Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Canine Caldecott Contenders?

Each year at Charlevoix Elementary School in the Library Media Center our 3rd and 4th grade students participate in a Mock Caldecott Election.  During the course of the year I review potential Caldecott nominees narrowing it down to 10 or 12.  Sometimes we actually pick the same winner as the American Library Association committee.  Criteria for selection is excellence in the artistic medium that is used, excellence in pictorial compatibility with the story, theme or concept, and will the illustrations appeal to the audience for which they were intended--children. 
Two of my favorite author/illustrators, Mo Willems and Jon J Muth , who individually have received Caldecott awards,  have collaborated to create city dog, country frog.  In this union Willems is the author using spare text that conveys the changing of the seasons as well as the deepening, timeless friendship of a dog and frog.  His word selection captures the essence of "dogginess" and "frogginess" perfectly as they share favorite activities with one another. 
Beginning with the endpapers Muth gently beckons us to pass through spring, summer, fall, winter and into spring again.  Few can match his talent with watercolor paintings that express emotions spanning the spectrum of unbridled joy, contentment, acceptance, longing, patience and unconditional love.  His trademark use of the subtle shifting of colors, attention to detail and interpretation of text through illustration are portrayed beautifully in That was spring.; That was summer; and That was fall.  In the first what could be better than a dog paddling in a pond with a frog on his head or in the second when the two are caught in a gentle rain with the frog holding a huge leaf over dog's head or in the last with dog asleep curled up on their meeting rock with frog sitting beside him reaching out his hand to touch dog's shoulder.
 I am seriously considering purchasing several of these books so I can frame some of them to hang for artwork, that is unless I can find them available for purchase elsewhere. 

Snook Alone is written by Marilyn Nelson, who has won a Newbery Honor award, a Coretta Scott King award and the Michael L. Printz Honor award.  It is illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering who is known for his illustrations in The Tale of Despereaux, Finn Throws a Fit! and The Story of Fog Belly Rat Bone.
From the cover design, to the endpapers, to the title page and throughout the body of the story watercolor illustration interprets the story of Abba Jacob, a monk, living on an island with his rat terrier, Snook.  As the story unfolds in a journal-type format the reader becomes part of this duo's daily world enjoying their lives just as much as they enjoy one another.  Detail creates a sense of presence and immediacy; the reader is there on that island seeing it through the eyes not only of the monk but his companion, Snook.  When they become separated during a storm, each on separate islands,  text and pictures combine creating a sense of tension, sadness and constant longing, love and above all else hope.  Holding this book was like holding a piece of some one's personal history; like discovering a long-hidden treasure in an attic. It is priceless. 

These two books represent what is best in books being published for our children.  They will stand the test of time being remembered and passed on from generation to generation; enjoyed by all ages.   What more can I say?  Simply put--I love them!

No comments:

Post a Comment