Monthly Archives: March 2013

Flossie and the Fox by Patricia C. McKissack

flossie and the foxFlossie and the Fox by Patricia C. McKissack relates the story of a little girl who tricks a sly fox so that she can safely deliver eggs across a forest.  After being sent away with the load of eggs by her grandmother who warns her about the fox, Flossie encounters the wily creature.  In order to avoid his tricks, the girl says she refuses to believe that he is a fox.  As she makes her way through the woods, she insists instead that the fox must be a rabbit, a cat, and a squirrel based on the characteristics that the fox points out.  Just as he points out that he has sharp teeth and can run fast and THAT must mean he is a fox, Flossie reaches the end of her journey, and dogs chase off the befuddled animal.  On the last page, the reader learns that Flossie knows the true identity of the fox all along, but her game has allowed her to outsmart the animal and safely deliver her grandmother’s farm goods.

Pros: A fun book to teach using reasoning and sequential thinking.


Cons:  While I liked the use of African American language typical of the Southern United States, it did bother me that 
its use was not consistent.

Age Range: 3-8


4 of 5

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White Snow Bright Snow 1948 Caldecott Medal Book

White Snow Bright SnowWhite Snow Bright Snow, written by Alvin Tesselt and illustrated by Roger Duvoisin, received the 1948 Caldecott Medal Book.  Before the snow begins to fall, the reader meets the postman, the farmer, the policemen, and the wife of the policemen.  We watch how they prepare for the inclement weather, survive through the storm, and finally enjoy the outdoors as Spring begins to arrive.
 
Caldecott Criteria:
1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” – These simple illustrations utilize grey tones with accents in reds and yellows to accentuate the white of the snowy scenes.  While not detailed, these pictures help the reader feel at home in the town.
 
2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – Each picture captures the words in the story well.
 
3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.”-  Roger Duvoiosin’s folk art style helps this story set in a small town seem real.
 
4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – The plot, theme, characters, setting, and information are very clear.  The mood changes throughout could have been more obvious.
 
5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – My children and I all enjoyed reading this book during one of our own blustery snow days.

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Song of Robin Hood – 1948 Caldecott Honor Award

Song of Robin Hood, selected and edited by Anne Malcolmson, with music arranged by Grace Castagnetta, and designed and illustrated by Virginia Lee Burton, received a Caldecott Honor award in 1948.  The fifteen original ballads of Robin Hood are presented in this book with modern musical notation and detailed drawings. 
 
Caldecott Criteria:
1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” – These black ink drawings are amazingly detailed.  Each 4-lined stanza has its own small descriptive picture.  If you look down through each of these illustrations it is almost like a slow-moving cartoon.
 
2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – The story is easily understood with the tiny pictures to the side of each stanza, but readers should come armed with a magnifying glass.
 
3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.”-  The drawings do have a very medieval look.
 
4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – The illustrations closely adhere to the plot and information given in the story.    The overall theme,however, seems to get lost.  The characters, though present, lack a sense of personhood and, thus, are not easy to identify with. 
 
5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – Although the stories are good and the illustrations are incredible, I found this book difficult to read to my children.  Such tiny pictures made reading this book to a group of children, even just my two big girls, nearly impossible.

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Blueberries for Sal – 1949 Caldecott Honor Book

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey, a 1949 Caldecott Honor Book, sweetly tells the story of a little girl and her mother who take a trip to pick blueberries.  As they are busy picking and lost in their own thoughts, they meet a mother bear and her cub grazing on the same hill’s delicious berries.
Caldecott Criteria:
1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” – Amazing, single-tone­ drawings with so many details that the reader could spend a long time looking at each picture, but simple enough that a very young child could enjoy each scene.  (This is not a complete sentence – do you want to have all complete sentences for consistency?  How about:  The amazing, single-tone­ drawings abound with so many details that the reader could spend a long time looking at each picture, yet the illustrations are simple enough for even a very young child’s being able enjoy each scene.)
2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – The story is easy to understand through the pictures.  I find it fun that the line drawings are all in a dark blue exactly the color of ripe, juicy blueberries.
3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.” – The post-World War II car, 1940’s clothing, and the discussion of canning blueberries lend an old-fashioned feel to the story.  On top of this, the characters’ facial expressions clearly depict the love and concern of a mother for her child, as well as the curiosity of a young child.
4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – Each of these aspects of the story are obvious in the pictures, but the mood and characters are my favorite parts of this book.
5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – My children have enjoyed this book over and over via audio book, as well as in the written format.

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Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran

RoxaboxenRoxaboxen, written by Alice McLerran and illustrated by Barbara Cooney, quickly and unexpectedly become a favorite picture book in our family.  This story of a group of young children who build a play city out of things they find outdoors such as rocks and wooden boxes, captures the imagination of any child, inspiring young readers to think how they might replicate such a play area and reminding parents of wonderful hours spent in a similar environment of their own in bygone days.  
 
Pros:  Beautiful pictures with a story that encourages imagination and ingenuity.
 
Cons: Items in all pictures are small, and are difficult to see for children with vision impairment.
 
Age Range: 3-10
 
5 of 5 stars!

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Little Lost Lamb – 1945 Caldecott Book

Little Lost Lamb by Golden MacDonald (an pen name for Margaret Wise Brown) and illustrated by Leonard Weisgard received a Caldecott Honor in 1945.  The storyline, easy to guess from the title, follows a young shepherd and his flock high into the mountains, where a black lamb wanders away from the flock.  As night falls, the boy tries to find the lost creature, but he must also take the other sheep to safety.  Unable to sleep, he sets out in the darkness to find the young lamb.  Before he finds his charge, his dog chases away a crouching mountain lion.  Finally, all is safe as the shepherd carries the lamb down the mountainside.
 
Caldecott Criteria:
1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” – I find the watercolor pictures in this book to be simple, but detailed enough to be very interesting.  I enjoyed the varied colors used during the daytime scenes as well as the excellent use of shading to achieve a twilight feeling for the night scenes.
 
2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – The illustrations make the story very easy to follow.
 
3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.”-  The style is exactly as I would imagine for a mountainous scene filled with sheep and trees.
 
4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – The plot, characters, and setting are made clear through the pictures.  The mood, though, could have been more obviousby the use of other facial expressions, or maybe a colorful scene at the end to portray happiness when the lamb is found.
 
5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – My children and I all enjoyed this feel-good book.

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Joseph Had a Little Overcoat – 2000 Caldecott Medal Winner

Joseph Had a LittleThe 2000 Caldecott Medal recipient book, Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, is based on a Jewish folk song.  Written and illustrated by Simms Taback, this book creatively retells a children’s classic for modern-day children to enjoy.  Joseph starts out with a a large overcoat, but as it wears out he uses the fabric to make smaller and smaller articles of clothing including a jacket, a vest, a scarf, a tie, a handkerchief, and a button.  Eventually he loses his scrap of cloth, but then writes a book about it, proving that “you can always make something out of nothing.”
 
Caldecott Criteria:
1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” – This book uses a watercolor, folk art style with occasional cut-outs to bring out the article of clothing being discussed at that time.
 
2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – The illustrator very creatively used cut-outs on some pages to show the design of the fabric shown on the previous page on the current page in a new shape.
 
3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.”-  The folk art style with a slight Jewish flair is perfect for this book!
 
4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – The plot, characters, mood, and information are well-described through the pictures.  The setting is less obvious.
 
5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – My children and I laughed throughout this book, then we enjoyed singing the song written out at the end.  This book is perfect to start a discussion about thriftiness with young children.

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