Caldecott Challenge Update, #5

A Caldecott Snapshot

  • Total Books Read to-date: 110/310
  • Stack count: 6
  • Number of Inter-library loans: 3
  • Farthest Inter-library loan: About 190 miles. Three books Roger and the Fox, Bambino the Clown, and Sing in Praise: A Collection of Best Loved Hymns came from Portland, Oregon-area libraries.
  • Oldest book: 1947 Caldecott Honor, Sing in Praise
  • Newest book: 1989 Caldecott Medal, Song and Dance Man

My thoughts on the stack:

Two of my books this time were books with sheet music. Sing in Praise, was based on religious hymns, while the other, Song of Robin Hood was based on 13th and 14th century folk ballads about Robin Hood. It’s hard to imagine such books being published today, or if so, that there would be a viable market within children’s literature for them. Continuing the trend of the era, the true storybooks from the 1940s in the stack were rather wordy.

See a side-by-side comparison of Song and Dance Man, (1989 Medal) and Bambino the Clown (1948 Honor). Which one do you think might make a young reader or listener of today get squirmy during a reading? Hmm . . . I’ve got my money on Bambino. What a difference forty years makes!

On the left 1948 Caldecott Honor "Bambino the Clown", and on the right "Song and Dance Man", 1989 Caldecott Medal

Some other memorable books from the stack . . .

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Sing in Praise: A Collection of Best Loved Hymns

illustrated by Marjorie Torrey, and music by Opal Wheeler

1947 Caldecott Honor

While I found the text, which is the stories behind the hymns, to be wordy and probably over the heads of most young readers, the illustrations had a lovely nostalgic quality to them. I’ve picked a couple of my favorite images that were rendered in full color. The young girl in braids reminds me of photos of my mother at that age.

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Song of Robin Hood

illustrated by Virginia Lee Burton with musical arrangement by Grace Castagnetta

1948 Caldecott Honor

I found Virginia Lee Burton’s illustrations to be stunning in this musical book, and would award it 5-stars on Goodreads just based on these detailed gems. But, alas the text brought it down to a 3-star rating, as it doesn’t have kid-appeal for today’s young readers. The text, which is based on ballads from hundreds of years ago, is very complex, with an old English feel to them, even though the editor describes that the verbage has been “modernized”. I confess, I tended to skip much of the text and song lyrics just to look at the lovely illustrations which were done both in pen and ink and scratchboard. If you’re fond of Burton’s other books (The Little House or Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel), I recommending finding this book just to admire her work further. The attention to detail, even on the pages with sheet music is lovely.

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Song and Dance Man

illustrated by Stephen Gammell and written by Karen Ackerman

1989 Caldecott Medal

This was a sweet story of a grandfather who is spending time with his three grandchildren and entertaining them with tales from his past as a vaudeville performer. The children are enthralled with his singing and dancing, and he is clearly delighted to have someone with which to share his memories and talents. The colored pencil illustrations have a soft pallette and the figures have adorable faces that have been caricatured just a bit to add some whimsy. I recognized Gammell’s style right away, as the images remind me of his work The Relatives Came (with Cynthia Rylant), for which he won a Caldecott Honor in 1986.

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Find all of these books reviewed over at my Goodreads Caldecott bookshelf. You can also follow along in the Newbery discussions, fondly called Nerdcott, at Twitter using the hashtag #nerdcott, or join us in the stress-free Challenge! Find out more about the challenge here in Laura’s original post or Anna’s original post.

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2 comments on “Caldecott Challenge Update, #5

  1. Hi Lorna, I am glad to have been led to your site through #nerdcott. I am in awe of the 110 books you have already managed to read [and review/feature] for the challenge. For this year, we have only reviewed 7 out of our target 24 books (at least for 2012). You’re doing such great progress, congratulations! Hopefully, we get to review more books as well.

  2. Lorna says:

    Thanks so much for your kind comment and glad #nerdcott hooked us up in the Twitterverse! The challenge has been fun, and studying the books over time has been interesting. I look forward to watching your posts and thoughts, too!

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