Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for January 18th, 2017

1-tribe-cover

by Sam Juliano

     Kirkus raved “Smith soars in this earnest, meditative work about longing, the joy of interaction, and family.”  In a similarly glowing assessment Publishers Weekly offered “Every living being, Smith implies, needs a place to belong, and children, especially need other children.”  School Library Journal gushed, urging repeated visitation: “There is much to savor and explore in this cleverly crafted picture book, and readers will glean more with each perusal.”  The unbridled fervor continued for months since the book’s early year release, and numerous respondents on Good Reads were predicting it would win the Caldecott Medal.  Alas a controversy followed the initial hoopla that centered around the use of one word in the book’s title and how it was brought to bear on the book’s art.  Though the vast majority of the book’s admirers are by and large staying the coarse, the mild dissension in some quarters has slowed down the buzz for the book, allowing some of the year’s other picture book treasures to capture the lion’s share of the talking points.  Will the real Lane Smith please stand up?  Oh yes, the book’s title and creator.  There is a Tribe of Kids is a non-stop symphony of movement, a habitat trotting exploration of a cluster of nouns and how they apply to a young boy in the Tarzan mold, dressed in  leaves (though his comfortable fitting footwear doesn’t quite conform) who travels with abandon.

(more…)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

hat-1

by Sam Juliano

Master picture book stylist Jon Klassen won the Caldecott Medal several years ago for the second book in his eventual “Hat Trilogy.”  He also won two Caldecott Honors for Extra Yarn and Sam and Dave Dig A Hole.   The first two books in the trilogy, I Want My Hat Back and This is Not My Hat are not reliant on each other, as their stories if not their premise are independent.  The final work, this year’s We Found A Hat is story-wise and stylistically the best one yet, so you have to wonder if a sequel has a chance to follow-up on the same author’s previous win in an ongoing series.  Caldecott rules explicitly state that the committee is not to consider whether an artist won or not previously; the issue is the craftsmanship of the current book being scrutinized.  Though all the books veer off in different directions, they are of course thematically linked.  If there is a better artist out who more effortlessly uses space to superlative effect I’d sure like to know of that person.  Even the typography is incomparably elegant.  And Klassen’s economical use of language in this three-part work is cunning and laugh-inducing, not to mention it is one of the very best read aloud books of the year.  In the first two books the perpetrator of a theft get their comeuppance in an implied act of violent retribution.  The Caldecott winner features a small fish who acknowledges that what he did was wrong, but he justifies it by saying the hat is much too small for the whale he swiped it from.  Despite a promise from a snail that he will keep secret his hiding place in a in a maze of sea plants, he is betrayed, and the last image in the book shows the triumphant whale wear his hat after a raid on the greenery.  No such conclusion transpires in We Found A Hat, though like the other books one feels the ending is proper.  The scheming turtle after all never did pull the trigger on the intended heist unlike the aggressors in the first two books. (more…)

Read Full Post »

leavemealone

by Sam Juliano

If the decision on what book will win this year’s Caldecott Medal was left in the hands of 170 first-graders from Fairview, New Jersey the result would be a landslide triumph for Vera Brosgol’s comedic tale Leave Me Alone.  As captivating as a read aloud book one is likely to put to use in a lower grade classroom, the book is vivid, colorful and pictorially diverse, and the hook of the cranky old lady always fighting to get her own spaces will have most kid in stitches.  Heck the old lady herself can administer them herself with her needle and yarn as soon as she realizes that there is something very persuasive about home sweet home.  The three titular words spoken with exclamatory ardor never fail to attract an eruption of laughter and as a result you have riveted students throughout the reading as the book has the hook of anticipation. As to the pictorial design it is really exquisite and it reminds me of the past Caldecott Medal winner “Always Room For One More” by Sorche Nic Leodhas and Nonny Hogrogian, for the wall to wall humanity, but for illustrative style more like Margot Zemach’s Caldecott Honor winner “It Could Always Be Worse.” Leave Me Alone is bold, vivid and beautifully balanced, and the creativity accelerates as the story proceeds. In the end, it recalls Hey Al as our erstwhile human knitting machine realizes she’s far better off with her brood.   The cover is one of the best of the year.  Balls of yarn frame the angry grandmother holding her needle and thread, and a huge voice bubble with the book’s hilariously exclamatory title, and four of the characters -a boy, a martian, a goat and a bear- she spends time with during the narrative peak out of their own frames to eye her.  Fluorescent orange -always a great color to use for end papers when you want to set a cheery tone leads to a title page depicting this feisty woman heading out carrying a sack. (more…)

Read Full Post »