The Ox-Cart Man – 1980 Caldecott Medal Book

The Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall, illustrated by Barbara Cooney – 1980 Caldecott Medal Book

The Ox-Cart Man tells the story of a family who works throughout the year on their farm to produce a myriad of items that may be sold at market in the fall to provide for their family.  The book begins at what seems to be the end of the process as the man sets out to sell the goods and even the cart and ox that he took to town.  He buys a few items the family needs, then returns home to start over.  The folk-art illustrations, while simple, perfectly complement this story.  The clear colors, countryside scenes, and pleasant expressions on the characters’ faces give a calming sense of well-being to this story about the rhythm of the passing seasons.

Caldecott Criteria:
1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” – Beautiful folk art illustrations.  Simple, yet effective.
2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – As the family’s year unfolds, the story is easily understood through the pictures.
3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.” –The style of the illustrations perfectly fits the storyline.
4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – The plot, characters, setting, mood, and information are depicted so clearly through the pictures on each page that the story could nearly be understood without words at all.
5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – My girls definitely enjoyed this book.  The illustrations led to great discussions about shearing sheep, spinning wool, and other old-fashioned farm tasks.

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Filed under Caldecott Medal Winners, Recommended Reads

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