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.
Though our focus this month is on Javaka Steptoe, we want to begin this column with another book by his father, John Steptoe, Daddy is a Monster…Sometimes. This book is narrated by two children, Bweela and Javaka, who begin, “We are Bweela and Javaka and we have a daddy. He’s a nice daddy and all, but he got somethin’ wrong with him… .”
… when dead leaves fly like witches on switches across the sky … In the center of our Wegman’s is all the stuff that is not food. Of course, I head there first. Browsing tea towels and sunflower coasters is my reward from having to shop in the too-big grocery store. Recently I found a plate among the Halloween décor.… more
I had the wonderful good fortune of hearing Melissa Sweet talk about her work last week. It was a fascinating presentation about her process, her research, her art. I left inspired, and with a hankering to find scissors and a glue stick and do some collage myself. (Let’s be clear, things would not turn out at all like Sweet’s gorgeous works of art….)… more