Tag Archives: Indian

A House is a House for Me by Mary Ann Hoberman

A House is a House for Me by Mary Ann Hoberman opened up a new way of thinking for my children.  The premise of this book is that everything is a house for something else, everyone has a house of their own, and that the world is where we all belong.  Thinking of earmuffs, books, and castles all as houses was intriguing and fun.  We had a great time continuing to think of other houses and their occupants after we finished this book and during the entire family meal which followed!A House is a House for Me

Pros: A fun way to teach children to look at the same item from various perspectives.

Cons: One page discussed four types of homes used by Native Americans.  While this was interesting and something I wanted my girls to learn, I did not like how it was presented.  On the preceding page all of the home inhabitants mentioned are animals, while on the following page they are modes of transportation, and no other homes for humans are discussed other than on this page.  To me this seemed to dehumanize Native Americans.  Usually I can easily overlook this type of issue or see it as a view common in the era of the book, but not so in this case.  Still, overall, this book is worth reading and this one page could easily be skipped.

Age Range: 3-8

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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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Paddle-to-the-Sea – 1948 Caldecott Honor Book

Paddle-to-the-Sea, a 1948 Caldecott Honor Book, written and illustrated by Holling Clancy Holling, traces the travels of a wooden man in a small boat, carved by a little Indian boy, during the winter thaw, down a melting creek in Canada all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. Much can be learned of the geography and culture of the Great Lakes region by following the trail of this small creation.
Caldecott Criteria:

1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” – Although these illustrations are colorful, they are certainly not my favorite pictures of all of the Caldecott books. Since each object has less-defined edges, these pictures appear somewhat blurry and are confusing for those with visual impairments.

2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – Since this book encompasses a huge variety of locations and various scenes, each picture is very different from the last and does a good job of telling the continued story.

3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.” – While the overall watery theme is well-depicted, I felt that the sub-themes such as the Indian culture, manufacturing locations, lumberjacking practices, and fishing as a profession could have been more clearly illustrated.

4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – I liked how Paddle took shape as a distinct character at the beginning of the book. The theme and ever-changing setting fit the storyline well, but the mood was unclear.

5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – As with some other books, I would suggest spreading out the reading of this one over several sittings, especially with younger children. While we enjoyed the book, it did get tedious and was more difficult to understand for my 5-year old. I believe this book may be more enjoyable for a slightly older child. Many of the illustrations required extensive explanation, but of course, that was great for teaching purposes.

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