Friday, January 22, 2010

134-136 (2010 #s 9-11). 2010 Caldecott Winners

Here are the three books that were honored by the American Library Association on January 18 as the Caldecott Medalist and Honor Books, awards given to the artists of the most distinguished American picture books for children:
The Lion & the Mouse, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, is a wordless retelling of Aesop's fable. The only words in the book are the onomatopoeia for the sounds that the pictured animals might make. The story is also told through the animals' very expressive faces. There is no title on the wraparound book jacket, except on the spine. In an artist's note at the end, Pinkney says the setting is the African Serengeti and the earthy colors reflect that. The book is warm and inviting. Pinkney used pencil, watercolor, and colored pencils on paper. Pinkney had an Honor Book in 2003 for Noah's Ark, in 2000 for The Ugly Duckling, in 1995 for John Henry, in 1990 for The Talking Eggs, and in 1989 for Mirandy and Brother Wind. This top prize was long overdue.

All the World was written by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Marla Frazee. This was Frazee's second Honor Book in a row; she was recognized last year for A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever. Frazee used black Prismacolor pencil, soft watercolors, and hand-lettering to bring to life Austin resident Scanlon's rhyming couplets that celebrate our similarities. I wasn't particularly wowed by either the poetry or the illustrations. I would have liked to see Susan Roth honored for her textured collages in Listen to the Wind.

Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors is also a book of poetry, unrhymed free-verse on the four seasons by Joyce Sidman. This is illustrator Pamela Zagarenski's first recognition as a Caldecott Honor Book. She used mixed-media paintings on wood, and computer illustration.

Zagarenski clarifies Sidman's sometimes-vague imagery for children. For example, "Red squirms on the road after rain" are earthworms. "In spring, Yellow and Purple hold hands. They beam at each other with bright velvet faces. First flowers, first friends" are pansies. "And here, in secret places, peeps Pink: hairless, featherless, the color of new things" are baby birds. In summer, "Red darts, jags, hovers; a blur of wings, a secret throat" are hummingbirds, while "Red whispers along my finger with little beetle feet" are ladybugs. "In the summer night, Gray waits by the porch light, sticky webbed toes against window screens, belly pale and soft. Such a long tongue" is a frog. In fall, "Brown gleams in my hand: a tiny round house, dolloped with roof" is an acorn. "Red swells on branches bent low: Red: crisp, juicy, crunch!" are apples. "Orange ripens in full, heavy moons, thick with pulp and seed" are pumpkins. "White whispers, floats, clumps, traces its wet finger on branches and stumps" is snow.

In these ways, Zagarenski's illustrations are integral to the book, but I found her people, with their large conical clothing and their crowns (and the crowned dog), very distracting.

[These books were borrowed from my university and the local public libraries, and go back tomorrow.]

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