The Mighty Hunter by Berta and Elmer Hader has received harsh criticism for being overtly stereo-typical of Native American culture, but I found this book to be a delightful story using a little boy’s imagination to convince him of his need to go to school. Yes, the little boy is dressed in traditional Indian garb and hunting with a bow and arrow, but those were typical characteristics for children of his culture in the time period the book was intended to be taking place. I particularly enjoyed how the boy’s imagination runs wild as he starts by hunting a small rat and eventually finds himself facing a big bear with only his bow and arrow.
1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” The mixture of watercolor paintings and black and white pencil are amazingly detailed. The size scales and shading are superb!
2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – The little boy dressed in traditional Native American clothes, along with the desert nature scenes, help this story come alive.
3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.” – While others may believe this book is stereo-typical, I think these illustrations are very close to what I have seen in photographs of how life really was for this culture.
4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – Every picture helps the plot move toward the story’s climax. The characters are exceptional as the little boy is well-developed visually each animal is clearly increasing in size according to the storyline.
5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – My children loved this story and even asked me to read it again. I must say that this is one of my favorite Caldecott books thus far through this series.