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Archive for the ‘Mock Caldecott 2011’ Category

Chalk, written and illustrated by Bill Thomson

August 7, 2010 Leave a comment

Publication Date:
March, 2010

Reviewed For:
Ages 4-8

Journal Review / Summary
SLJ – This stunningly illustrated wordless picture book tells the story of three children who find a bag of magical chalk at the playground on a rainy day. Their drawings come to life, which seems great when a drawing of the sun stops the rain, but is scary when a dinosaur stalks them. A drawing of a rain cloud inside a play tube brings the rain back and dissolves the frightening creature. This imaginative story is the perfect showcase for Thomson’s extraordinary pictures. Though they look like photos or computer-generated images, each one is actually composed using traditional techniques with acrylics and colored pencils. The artist’s clever use of light, perspective, and expression, along with the protagonists’ neat solution to their dilemma, creates a completely satisfying experience. Thomson is a master at visual storytelling.

Illustration Medium:
Acrylic and colored-pencil

Execution in the artistic technique employed:
It’s absolutely incredible.  I seriously thought it was all digitally rendered, and therefore wasn’t all that impressed with it.  But the vibrancy of each illustration and the realistic images make this book larger than life. (Har har. Get it? Because it’s about a dinosaur?)

Appropriateness of style of illustration to story, theme, and concept:
I think the realism of the images makes the story much stronger than it would have been if it was done in childish cartoons, or a less realistic way… it would have taken the serious tone away from the book (though it would have been a lot less scary.)

Delineation/interpretation of a plot through illustration:
Wonderfully done with no words to accompany the illustrations.

Delineation/interpretation of a theme or concept through illustration:
The magic of the story (shown through the bag of chalk held by the spring dinosaur) is well shown throughout each page – whether or not the bag of chalk is present.

Delineation of characters through illustration:
Some of the characters’ faces are a little creepy, and they look very old for what I think their ages are.

Delineation of setting through illustration:
Realistic playground.

Delineation of mood through illustration:
Imaginative & hopeful.

Delineation of information through illustration:
N/A

Concluding Caldecott Thoughts:
YES.

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Roly Poly Pangolin written and illustrated by Anna Dewdney

July 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Publication Date:
March 9, 2010

Reviewed For:
Ages 4-8

Journal Review / Summary
Very few children will know what a pangolin is, especially preschoolers, but this scaly baby animal evidently has many of the same fears as little kids. In large type and rhyming sentences, listeners are told how Roly Poly is scared of new things, like something that might bite, bugs for dinner, playing with strange animals, and monster sounds. So Roly Poly does what pangolins do: he rolls up into a ball. When he peeks out, he sees another ball peeking back! He has found a friend. “Roly Poly, very small, / feeling better, feeling tall. / So much to see, so much to do . . . / So much nicer when it’s two!” The scaly creatures are playfully but accurately illustrated, with the addition of expressive faces to reflect emotions. An author’s note explains that pangolins are an endangered species and makes a plea for readers to visit her Web site to learn how to help. Book proceeds will go to Cuc Phuong National Park, in Vietnam, where research is being conducted. – Booklist

Illustration Medium:
oil paints with some oil pastel, plus a bit of colored pencil.  The paintings are on canvas

Execution in the artistic technique employed:
I love Anna Dewdney’s art.

Appropriateness of style of illustration to story, theme, and concept:
Whimsical and expressive.

Delineation/interpretation of a plot through illustration:
Roly Poly peeking out of his ball to see a new friend? Priceless & adorable.

Delineation/interpretation of a theme or concept through illustration:
Great for discussing different social aspects – being shy, scared, worried to try new things – all emotions shown on Roly Poly Pangolin’s face. His expressions are excellent!

Delineation of characters through illustration:
I love Roly Poly pangolin.  He is so cute!

Delineation of setting through illustration:
Setting is very basic.

Delineation of mood through illustration:
Worried and scared Roly Poly pangolin is adorable.

Delineation of information through illustration:
Though the story doesn’t tell about pangolins, the information at the back of the book is wonderful for anyone who doesn’t know about the animal.

Concluding Caldecott Thoughts:
Initial no, but I’m leaning toward a maybe now.

LMNO Peas written and illustrated by Keith Baker

July 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Publication Date: April 2010

Reviewed For: Pre-K – Grade 1

Journal Review / Summary
Humble green peas provide inspiration in this hilarious, occupation-based romp through the alphabet. Four-inch-high letters on each page serve as an ingenious architectural platform around, above, and inside of which dozens of “pea-ple” swarm in joyful pursuit of myriad types of work. Bouncy, rhyming text introduces the alphabet peas as “acrobats, artists, and astronauts in space, builders, bathers, and bikers in a race,” with unpaid “voters and volunteers” receiving their due, too. Baker’s inventive details belie the “as alike as two peas in a pod” adage; each and every amusing personalized pea is as unique as a snowflake—and that’s the point. The digitally rendered illustrations glow in vibrant, textured colors that boldly leap off the page against a background of ample white space. The sheer fun of the rhythmic text and the large alphabet letters work well for a read-aloud audience, but the busy, engaging details of the peas in their various worker modes are better suited for one-on-one exploration that young children will want to pore over again and again.—SLJ

Illustration Medium:
Digitally rendered.

Execution in the artistic technique employed:
Not particularly impressive to me as digital artwork

Appropriateness of style of illustration to story, theme, and concept:
Colorful and cheerful, which reflects the adorableness of the images chosen for each letter.

Delineation/interpretation of a plot through illustration:
Not much plot – but well-chosen professions and activities for each letter.

Delineation/interpretation of a theme or concept through illustration:
Peas! So cute.  The idea of being whoever you want to be is well shown in the book.

Delineation of characters through illustration:
The peas each are very unique, even though there are many of them, which is impressive to me since they are so small and basic.

Delineation of setting through illustration:
Excellent use of the large letters in integrating the activities/professions.

Delineation of mood through illustration:
Unique, fun – well done.

Delineation of information through illustration:
Creative picks for the less common letters (Quilters, Quarterbacks, Underwater divers, Volunteers, X-Ray doctors, Yogis in a pose, Zoologists)

Concluding Caldecott Thoughts:
At first, thought no – but now I’m on board!

Cloud Tea Monkeys written by Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham; Illustrated by Juan Wijngaard

July 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Publication Date: February 23, 2010

Reviewed For: K – 3

Journal Review / Summary
Tashi’s mother labors on a tea plantation in the shadow of the Himalayas. One day she is too ill to get out of bed. Tashi knows that without her day’s wages, they won’t have money for a doctor, but without medical care her mother won’t get well enough to work. “The problem went around and around. It was like a snake with its tail in its mouth, and Tashi was frightened by it.” The child tries to pick tea herself, but she is too small to reach the tops of the plants where the tender new leaves grow. She retreats in tears, only to be comforted by a troop of monkeys she has befriended. And then the magical element of the story emerges: the monkeys climb into the mountains and pick the rarest and most sought-after tea leaves in the world. The Royal Tea Taster samples the leaves in Tashi’s basket and pays her a handsome sum, with the promise of more in the future. This story, inspired by tales of tea-picking monkeys of the Himalayas, would be merely pleasant were it not for Wijngaard’s expressive, richly detailed ink-and-gouache illustrations. Tashi’s solemn face as she comforts her bedridden mother, the dynamic depictions of the Tea Taster swishing tea and spitting out a mouthful, the play of light through the branches under which the monkeys eat fruit, and even the delicate tracery of a decorative pattern on the bottom of each page all contribute to the thoughtful bookmaking. – SLJ

Illustration Medium: ink and gouache.

Execution in the artistic technique employed:
The technique certainly looks beautiful.

Appropriateness of style of illustration to story, theme, and concept:
The illustration style doesn’t seem to me to particularly enhance the story at all.

Delineation/interpretation of a plot through illustration:
Plot carries the illustration – the illustration often doesn’t even reflect what the words are saying – particularly evident to me on the page where the monkeys are running through the jungle – the illustration doesn’t describe everything the text does.

Delineation/interpretation of a theme or concept through illustration:
Somewhat hopeful and imaginative… but not in a Caldecott worthy way.

Delineation of characters through illustration:
Unimpressive.

Delineation of setting through illustration:
Beautiful scenes.

Delineation of mood through illustration:
Mood doesn’t really change based on the illustration.

Delineation of information through illustration:
N/A.

Additional Things I Liked:
I really like the title page.

Concluding Caldecott Thoughts:
No, probably not.

The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah written by Leslie Kimmelman and Illustrated by Paul Meisel

July 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Publication Date: March 1, 2010

Reviewed For: PreSchool-Grade 3

Journal Review / Summary
This Yiddish-inflected retelling of “The Little Ren Hen” features a balabusta (good homemaker) who kvetches about her lazy no-goodnik friends who will not help her make matzah from wheat. When they show up at the Passover Seder, the hen scolds, “What chutzpah!” Ultimately, however, they repent and the hen forgives them because she is a mensch. All ends happily as they make up for their earlier bad behavior by doing the dishes. The droll ink, watercolor, and pastel cartoon illustrations have a friendly charm that makes a nice contrast with the story’s wry humor. The Yiddish vocabulary and speech patterns will have Jewish adults rolling in the aisles, and children will enjoy the merging of familiar Passover and folktale elements. It’s entertaining to those in the know, but readers unfamiliar with the holiday may be mystified by the humor, and they will gain little understanding of the traditions of Passover. An endnote on the holiday’s history, a matzah recipe, and a glossary round out the package, but the book should be used in combination with more traditional tales or with audiences who already observe Passover. It’s a must for Judaica collections and a solid choice for large general collections. – SLJ

Illustration Medium: ink, watercolor, and pastel.

Execution in the artistic technique employed:
I wasn’t overly impressed.

Appropriateness of style of illustration to story, theme, and concept:
Don’t see any special connection here.

Delineation/interpretation of a plot through illustration:
Illustration depends on plot.

Delineation/interpretation of a theme or concept through illustration:
Meh.

Delineation of characters through illustration:
I didn’t like any of the characters.

Delineation of setting through illustration:
Mediocre farm.

Delineation of mood through illustration:
I thought it was kind of rude.

Delineation of information through illustration:
N/A

Concluding Caldecott Thoughts:
Nooo.

Bridget’s Beret by Tom Lichtenheld

July 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Publication Date:
April 27, 2010

Reviewed For:
K-Grade 3

Journal Review / Summary
Bridget loves to draw, but she needs her black artist’s beret as her muse. One day as she is outdoors working, it flies off into the wind, and she believes that her inspiration has flown with it. Other hats don’t help and she stops drawing. But when her little sister begs her to make a sign for a lemonade stand, Bridget agrees. Once she starts painting, she finds that the art was inside her all along; in fact, her new paintings are more sophisticated and draw on the works of recognizable artists. Lichtenheld’s ink, colored pencil, and watercolor cartoon illustrations, heavy on line and filled with childlike drawings, add humor and character to the story. Combined with Peter Reynolds’s The Dot (2003) and Ish (2004, both Candlewick), the ideas for inspiration that are included in the back matter would work well for a lesson on artistic expression. – SLJ

Illustration Medium:
Ink, colored pencil, watercolor, and sidewalk chalk on 80-pound Strathmore Aquarius watercolor paper.

Execution in the artistic technique employed:
It’s difficult to tell which parts of the book are done in which medium, which I would imagine is evidence of skill.

Appropriateness of style of illustration to story, theme, and concept:
The illustration style is childlike but still sophisticated, which I think perfectly matches Bridget and her dedication to art (and her beret).

Delineation/interpretation of a plot through illustration:
I don’t really think that the plot is carried fully by the illustration, but

Delineation/interpretation of a theme or concept through illustration:
Well done.

Delineation of characters through illustration:
I love Bridget’s drawing face, with her tongue stuck out.

Delineation of setting through illustration:
I love the park that Bridget draws in – the grass looks so perfect.

Delineation of mood through illustration:
After Bridget’s beret blows away, I expected the drawings to get a little bit darker and depressing, to reflect Bridget’s artistic upset – but the hectic double page spread of Bridget trying to find a new hat seems to have captured that for me.

Delineation of information through illustration:
I love the lemonade signs, where Bridget incorporates famous works of art into her advertisements.

Concluding Caldecott Thoughts:
Maybe.

Black Elk’s Vision written and illustated by S. D. Nelson

July 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Publication Date: March 2010
Reviewed For: Grades 3 – 6

Journal Review / Summary
Born in 1863, Black Elk, an Oglala-Lakota medicine man, was warned from an early age to beware the “Wha-shi-choo,” or white people, and for good reason. By the time he was 16, his people had been attacked on their lands, fought at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, and been confined to grim reservations, their way of life forever changed. Told in a first-person narrative, this handsome biography is adorned with vibrant acrylic paintings that depict the mystical images (spirit voices and visions) that Black Elk first experienced as a child. A fever vision at age nine, in which he met with the six grandfathers, the ancestral beings, proved to be a pivotal experience for him. As a teenager, he ultimately led a Horse Dance ceremony in which he brought a message of hope and instruction to his people. In addition to his respected tribal status, his involvement in many landmark events, from his travels with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show to being injured at the Wounded Knee massacre, makes him a unique historical figure. Aptly chosen photographs (some of which are graphic images of buffalo carcasses and a scene of a mass grave at Wounded Knee) provide accurate historical perspective. An author’s note on understanding his Great Vision and background information on the book are included. This is an important contribution to Native biography. – SLJ

Illustration Medium: paintings, line drawings, photography
Execution in the artistic technique employed: Two thumbs up.

Appropriateness of style of illustration to story, theme, and concept:
Native American painting/drawing style obviously very appropriate, but the photos seem randomly inserted (though they are really cool.)

Delineation/interpretation of a plot through illustration:
The plot doesn’t seem to move much through the illustration – the text does all of that work.

Delineation/interpretation of a theme or concept through illustration:
The consistency of showing the theme and concept through the illustrations is wavery – probably because of the photos throw in at random.  The drawings are great though, I continue to say.

Delineation of characters through illustration:
Well done through the photography – the line drawings and paintings… not so much.

Delineation of setting through illustration:
The dream settings are great.

Delineation of mood through illustration:
I’m not getting too much of a mood through the illustration or the photographs (though the photos are very glum.)

Delineation of information through illustration:
Photos show a lot of information, and the illustration style definitely captures my idea of Native American artistic style (what I know of it from reading a lot about Native American culture as a kid).

Concluding Caldecott Thoughts:
I don’t think this quite fits the bill, though this is a great biography.

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