Pedro The Angel of Olvera Street

Pedro AngelPedro The Angel of Olvera Street, a 1947 Caldecott Award recipient, again indicates to me the interest at the time of this writing in learning about other cultures.  Written and illustrated by Leo Politi, this story is about life in the Mexican community on Olvera Street in Los Angeles.  While the storyline seems disjointed, the little boy’s love for music is evident throughout the book as he sings for his grandfather, participates in a Posada celebration at Christmastime, and wins a beloved music box after striking a piñata.
 
Caldecott Criteria:
1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” – The Latin, New World watercolor style is not pleasant or interesting to me.
 
2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – Given that the only theme I could really follow was that of music I wished that the musical theme would have been more evident pictorially.  There are a couple of (I am not fond of the trend toward leaving out this preposition.) simple musical scores in the middle of the book, but pictures of the music box are poor.
 
3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.”-  The colors in the illustrations have a definite Latin flair and are simplistic, possibly illustrative of what might be seen through the eyes of a child.  Be that as it may, I would have appreciated even more use of color and more details.
 
4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – Near the beginning and end of the book the pictures are helpful in depicting plot, theme, and characters, etcs, but in the middle they do not even seem to correspond to the storyline.
 
5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – The only reason my children connected at all with this book was that they had recently seen a play that included a Mexican Posada.
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