Timothy 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.
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.
Summary: Blaze and Thunderbolt from the Billy and Blaze series by C.W. Anderson has long been one of my favorite books. What little girl doesn’t like a horse story? What little boy doesn’t like a cowboy story? Billy and Blaze befriend Thunderbolt, the last of the wild horses, while vacationing on a ranch in the West. From the first time Billy sees Thunderbolt escaping from cowboys who are trying to capture him until he is finally able to ride the horse and call him his own, the boy is intrigued by the magnificent animal.
Pros: Throughout the story Billy learns the importance of perseverance and gentleness as he befriends this wild horse.
Cons: Since we live in town, I hope my children don’t get the idea that they will get a horse for a pet.
Age Range: 3-8
4 of 5
Summary: Bear Feels Scared written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jane Chapman can soothe and calm many childhood fears. Bear is walking through a forest when he starts to feel scared as he realizes he is all alone and hears noises that are unfamiliar. When he finds his friends, he is reassured, feels safe, and is able to calmly sleep.
Pros: Once again, I love Jane Chapman’s illustrations and her pointed use of light. A funway to teach children that when they are scared, they are not alone. This might also be a good conversation starter with preschoolers about self-calming techniques.
Cons: Hopefully it would not introduce new fears in children that don’t usually experience being scared.
Age Range: 2-7
4 of 5
Summary: Books by Eric Carle are sure to please children and parents alike. The simple stories and colorful illustrations make for a book that will be read over and over. The Very Busy Spider tells the story of a spider who is so busy spinning her web that she doesn’t even answer when her friends invite her to do things with them. In the end she gets the treat she has been working toward.
Pros: I love that children can actually feel the structure of the web thanks to raised lines on the paper. Another great book for reviewing animal sounds.
Cons: It was a bit disconcerting to me that the spider never even acknowledged her friends.
Age Range: 1-6
4 or 5
Summary: Reading the bios of both the author and illustrator of The Dark, Dark Night made me wish I could meet them. The lives of author M. Christina Butler and illustrator Jane Chapman seem so similar to those of every day moms, and their story was so likeable, that I am sure we could hit it off easily. The story is of five animal friends who band together for support as they encounter the “Pond Monster” (aka – their shadows). Their support for one another makes the story a success. The illustrations are filled with bright, jewel-like colors, yet portray the nighttime scene effectively.
Pros: A fun story to teach children the lesson that things are not always what they seem, as well as the value of supportive friendships. The illustrations are generous in size, filled with detail and beautiful colors.
Cons: The book could be slightly scary for very young children, but this could be used as a conversation starter to help allay fears of the dark.
Age Range: 2-8
5 of 5!
Summary: Mr. Murry and Thumbkin by Karma Wilson teaches the value of friendship and a balance between work and play. The two mice, who couldn’t be more different in their approaches to life, become fast friends and learn that there is value to the way they both live. The illustrations are adorable as the mice even look so completely different from each other, their appearance accurately reflecting their personalies.
Pros: Great lessons on friendship and worry vs. laziness. Superb illustrations.
Cons: I would like to have seen a more definitive change in the outlook of each of the mice as they learned from their life lessons, but I think that is inferred.
Age range: 3-9
4 of 5