Tag Archives: 1944

Many Moons – 1944 Caldecott Medal

Many Moons, by James Thurber, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin and awarded the 1944 Caldecott Medal, is set in a royal court where the princess is sick.  She tells her kingly father that if she can have the moon she will be well.  In his desperation to help his daughter get well he calls the Lord High Chamberlain, the Royal Wizard, and the Royal Mathematician who are all unable to produce the object the king requires.  Finally he sadly calls the Court Jester who questions the little princess about her understanding of the moon and is able to bring her a small golden sphere on a chain which she believes is the moon.  The next day the girl is better, but the king again becomes concerned as he realizes the moon will rise again and the princess’s poor condition will return as she sees that she does not have the real moon.  Again the royal advisors are questioned to no avail, but, happily, the Court Jester saves the day by questioning the princess as before.  All is well when it is realized that the princess believes that the moon regenerates every night.

Caldecott Criteria:

1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” This artwork of water colorand ink is very interesting, but somewhat abstract on some pages.  I would definitely say the quality of the illustrations varies greatly among the pages.

2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – Although these pictures are more abstract that I would prefer for a picture book, the storyline can be followed pictorially.

3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.”-  Very whimsical pictures do seem to fit the theme and concept well.

4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – The plot, characters, and setting are clear throughout the book.  I particularly liked the scenes in the bedroom of the princess.  Her giant bed is regally larger than life!

5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – My older daughter enjoyed this book, but my second child did not.  I believe this was because she could not clearly make out any of the images in the pictures.

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Pierre Pidgeon – 1944 Caldecott Honor Book

Pierre Pidgeon by Lee Kingman with pictures by Arnold Edwin Bare, recipient of a 1944 Caldecott Honor Book award, tells the story of a little boy who lives by the sea and is intrigued by building model ships.  He sees a ship in a bottle in town, but does not have enough money to buy the fascinating item.  Soon he meets an artist by the sea who paints his picture while he keeps her safe from a bull and is paid in return.  He quickly purchases the ship in a bottle, but it is broken in an accident, making his entire family very sad.  When his father offers him an empty bottle like the one he had bought he realizes how the ship was originally put into the bottle and is able to recreate this decoration.

Caldecott Criteria:

1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” – Subtle hues of green, peach, grey and black in tempera medium evoke an Old-World, French look.  The figures, especially the ox, are quite different from anything I have seen before in a picture book.

2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – The pictures do augment the story, but they could not stand alone for this story.

3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.”-  Given the clear explanation of the setting and time for this story, the illustration style is very appropriate for the story.

4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – All of these characteristics are well-met except for the mood.  There are many missed opportunities for the pictorial expression of happiness and sadness.

5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – My girls did enjoy this story, but I think that in a couple of years I will check this book out again to read to my son.  This would make a great book for a father to read to his little boy.

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The Good-Luck Horse – 1944 Caldecott Honor Book

The Good-Luck Horse is a Chinese legend retold by Chih-Yi Chan and illustrated by her twelve-year old son, Plato Chan that was a 1944 Caldecott Honor book.  The main character, a young boy named Wah-Toong, wants a horse, so he cuts one out of paper, imagining it to be exactly as the horse he wants, but this paper flys over a wall to a nearby Magician who makes the horse come to life and grow.  The boy and the horse love each other, but the the horse, Good-Luck, manages to get into trouble and is renamed Bad-Luck Horse.  Even though he is able to right his wrongs, the horse is lonely and afraid of causing problems again, so he runs away and marries another horse of bad fortune.  They return to the stallion’s former home and again cause problems, but are able to save the day.  Eventually, the horse is able to help avert a war and thus is called the Good-Luck Horse forever.

Caldecott Criteria:

1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” For a young illustrator, the technique in these pictures is well-developed.  The pencil or pen drawings with green and orange fill-in only on every other page is certainly different than other books and interesting.

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

3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.” – The decidedly ancient Chinese appearance of the characters and setting make this story seem like thelegend that it is, but the pleasant story-book horse seems a bit out of place.

4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – The plot, setting, moods, and characters are all very clear through the pictures.  It is funny that, when the horse finds his wife-to-be, even the horses have a flirtatious look in their eyes.

5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – My children enjoyed this book, but I found that they were not as engaged by the pictures as by the fanciful storyline.

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The Mighty Hunter – 1944 Caldecott Honor Book


The Mighty Hunter by Berta and Elmer Hader has received harsh criticism for being overtly stereo-typical of Native American culture, but I found this book to be a delightful story using a little boy’s imagination to convince him of his need to go to school.  Yes, the little boy is dressed in traditional Indian garb and hunting with a bow and arrow, but those were typical characteristics for children of his culture in the time period the book was intended to be taking place.  I particularly enjoyed how the boy’s imagination runs wild as he starts by hunting a small rat and eventually finds himself facing a big bear with only his bow and arrow.

Caldecott Criteria:

1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.”  The mixture of watercolor paintings and black and white pencil are amazingly detailed.  The size scales and shading are superb!

2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – The little boy dressed in traditional Native American clothes, along with the desert nature scenes, help this story come alive.

3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.” – While others may believe this book is stereo-typical, I think these illustrations are very close to what I have seen in photographs of how life really was for this culture.

4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – Every picture helps the plot move toward the story’s climax.  The characters are exceptional as the little boy is well-developed visually each animal is clearly increasing in size according to the storyline.

5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – My children loved this story and even asked me to read it again.  I must say that this is one of my favorite Caldecott books thus far through this series.

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