The 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.”
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.