Tag Archives: children

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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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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The Thanksgiving Story – 1955 Caldecott Honor Book

The Thanksgiving Story written by Alice Dalgliesh and illustrated by Helen Sewell is certainly one of the better children’s books with which I am familiar that recount the story of the Pilgrims’ and Indians’ first day of giving thanks together, along with the events leading up to that famous occasion.  Historical fiction, this 1955 Caldecott Honor book follows a family with four children through this time in history.  While I love that the emphasis is on giving thanks to God, I was disappointed with an incorrect definition of “Pilgrims” early in the book.  I believe the author could have applied her definition more correctly  to the term “Puritans” and called all of the travelers, regardless of their reason for pursuing a life in America, “Pilgrims.”

 

Caldecott Criteria:

1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” – Every other page is illustrated with vibrantly colorful, simple depictions of the story.  The alternating pages are outlined with interesting, rust-colored block figures and drawings.

 2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – I appreciate that the illustrator chose to accurately picture the story, including the clothing and food.

 3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.”-  These pictures are stylistically appropriate for the era of the story.

 4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – All of these characteristics are clear through the pictures except for mood.  From what I understand of Puritan culture, though, this lack of emotional display would have been typical.

 5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – My children enjoyed this book and asked lots of questions about the story.  I would recommend this book to remind families of the true reason for our nation’s Thanksgiving holiday.

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What Should I Put on My Feet to Go Run by John McClung

Do you love to run?  Do you love shoes?  Are you, like me, a Southern girl who believes no one should wear shoes until December?  What Should I Put on My Feet to Go Run? written by John McClung and illustrated by Laura Hollingsworth tells the story of a bear cub who awakens beside his mother in their cave and immediately wants to go out to play.  When the little bear asks his mother about appropriate foot wear for the day he is told that he should go barefoot.  He asks his mother about a myriad of shoe variations, but is still his mother reminds him that he does not need shoes.  In the end they go outside together to play in their “barefoot bear feet.”  Whether you want to encourage your children to exercise or love an adorable story about cute bears, this is a great book for you.  Available for purchase this week on both Kindle  (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00A45ATEI) and in paperback (https://www.createspace.com/3946420.)  Order a copy today and enjoy reading this new release to the children in your life!  Also, check out the author’s blog at http://bfinaz.blogspot.com/.

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The Three Pigs – 2002 Caldecott Medal Book

The Three Pigs by David Wiesner , the 2002 Caldecott Medal Book, begins as a retelling of the well-known children’s story about three pigs and a big, bad wolf, but takes a very surprising turn as the wolf blows so hard that the first little pig falls right out of his storybook.  Quickly this pig invites his brothers to join him on his escape and they play with the pages of their book by folding them to avoid the wolf and making a paper airplane to fly.  They accidentally join the nursery rhyme world in “Hey Diddle Diddle,” but escape again to peruse the pages of other stories.  They briefly go into a book about a knight and dragon, leaving with the dragon in hot pursuit.  They find their original story and decide to return to the third pig’s home with the dragon in tow.  As the wolf comes to call he is, of course, very intimidated by the dragon and leaves, allowing them to all live happily ever after.  Although this book is hilarious, it requires a lot of jumping around and understanding stories from a higher level of thought, so this book is probably not appropriate until at least the later preschool years.

Caldecott Criteria:

1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.”  This book is full of very creative, colorful artwork with amazing details and shadowing.

2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – The pictures are what make this book understandable. 

3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.” – Although the little pigs are not illustrated as I would usually envision them, they fit well with this alternate telling of the story.

4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – Again, without the pictures, the plot and settings would be completely lost.  The characters are very clear and I love their various facial expressions.

5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – I read this book to my children several months ago and enjoyed it myself, but they did not “get it.”  When I read it to them today I could tell that my oldest daughter understood the sequence of events now and really enjoyed this story.

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The Story of Babar the little elephant by Jean DeBrunhoff

The Story of Babar the little elephant by Jean De Brunhoff, a classic children’s picture book first published in the 1930’s, begins the collection of tales about this loveable elephant, his family, and his kingdom.  Having read other books in this series before, I found this book helpful toward explaining many of the primary characters, as well as how Babar became the monarch of a jungle kingdom.  When Babar was a young elephant, after his mother was killed by a hunter, he ran away and found himself in a city where he was adopted by an old lady.  This benefactress refines Babar into a gentleman complete with a green suit and a car.  One day other young elephants visit him, but must return to the jungle, so Babar returns to his home with them.  At this same time, the King of the elephants dies by eating a bad mushroom and the search for a new king quickly ends when the other animals meet Babar.  Babar marries one of his young visitors to the city, they are coronated, and leave for their honeymoon.

Pros: An adorable, fanciful book that may be a good introduction to fantasy fiction for young children.

Cons: Since I am not a fan of fantasy, this book is a bit of a stretch for me.  Besides that, some topics in this book may be uncomfortable to read to young children.  The death of Babar’s mother at the hands of a hunter, the death of the King due to “bad mushrooms,” and the marriage of Babar to his cousin are all issues that may have been normal at the time the book was written, but are not easily-discussed now.

Age Range: 4-8

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Teeth Are Not for Biting by Elizabeth Verdick

Summary:  Teeth Are Not for Biting, a part of the “Best Behavior” series by Elizabeth Verdick, really has made a difference in our lives.  This book was perfect since my 2 year old has been biting me and my husband for several months.  Even though he is not very verbal, he does understand what we are reading and I could tell that was certainly the case with this book.  As I read to him he sat quietly and listened intently through the entire book, which is unusual for him.  Since we read it, he has not bitten once.  I would highly recommend this book for anyone with toddlers, but especially for those with a need to chew. (Great punch line ending!)

Pros:  Excellent resource to teach children not to bite people and how to appropriately deal with the feelings that cause children to bite.  A perfect size for toddlers to hold, this board book is exceptionally durable.

Cons:  Why didn’t I check this book out earlier!?  (Great way to close this review, Sarah!  I’m glad to know about this book, in case I ever need to advise a young mother.)

Age Range: 6 months – 3 years

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