Monthly Archives: December 2012

Yonie Wondernose – 1945 Caldecott Honor Book

 This week read  Yonie Wondernose by Marguerite De Angeli, a 1945 Caldecott Honor Book.  The setting for this wonderful book is on an Amish farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  Being an avid Amish novel reader, I was immediately excited that this book was about this special group of people.

YoYonie Wondernosenie is called a “Wondernose” because his curiousity frequently gets him into trouble.  When he is left at home with his little sister and grandmother, his father leaves him in charge of the barnyard animals with specific directions for their care.  Yonnie cares for the farm with a few distractions along the way.  Finally, he falls asleep, but is awakened by a fire in the barn.  He and his grandmother save all of the animals, but the bull is injured due to Yonnie wandering away to satisfy his inquisitiveness.  Yonnie’s father forgives the boy and shows him how proud he is of his growing son by giving him a piglet and a calf as well as a promise that he will be able to help with the spring plowing.


Caldecott Criteria:

1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” – This book is full of beautiful illustrations with lots of detail.  Some pages have black and white sketches while others are filled in with visually-pleasing colors typical of the Amish culture.

2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – These pictures make this story easier for young readers to understand.

3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.”-  The illustrator pictured these scenes just as I would imagine an Amish farm.  It is a bit surprising that the faces of the characters are illustrated in detail since that goes against Amish religious beliefs.

4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – All of these characteristics are very clear through the pictures.  I particularly enjoyed the facial expressions on each of the characters, but the father’s look as he hugs his son after the fire is especially touching.

5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – My children enjoyed this book and were amazed that a young boy could be responsible for so much on a farm.


Leave a comment

Filed under Caldecott Medal Winners, Recommended Reads

The Christmas Anna Angel – 1945 Caldecott Honor Book

The Christmas Anna AngelThe Christmas Anna Angel, a 1945 Caldecott Honor Book by Ruth Sawyer and illustrated by Kate Seredy, is a difficult book to understand without a good handle on the history of Russia, the traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church and lots of old wives tales, which, admittedly, I was lacking upon reading this story.  In the beginning Anna and her family are visited by a scary-looking man dressed in colorful robes and carrying a staff on St. Nicholas Eve who asks what they would like for Christmas.  Apparently, this was supposed to be St. Nicholas himself on December 6th.  The next holiday that the family celebrates is St. Lucy’s Day on which the children chase the chickens around their yard in an attempt to make them lay eggs, supposedly causing them to lay every day throughout the entire year.  This holiday takes place on December 13th and is celebrated mostly in Scandinavia, but also in some parts of what I think of as Russia today.  Finally, the family celebrates Christmas Day with their modest presents and ornately decorated shaped cakes.  There is so much more to this story, but I found the storyline impossible to follow.  With a talking dog and an angel appearing to the girl with her same name, as well as with the arrival of St. Nicholas, I could not tell from the story itself what was real, imagined, or a dream.


Caldecott Criteria:

1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” – A wide variety of pictures are in this book.  Most of them are charcoal and colorful chalk – very typical of the western Russian culture of the late 1800’s to early 1900’s.

2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – The pictures do complement this story well.

3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.”-  Depictions of St. Nicholas and other religious icons, as well as the clothing pictured make this story come to life as a Russian tale.

4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – The pictures do not serve to interpret the confusing plot or theme, but the characters and setting are very clear and well-pictured.

5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – My children did enjoy this book, but were confused about the storyline, too.  To do fair justice to this book, I would need to spend considerable time teaching them about the history and culture suggested in the narrative and by the illustrations, so that they could truly understand what is happening.


Filed under Caldecott Medal Winners

The Robin Family

The Robin Family by Frances R. Horwich and Reinald Werrenrath, Jr. teaches children in a sweet and old-fashioned way much about bird observation and robins.  A little girl who loves visiting the park with her mother and baby brother is excited to see a robin in the grass and runs after it, but it flies away.  She quickly learns that she must watch the birds quietly from a distance and becomes intrigued as the robin builds a nest and raises a family of four chicks.  She is sad when she no longer sees the robins at the park, but is then overjoyed to see a robin visit outside of her own home.

Pros:  Since I have been teaching my children about birds recently, this book was a gentle introduction to bird watching.  

Cons: None.

Age Range: 2-7

Leave a comment

Filed under Recommended Reads

The Crane Maiden by Miyoko Matsutani

Another book that my children particularly enjoyed lately was The Crane Maiden written by Miyoko Matsutani and illustrated by Chihiro Iwasaki.  As an old Chinese man travels from his home to a nearby village he finds a large and beautiful crane caught in a trap.  When he tells his wife that he released the magnificent bird she assures him that he will be rewarded for his good deed.  Shortly thereafter, a young woman knocks on their door and is welcomed inside to eat and sleep.  Since this girl has no family, the couple The Crane Maideninvites her to stay as part of their family.  When she realizes that the couple is struggling financially, she offers to use an old loom to make cloth that can be sold, but requires that no one must look at her while she works.  After three days of work, her beautiful fabric is sold for a handsome price.  Later she offers again to make fabric with the same limitation of no one seeing her while she is busy at work, but this time the old woman peeks in and sees a crane working at the loom.  Immediately the woman leaves the loom, hands the fabric to the woman, and explains that she must leave since she has been seen as a bird.  She leaves the house as a woman, but flies away quickly as a crane.

Pros:  Again, my children loved this book!  Also, lessons of keeping promises and trust are easily taken from this story.

Cons:  There are mentions of pagan “gods” and some may not like the fanciful tale.

Age Range: 4-9

Leave a comment

Filed under Recommended Reads