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Picture Books
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Book Reviews-Genre 1


Marcus, Leonard S. 1998. A CALDECOTT CELEBRATION. New York:  Walker and Co.   ISBN:  0802786588

What a great idea for a book.  This book was the most interesting to me because it gave so much information.  I like the way the book is set up and I like the way it tells you what to expect and what the dates in the parentheses mean.  I can also tell you what year the book won the medal and that it was named after Randolph Caldecott.  It is given to the artist with the most distinguished American picture.


The two artists that impressed me the most were Robert McCloskey and Marcia Brown.  The book gives you the story of how the artist got started and how they made the books.  This is a great concept for a book. 


I had read Cinderella before but didn’t much care for this particular version, but after reading how Marcia Brown drew the pictures.  She drew characters on tissue paper and then cut the drawings out and arranged them in the order to create a great story.  What a great idea.  This really can cut down on so many drafts.  It also sounded like it was fun.  It reminded me about how I liked to play paper dolls as a young girl.  It was interesting to see the work that goes into creating a book.


Just like when Robert McCloskey, brought ducks to his apartment to study them so that he could draw a realistic picture of the ducks.  What a crazy way to draw pictures.  I can just see him walking around his house following the ducks.  It was also amazing how when he wanted to know how to draw the ducks bill, he would lay on the floor and draw the ducks bill from the bottom view.  He was determined to make his drawings look as realistic as possible.  He accomplished this with his beautiful lithographic crayon and detailed pictures.  McCloskey was able to create


I intriguing part of information that I gain about this book MAKE WAY FOR DUCKLINGS was what it represented for America at the time it was published.  A week later American entered WWII.  The book provided a sense of security and promise that the father’s would return safely back to the children of our nation.



Allsburg, Chris Van. 1985. THE POLAR EXPRESS. New York:  Houghton Mifflin Co.   ISBN:  0395389496


THE POLAR EXPRESS is a recipient of the 1986 Caldecott Award.  Chris Van Allsburg sets the mood for this picture book by his illustrations.  I can feel the coldness and the darkness just by the way he illustrates his pictures.  He engages me from the very beginning of the book by the language that he uses.  I can picture the unrustled sheets and the hissing steam of the train.  He has created a great image in my head about what that night was like.


It is a beautiful story of a child that takes a journey to the North Pole and meets Santa and is given the first Christmas present of the Christmas season, which is a bell from the reindeer's harness.  In his journey back home he loses the bell but then rediscovers it under the tree on Christmas morning.  The boys parents think the bell is broken because they cannot hear it ring but for those that believe in Santa can hear it ring. 


In the beginning of the story, you wonder if the child will go or stay, but we know that he will go because he is intrigued by the conductor and where he might take him.


The pictures most certainly interact with the story being told. Since we know that Allsburg likes to draw from his imagination, we understand how he does a good job of helping us to use our imagination.  Especially how he ends the story line with the child.  The child will always have this imagination, especially when it comes to Santa because he still believes and as long as he believes, he will be able to imagine more adventures with Santa.


When I first saw the children on the bus I thought, oh they just want to see Santa but after reading the end and going back to look at the pictures, I see that there are only children on that train because they are the only true believers. 


The wolves give a lasting impression.  One sees the coldness and how dark and scary it might be in the forest as the train passes them by.


Allsburg creates such captivating pictures with lots of shading.


I am glad my predictions were not correct because I thought it was going to be about the little boy going on a trip to help Santa deliver the presents.




Rohmann, Eric. 2002. MY FRIEND RABBIT.  Brookfield, CT:  Roaring Brook Press.  ISBN:  0761315357

MY FRIEND RABBIT is a 2003 Caldecott Medal winner.  This story is about the friendship between a rabbit and mouse.  You know that it is a true friendship when mouse lets rabbit play with his plane, although he knows that wherever that rabbit goes, trouble seems to follow him.  So of course the meant he plays with it the plane gets stuck in a tree, but rabbit has an idea.  He will pile all the animals on top of each other until they reach the tree to pull the plane down.  In the book where there are no words, there are fantastic pictures of the struggles that mouse and rabbit go through to stack the animals up.  Once one sees the big elephant, rhinoceros, and hippo being stacked on top of each other, one knows there can be nothing but disaster for them.  The only good thing that comes out of the tumbling of all the animals is that mouse and rabbit do reach the plane.  Although they get out of that jam, they just land right back where they started.  I like the way the author starts off with a problem, solves it and then goes back to the same problem.  It makes me think that it will lead to more adventures for mouse and rabbit


There are not a lot of words but because it is a picture book, the illustrations aid in telling the story.  The pages where the illustrations show the animals all falling down and the expressions on their faces are the funniest. 


As I wrote the word adventure, it came to me how MY FRIEND RABBIT could be used in fourth to demonstrate an adventure.  On our district benchmarks, the fourth graders had to write about an adventure they’d had.  It was hard for them to write about an adventure when they did not even know what an adventure was.  Why not use this book to do a writing experience?  The students could write the sequel to this book.


Ehlert, Lois. 2004. CHICKA CHICKA 1,2,3. by Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson. New York: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers.  ISBN:  0689858817

Chicka Chicka 123 is in category of a counting picture book. 


One thing I have learned about picture books is that the illustrations reinforce the text.  This particular book helps children learn to count to 100.  The pictures most defiantly help tell the story.  I can tell what is happing in the story before I even begin to read the word.


This book is a fun and vivacious book.  It is also a predictable story.  One sees the numbers all climbing the tree and one knows they will all wind up falling because the numbers are getting bigger and there are no more places to go on the tree.


I was surprised when the zero showed up after 99.  I was distracted by that and did not realize that the 10 was nowhere to be seen.  So, you can imagine my surprise when zero leaps to the top to join 10 and make 100.


Lois Ehlert does a great job bring life to the counting book. The shapes she used to design her artwork also represent math.  She uses circles, triangles and half circles to make up the trees and the bees.


Bill Martin Jr. and Lois Ehlert continue with the same theme and colors that they used for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom but now they are using numbers.  This will be a great book to use on the 100 day of school for first graders and even second graders.

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