustrated by Gerald McDermott is based on a Pueblo Indian tale and was the winner of the medal in 1975. It is about a young boy who came into being when an arrow was sent to earth from the sun. When he gets older, he returns to the sun in search of his father. The illustrations are created out of geometric shapes in bright colors and are really beautiful. 4 stars

Prayer for a Child was written by Rachel Field and illustrated by Elizabeth Orton Jones and won the Caldecott medal in 1945. It is an illustrated bedtime prayer, with sweet traditional illustrations. For me the best part of this book was seeing an example of an early children's book and thinking about the all the children who have read it over the years. 4 stars

The big surprise out of this group was the winner of the 1978 medal, Noah's Ark, illustrated by Peter Spier. At first glance it's simply the story of Noah's Ark told entirely in illustrations. But once I started to really look at the illustrations, I fell in love. The illustrations are extremely detailed and funny and just generally gave me the warm fuzzies. I feel like you could find something new in the illustrations every time you read the book. I especially liked the scenes showing how Noah took care of all the different animals. I never thought too much about it before, but that would be a big job! 5 stars

The very first Caldecott medal was awarded in 1938 to Animals of the Bible, illustrations by Dorothy P. Lathrop accompanied by text from the New King James Version of the Bible. Not exactly the text we would give a book geared towards children today! It was definitely interesting to see the first medal winner, and the black and white illustrations were beautiful, but this wasn't my favorite book ever. 2 stars

Finally, I read the 1997 medal winner, Golem by David Wisnieski. It is kind of a Jewish folk tale set during the persecution of Jews in 15th century Prague. This is one of those Caldecott winners that is not really appropriate for young children, as many of the themes and images could be frightening. The story was interesting, but it was obvious to me that the illustrations, made out of layers of cut paper, were the real star here. 3 stars

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