I was so excited a couple of months ago when the 5 Minutes for Books team announced that for the last half of this year, the Children’s Classics Challenge will focus on award-winning children’s books. I have been plotting and planning this post for a month! (Actually, I envisioned writing more than one post, that’s how pumped I was about this challenge!) It took me a while to settle on a Newbery award winner, but I finally settled on The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, and I’ve been picking up Caldecotts that we haven’t read just about every time we’ve been to the library.
And then reality struck. I’m participating in The Bible in 90 Days challenge, and my commitment to it (a WONDERFUL thing!) necessitates that other things be put aside. Oh, and I have a little baby now, too. 🙂
I’m still reading The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, but my girls and I have enjoyed a couple of new-to-us Caldecotts over the past few weeks that I’ve been saving to share. How I Learned Geography, written and illustrated by Uri Shuleviz, is one of those picture books that would work great even for “big kids.” Its text is somewhat sparse, but the author’s note at the end fleshes out a few of the details: Uri Shulevitz moved with his family from his native Poland when he was around five years old due to the impending Nazi takeover. From there, his family moved to the Soviet Union (specifically Kazakhstan) and then to Paris, France, and finally, to Israel. How I Learned Geography is the story of his family’s experiences in Central Asia–they were poor and hungry refugees, but his father knew the importance of imagination, even in their dire circumstances. One night, instead of bringing home a meager supply of bread for their supper, he brought home a map. This map provided just what the young Uri needed: a refuge from the squalor and violence that had invaded his life. He studied the map for hours and imagined all the places he could travel. Since this is a 2009 Caldecott honor book, it goes without saying that the illustrations are phenomenal. Although I am a great admirer of art, I don’t know much about it, so I can’t even identify the techniques or materials Shulevitz used to create these illustrations, but they are vibrant and colorful and detailed. I would definitely recommend this book for the school-age crowd, from early elementary and up. Highly Recommended! (For reviews of a couple of other Caldecott winners, including another book for which Uri Shulevitz won a Caldecott honor, go here.)
This next book is one that I think I might like a little more than my girls do. Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors by Joyce Sidman is one of those books that appeals to the English teacher/language lover in me. Unfortunately, my girls are not as thrilled with poetry as I am. 😉 As the title indicates, this book is all about colors and seasons. Here’s how the book begins, just to whet your appetite:
each note dropping
like a cherry
into my ear.
I think this is a completely clever image because I’d never thought of how musical notes look like cherries, but given Pamela Zagarenski‘s gorgeous illustrations, I see it now. This book is a 2010 honor book, and it’s one I’d love to own. The best way I can describe the illustrations is scrapbookish and collagey, but not in the way one might expect. For example, on the page from which I took the verse above, there is a house. The roof of the house appears to be made from the page of a bok, and the roof is lifting off the house so that redbirds can escape. Lovely. Really, it’s better seen than described–that’s what makes it art, right? This is another Highly Recommended pick!
I’m not sure how well my categories are working since I’ve moved to this self-hosted blog, but I have a Caldecott category and a Newbery category here at Hope Is the Word. (This is yet another thing on my to-do list!) Feel free to peruse at your leisure! 🙂 Oh, and for even more award-winning book posts, visit this month’s Children’s Classics challenge at 5 Minutes for Books!