Category Archives: Caldecott Medal Winners

Chanticleer and the Fox – 1959 Caldecott Medal Book

Chanticleer-and-the-fox“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.

Caldecott Criteria:

  1. “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.
  1. Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – The story can be followed easily through the pictures.
  1. “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.
  1. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – The plot, characters, setting, and information are very clear throughout the book.
  1. “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.
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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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The Little Island – 1947 Caldecott Medal Book

The Little IslandThe 1947 Caldecott Medal Book, The Little Island by Golden MacDonald and Leonard Weisgard, is a well-known children’s classic.  This book tells what this small island experiences through each season, each time of day, and in different types of weather.  Animals and plants that inhabit the island play large roles in the story.  In the middle of the book, though, a boat visits the island, leaving a kitten behind.  Although I have not had much experience with pleasure-boating, I do not think I would take my cat along on such a trip.  Also, then, the cat and the island have a conversation discussing if the island is really a part of the world.  While I really enjoy the beginning and end of this book, the middle does seem very peculiar and out of place in the overall story.

 

Caldecott Criteria:

1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” – The water color illustrations depict life on a beach beautifully.  Since the author was from the coast of Maine, that is the locale she and the illustrator had in mind when this book was written, and that is exactly where these seaside scenes look like.

2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – The pictures do a great job of following the storyline.

3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.”-  The greens, blues, and browns make these illustrations perfect for this ocean-themed book.

4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – The setting and theme are very clear, but the plot and characters seem less evident.

5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – My children like this book and particularly enjoy learning more about sea life that we do not get opportunities to see in western Kansas.

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Timothy Turtle – 1947 Caldecott Honor Book

Timothy TurtleTimothy Turtle, a 1947 Caldecott Honor Book, was written by Al Graham and illustrated by Tony Palazzo.  Timothy, the successful owner of a ferry landing, yearns for fame and excitement.  When his friends encourage his desire for adventure he sets out to climb a nearby hill – a daunting quest for a turtle.  Upon his journey a rock falls on him and causes him to land on his back.  After much concern and movement he is able to flip upright and begins to make his way home.  When he reaches the bottom of the hill, he is greeted by his friends who are cheering for him.  He realizes that he really is content with his peaceful life on the river.

 

Caldecott Criteria:

1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” – The ink line drawings with chalk background of blue and peach on alternating pages are amazingly detailed.  The lines on the turtle’s back, the duck’s feathers, and the pine tree were particularly interesting to look at.

2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – The story is easy to follow through the pictures.

3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.”-  These illustrations are exactly as I would imagine a turtle might see in the world around him from his perspective.

4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – All of the characters, setting, and plot were easy to understand through the illustrations.

5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – My children liked the pictures in this book as well as the overall story, but some of the old-fashioned language was difficult for all of us to follow.

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Sing in Praise – 1947 Caldecott Honor Book

Sing in PraiseSing in Praise, a collection of 25 hymns and accompanying stories written by Opal Wheeler and illustrated by Marjorie Torrey, received a Caldecott Honor award in 1947.  This lesser-known book was difficult to find, even with interlibrary loan services.  Each story is in some way related to the writing of the hymn, its author, or the meaning of the words.

Caldecott Criteria:

1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” – These lovely, old-fashioned pictures, some in watercolors and some pencil sketches, have clear lines and a relaxing quality.

2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – Each hymn has its own illustration relating in some way to the theme of the song.

3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.”–  These old-fashioned illustrations this seem appropriate, as all of these beloved Christian songs have been sung by congregations for over a century.

4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – There is no ongoing plot, but the theme of each hymn does relate in some way to each picture.

5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – While these are lovely pictures, I believe that modern-day children may find many of them difficult to relate to in the world with which they are familiar.

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When I Was Young in the Mountains – Part 2

Recently I reviewed When I Was Young in the Mountains, written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Diane Goode as a recommended read.  (See that post at https://littlebooksontheprairie.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/when-i-was-young-in-the-mountains-by-cynthia-rylant/)  This book was nominated as a Caldecott Honor Book in 1983, so I would like to now review it from the aspect of the illustrations.

 

Caldecott Criteria:

1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” – This book has lovely watercolor illustrations.  The details, especially in the faces of the grandparents, are remarkable.

2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – The family scenes are poignant, but it lacks the majestic mountainous scenes I would expect from the title.

3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.”-  Other than the missing mountains, these pictures easily remind me of times spent in the Appalachian Mountains.  The love that the grandparents and children have for each other is very evident.

4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – The overall plot could be missed by just looking at the pictures, but the theme, characters, and setting are well-detailed.  The mood, however, is a bit confusing as it seems that the children are frequently pictured as sad, but the text only refers to happiness.

5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – While my children enjoyed this book, I do not think it was due to the illustrations.

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When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant

When I Was Young in the MountainsOne of my earliest memories at a library was hearing When I Was Young in the Mountains, written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Diane Goode, read during preschool storytime.  The story itself did not make enough of an impression on me at the time that I remembered it well, but the picture on the cover of the brother and sister with their brown dog looking over a mountain scene is something I have not forgotten over 25 years later.  In reading this book to my children I realized there were probably several reasons why I did not retain the content of this story, but feel that this can be different for my kids.  First, the children in this book live with their grandparents and have a very close relationship with them which is something with which I could not relate to at that young age.  Second, several topics, such as coal mining, the use of an out-house, and being baptized in a muddy pond, required more detailed explanations to young children than would be practical for a larger group of children.  Finally, the thought of having a dead snake slung around the necks of 4 children for a picture is repulsing to me even to this day.  In short, I still squeal at the sight of even the smallest snake.  I hope that I was able to overcome some of these obstacles with my children so that they will be have more detailed memories of this book and may want to share it with their own children years from now.

Pros: A great conversation starter about life in other cultures and times in the United States.  A sweet look at family love.

Cons: If you have a fear of snakes, take a deep breath about the middle of the book.

Age Range: 4-9

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