They Were Strong and Good by Robert Lawson

They Were Strong and Good by Robert Lawson tells the stories of the author’s parents and grandparents in short biographical form.  Each from very different backgrounds as a Scottish sea captain, a Dutch girl, and a Southern gentleman who was a preacher and fought in the Civil War, the stories vary greatly in length and interest value.  I had read this book to my children over a year ago and found it boring.  With this reading, I found the beginning of the book to be entertaining and age-appropriate for my children, but the later part of the book seemed to drag on.  The small-line drawings are incredibly intricate and again, fun in the early part of the book, but less engaging as the book progresses.

Caldecott Criteria:

1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” – Very detailed, small-line, black and white drawings.

2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – Each individual story is thoroughlyexplained through the illustrations.

3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.” – The old-fashioned look of the pictures matchesthe overall storyline.

4.“Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – The overall plot and theme are lost, but each story is made clear through the pictures.  The settings and characters are very obvious.

5.“Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – My children enjoyed the illustrations near the beginning of the book, but lost interest as the book when on.

Age Range: 3-10

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