As I have said before, I am not a huge fan of Dr. Seuss. While I recognize the value of rhyming for early literacy, the excessive silliness is lost on me. That being said, I enjoyed Seuss’ McElligot’s Pool, a 1948 Caldecott Honor book. The story starts when a boy starts fishing in a small pond, but is soon informed by a farmer that no fish live there, but that he might catch some trash. The boy then wonders if the pond might be connected to an underground brook, and the story becomes fantastical as he imagines where this waterway might lead and what creatures might be living there. Yes, the made up fish are silly, but the illustrations of all of this implausible sea life certainly made me laugh.
1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” – These pictures are typical for Dr. Seuss. I do not consider them technically excellent, but they are detailed and spark the imagination.
2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – YES! I am not sure if the Eskimo Fish swimming in parkas or the comparison of a Sea Horse to a cow fish made me laugh more.
3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.”- For this story’s intent of helping children think about the real meaning of words in a comical way, its style of illustration is effective.
4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – The plot is easy to follow and each character is very clear.
5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – While more colorful pages would possibly help to visually attract children, we all enjoyed this book.
“Chanticleer and the Fox”, an adaptation from The Canterbury Tales, and illustrated by Barbara Cooney, received the 1959 Caldecott Medal. This charming book reminded my children of some of the many Aesop’s Fables that they have heard. I particularly enjoyed that the wit and wisdom of the story’s rooster triumphed over the sly fox.
- “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” – Pictures in primarily black and white with occasional accents in red, green, blue, yellow, and brown allow for eye-catching illustrations. Extensive details are evident, my favorite of which are the thatching on the roof and the bee hives in one scene.
- “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – The story can be followed easily through the pictures.
- “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.”– The illustrative style used in this book elicits the “Old World” setting of Chaucer and the prototypical Aesop-like fable.
- “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – The plot, characters, setting, and information are very clear throughout the book.
- “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.”– My children enjoyed this book, but I believe it was more for the charm of the story than for the pictures. Details in the illustrations, however, could be used to discuss many aspects of farm life.