Caldecott Challenge Update, #12

This is my latest check-in for the Caldecott Challenge, where I am reading all the Caldecott Medal and Honor books from 1938 to the present. Today I share my thoughts on the Caldecott years 1956 and 1957, which I found to be a mixed bag of titles to revisit and others to archive.


1956 Caldecott Medal

Frog Went-A-Courtin

Retelling by John Lanstaff and illustrations by Feodor Rojankovsky

This is a retelling of a nursery rhyme/ballad that many children will still enjoy today. Admittedly, the word play is often fun. I also enjoyed the illustrations.

Next to come in was a spotted snake,

Passing ’round the wedding cake.

1956 Caldecott Honor

Crow Boy

By Taro Yashima


The llustrations, while surely revolutionary for the era, just aren’t my style. Crow is the story of an outcast boy, who is teased and ostracized, but in the end others realize he is just very misunderstood.  It would be interesting to use this in a classroom today when talking about bullying issues.


1956 Caldecott Honor

Play With Me

By Marie Hall Ets

In this story, a young girl runs from animal to animal in an effort to find someone to play with her. This is definitely a Caldecott where I liked the story better than the illustrations, and even the story, at best, was so-so for me. I enjoyed her 1945 Caldecott Honor book, In the Forest, much more.


1957 Caldecott Medal

A Tree is Nice

Illustrated by Marc Simont and written by Janice Udry


I liked this one a lot, especially the skinny, tall format of the book design. It profiles what we enjoy about trees and what they provide us both emotionally and physically. It would be great paired with A Leaf Can Be . . .  by Laura Purdie Salas.


1957 Honor


Illustrated by Paul Galdone and written by Eve Titus


I thought this was very cute and it reminded me a lot of the movie Ratatouille. Anatole, a mouse with refined taste, goes out to get food for his family and provides some human cheese makers with some anonymous feedback in the process. It includes some great vocabulary and a few French phrases.


1957 Caldecott Honor

Gillespie and the Guards

Illustrated by James Daugherty and written by Benjamin Elkin

I’m not the biggest fan of the coloration Daugherty uses in his illustrations (Daniel Boone and Andy and the Lion) which are heavy on the brown and gold tones, but I did enjoy this tale of a clever boy outwitting the grown ups.


1957 Caldecott Honor


By William Pene Du Bois

I found this one to be very odd. Angels are creating the animals, and as artisans they go through many iterations to get the lion and its features “just right’. Some of the pictures were pretty bizarre.


Until next time, find all these books reviewed over at my Goodreads Caldecott bookshelf. You can also follow along in the Caldecott 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.


3 comments on “Caldecott Challenge Update, #12

  1. I was wondering what the hash tag was for this challenge! We read Seashore Story by Taro yashima this morning. Bizarre story, interesting art, tho not my style. That Marie hall Ets cover is one of the ugliest I have seen! I am becoming obsessed with the authors and illustrators whose work shows up again and again on the awards list. Looking for a good book about the history of children’s lit in the mid-20th century….. enjoyed reading your post!

  2. Lorna says:

    Yes, #nerdcott! I agree that the 1950s and 1960s are an interesting time for kids lit. Let me know if you find such a book! I wonder if Anita Silvey knows of such a book. I too am not a huge Yashima fan but imagine what a buzz that style made for the time. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I’m going to start with Philip Nel’s biography of Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss and then reread Dear Genius, the collection of Ursula Nordstrom’s letters (which I read long before I had much personal or any professional interest in children’s lit–it’s wonderful!). Hopefully these books will lead me to others!

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