Many picture books have anonymous settings, but some include authentic landmarks identifying locations that can be pinpointed on a map. Traveling from west coast to east coast, several Caldecott Award books feature settings in the United States, and we can become armchair travelers through the illustrations.
With declining funding for arts education in schools1,2 and limited opportunities for school-sponsored class visits to art museums, Caldecott Award-winning picture books invite children to explore various media and styles of art deemed “distinguished.”3 Indeed, as professor of English and children’s literature specialist Philip Nel observes, “Good picture books are portable art galleries.”4 A number of Caldecott award books extend the art enrichment experience by introducing children to the lives and works of visual artists.
Trina Schart Hyman’s retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood” is a familiar one. This was Hyman’s favorite fairy tale, and as a child, she spent a whole year wearing the red cape her mother made for her. On the verso of the title page, Little Red is reading her own story featuring the cover of Hyman’s book, sucking her thumb, just as Hyman did in childhood.
The universal appeal of fairy tales is documented by the similarities of stories across countries, cultures and centuries. The “Cinderella” story alone is over 1000 years old with over 1000 varients. What makes an individual picture book version of a fairy tale unique? The illustrations. Jane Yolen (2004) states, “Many of the picture-book retellings of folktales are more about the art than the story” (p.
The typical post-World War II nuclear family was sidelined during the political and societal turmoil of the 1960s. Due to divorce, remarriage, and blended families, the 21st century has seen an increasing number of grandparents involved in their grandchildren’s lives. To celebrate Grandparents Day in September, this article examines the portrayal of grandparents and great-grandparents in selected Caldecott Medal and Honor books.
Peter McCarty doesn’t just include his dog, but also his cat in Hondo and Fabian, a 2003 Caldecott Honor book. This story describes a day in the life of his pets. Hondo goes to the beach while Fabian stays home, but both have a good time. The soft pencil illustrations of the yellow Labrador retriever and the gray tabby on the front jacket cover are matched with photographs of the real Hondo and Fabian on the back jacket flap.… more
It is almost guaranteed that children will respond favorably to animal stories, especially stories with dogs and cats. Two-thirds of American households own dogs or cats. Nineteenth century British illustrator Randolph Caldecott seemed to understand the natural affinity between children and animals. Before science documented the importance of pets in children’s lives, he included animals in most of his illustrations, and they added to the frolicking fun that animated his scenes.… more