Wee Gillis by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson – 1938 Caldecott Honor Book

Wee Gillis by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson – 1938 Caldecott Honor Book

Wee Gillis, a young boy from Scotland, is caught between his parents’ different cultures — the Lowlanders and the Highlanders.  He spends alternating years with each side of his family learning their way of life and profession and becoming increasingly stronger.  Finally, one day he must choose where he will live and what hisprofession will be.  As his uncles are trying to convince him to work with each of them, a man happens along carryinga large bagpipe.  The bag is so large, in fact, that the man does not have enough wind to play the pipes.  Each uncle tries blow enough air into the bag, but fails.  Finally, Wee Gillis succeeds in playing the pipes, thanks to the strength he has gained in his lungs while working with his family.  He then decides to remain halfway between the Lowlands and the Highlands playing the largest bagpipes in all of Scotland.

Caldecott Criteria:
1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” – The black and white short line drawings are amazingly detailed.  I particularly liked that the viewer could practically “feel” the roughness of Wee Gillis’ woolen clothing.
2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – The pictures convey the story plot effectively.
3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.” – The Scottish theme is portrayed convincingly.
4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – The hilly setting, feuding families, and Scottish clothing evident throughout the illustrations make this story come alive.
5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – My 5-year old and I were laughing by the end of this book and agreed that it was a fun and worthwhile book to read.

Age Range: 3-10

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Filed under Caldecott Medal Winners, Recommended Reads

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