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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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Little Lost Lamb – 1945 Caldecott Book

Little Lost Lamb by Golden MacDonald (an pen name for Margaret Wise Brown) and illustrated by Leonard Weisgard received a Caldecott Honor in 1945.  The storyline, easy to guess from the title, follows a young shepherd and his flock high into the mountains, where a black lamb wanders away from the flock.  As night falls, the boy tries to find the lost creature, but he must also take the other sheep to safety.  Unable to sleep, he sets out in the darkness to find the young lamb.  Before he finds his charge, his dog chases away a crouching mountain lion.  Finally, all is safe as the shepherd carries the lamb down the mountainside.
 
Caldecott Criteria:
1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” – I find the watercolor pictures in this book to be simple, but detailed enough to be very interesting.  I enjoyed the varied colors used during the daytime scenes as well as the excellent use of shading to achieve a twilight feeling for the night scenes.
 
2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – The illustrations make the story very easy to follow.
 
3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.”-  The style is exactly as I would imagine for a mountainous scene filled with sheep and trees.
 
4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – The plot, characters, and setting are made clear through the pictures.  The mood, though, could have been more obviousby the use of other facial expressions, or maybe a colorful scene at the end to portray happiness when the lamb is found.
 
5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – My children and I all enjoyed this feel-good book.

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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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My Mother is the Most Beautiful Woman in the World – 1946 Caldecott Honor Book

My Mother is the Most Beautiful Woman in the WorldBy the time we are reading this, our forty-first Caldecott book, it has become clear to me that people of the 1940’s must have been very intrigued with other cultures and countries since so many award-winning books written during that period have these common themes.  My Mother is the Most Beautiful Woman in the World, written by Becky Reyher and illustrated by Ruth Gannett, is a retelling of a Russian folktale.  In this story a little girl gets lost during a harvest-time feast.  When asked about her parents all she can say is that her mother is “the most beautiful woman in the world.”  The villagers sort through all of the gorgeous women nearby for the child’s mother, but are surprised when they find that her mother is a rather homely looking lady.  In the end, the mother tells her daughter that she is happy that her daughter sees beauty not only with her eyes, but also with her heart.

 

Caldecott Criteria:

1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” – Stippling and pointillism, a painting technique in which small, distinct dots of color are applied in patterns to form an image (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pointillism), are used throughout this book.  While I did not find these illustrations particularly beautiful, they are artistically detailed, and maybe that is the point given the storyline.

2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – While I did not find these illustrations particularly dazzling, they are artistically detailed, and maybe that is the point given the storyline.

3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.”-  A peasant Russian style is evident throughout the story.

4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – Each one of these literary aspects is clearly defined through the illustrations.

5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – When I asked my oldest daughter if she liked this book she very nostalgically replied, “Yeah, the pictures are pretty.”

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You Can Write Chinese – 1946 Caldecott Honor Book

You Can Write ChineseI would love to know more about author Kurt Wiese’s purpose for writing You Can Write Chinese, a 1946 Caldecott Honor Book.  This German-born author/illustrator led a very exciting life of travel through much of the world.  At the start of World War I, he was in China as a importer/exporter, but was captured by the Japanese, turned over to the British, and held in Australia.  He eventually made his way to Brazil and then the United States where he took up illustrating and was married.  This still does not explain the background for this story.

 

Caldecott Criteria:

1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” – While the illustrations are interesting, I would not classify these illustrations as exceptional.

2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – The pictures at the beginning of the story help to explain why these students are learning to write Chinese, but after the first few pages the reader only sees the words in Chinese.  I would have liked to reconnect visually with the students and teacher at some point later in the story.

3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.”–  While stylistically old-fashioned Chinese, these pictures are the story. 

4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – The plot is clear in the beginning, but lost after the first few pages.  The theme, characters, setting, and information are well-explained through the illustrations.  No mood is evident in this rather pedantic book.  

5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – My children did not enjoy this book.  Maybe introducing writing in another language before they have fully grasped writing English is just too much for them.

 

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Sing Mother Goose – 1946 Caldecott Honor Book

Sing Mother GooseSing Mother Goose, with music by Opal Wheeler and illustrations by Marjorie Torrey, takes the reader, or musician, through 52 common nursery rhymes.  I was pleasantly surprised that I was familiar with most of these poems, but the tunes were not those that I grew up singing along with the rhymes.  The darling illustrations in this 1946 Caldecott Honor book make this a worth-while book to check out.

 

Caldecott Criteria:

1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” – The incredible detail and use of rich, varied colors in each illustration are remarkable.

2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – Each rhyme comes to life with the help of beautiful illustrations.

3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.”-  I loved the colors chosen for each specific poem.  The sandy whites and browns for a rhyme about the seaside in comparison with pastel pinks, blues, and greens for “Curly Locks” helps the reader to remember the storylines even more.

4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – The illustrations in this book easily communicated each of these literary components. 

5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – While the musical scores were lost on my children, they did enjoy the amazing illustrations.

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