Friday, March 15, 2013

Favorite Caldecott books this week

My friend and colleague, Alex, tells me that our library does indeed have every Caldecott winner.   Good news as I continue the goal of reading all of them.

Turns out, the next two winners are in our collection at home.  When the kids ran out of room in their bookshelves (Emma has 3 bookcases in her room - along with piles and piles of books all over the place.  Brian has one bookcase - he is ruthless in weeding his books - no attachment to them at all), I bought a bookcase for my room and moved all the picture books there.

There is a system to this madness.  The first two shelves are alphabetical by author.  The third shelf is full of random non-picture adult books.  The 4th shelf is all the signed books or books given and inscribed by friends and family.  The first 1/3 of the 4th shelf has all books that have a character named "Emma".  Every Christmas, my Emma gets a book about an Emma.

 That 4th shelf represents 16 years of attending ALA and getting books signed by authors to Emma and Brian - often there is an illustration with the signature.  Some authors represented on that shelf are Judy Sierra, Simms Taback, Peter Sis, David Shannon, Paul Zelinsky, Richard Peck, Jon Scieszka and Tomie DePaola.  I don't think my kids realize what a collection of signed books they have.

The last shelf are again random books with some of my old favorites thrown in.  In that first row are a series of books called "Companion Library".  Two stories in one book - you finish the first story, then turn the book over and upside down and read the next story.  Over several years, my grandmother gave these to me as presents.  They were published in the early 60's by Grosset and Dunlop.  I loved these books and read them over and over.

 Behind these books, on that shelf are my Nancy Drews.  I LOVED Nancy Drew.  I wanted to be Nancy Drew. I devoured these books.  I wanted best friends like Bess and George.

Another favorite book I read over and over and over is on this shelf.  It was given to me by my 2nd grade teacher (whose name I can't remember at the moment).  I lived in Bristol, CT and attended Mary Callen Elementary School.  That school is no longer but the book remains.  From Sea to Sea.  It's a collection of stories about children.  It was published in 1945 by the Silver Burdett Company.  

Anyhoo, back to the Caldecott books.  In 1942, Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey won.  Who doesn't love this book?  This is one I have in our home collection and it was given to Emma by Auntie No No and Uncle John in 1998.  It must have been a gift for her first birthday.   Auntie No No is really Auntie Finola but Emma wasn't able to pronounce Finola when she was little.

I was living in Boston when the first set of ducklings were installed in the Public Garden and I have brought my kids to see them and crawl all over them.

In 1943, The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton won the medal.  I did not read this book when I was young but I did read and love Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by the same author.  I loved a TV show called Captain Kangaroo when I was young and he always read a book with Mr. Greenjeans on his show.  Mike Mulligan was a favorite of Captain Kangaroo.  As an aside, I always thought it would be fun to put together a bibliography of all the books that were read on that show - I would have to track down where the episodes are.  Back to Virginia - the Little House is also in our home collection and I adore this book.  The story, the illustrations, everything.

In 1944, Many Moons won the award.  Its story is by James Thurber and its illustrated by Louis Slobodkin.  This book I never heard of and checked it out of the library.  Like the d'Aulaires,  something in my brain tickled about the illustrator.    He illustrated A Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes which we read in my mother/daughter book group many years ago.  I also thought of the book Caps for Sale by  Esphyr Slobodkina.  No relation but weird they were working at the same time and had such similar names.

This is really a lovely book about a princess, her father the king, his wise men and a jester.  The princess wants to hold the moon in her hand and no one but the jester is able to help her attain this wish.

It's been fun reading all these books.  Only 7 more decades of books to go!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Caldecott Medal winners

The nice thing about working in a library is you can have new journals routed to you to read first.  Even though I don't really choose books for the kids anymore, I still like to read Horn Book.  It's a magazine for those who collect Children's literature but it's more than just book reviews.  There are wonderful articles to read.  The last issue had an article about the book Mei Li by Thomas Handforth.  This book won the Caldecott Medal in 1939 and the article goes on to explain how it was the first book that featured illustrations on their own - not just incidental to the text.  (The 1938 winner was Animals of the Bible by Dorothy P Lathrop).  My library owned the book so I took a look and then decided I wanted to see all the Caldecott medal winners.   (I need to ask Alex, the overlord of the children's collection if we own all the medal books - if so, how convenient for me).

In 1940, Abraham Lincoln by Ingri & Edgar Parin d'Aulaire won the medal.  I am horrible with remembering authors and book titles but when I saw these authors, something clicked in my head.

The illustrations were familiar and then it hit me.  Greek Myths!  Norse Mythology!

My kids devoured D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths

This was back when Rick Riordan's series about Percy Jackson was first coming out.  Emma and Brian read those series and then wanted more.  They are experts on Greek Mythology.

Next up was D'Aulaire's Book of Norse Mythology

These are wonderful books.  I need to pull them out of the shelves and re-read them.

Turns out, there is a Facebook page called d'Aulaire's Children's Books.  I don't know who maintains this page but it's full of illustrations of books and pictures of the couple in their studio.  Wonderful.

The next Caldecott Medal book (1941)  is They Were Strong and Good by Robert Lawson, who also illustrated  Ferdinand the Bull.  It's a story about Lawson's parents and grandparents - being used to the colorful picture books of today, this is a bit of a let down but I am no judge.  I am certainly having fun looking at these book.