Monday, September 15, 2008

A Caldecott Celebration (Genre 1 Picture Books)

Marcus, Leonard S. 1998. A Caldecott celebration: six artists and their paths to the Caldecott Medal. New York: Walker and Company. ISBN 0-8027-8656-1.
Plot Summary
This book gives a little history behind the Caldecott Medal - it's purpose, medal eligibility, and the selection process. The author then gives a detailed history of six (current edition added a seventh book) Caldecott Medal winners - one for each decade of the award's existence. The history tells about the author/illustrator and how he/she develop the award-winning book in particular though other works are mentioned.
Critical Analysis
This very useful book gives a thorough history of the Caldecott Medal explaining it's creation and the process of selection. The book then examines one medal-winner from each decade. Marcus artfully provides insight into the author/illustrator's journey into book-writing and discusses his/her process for developing stories and illustrations with most attention being given to the medal-winning book. Accompanying the descriptions are photographs of the authors, real-life models for their illustrations, and original sketches of the book illustrations. Marcus is able to take the reader beyond the matter of fact history behind the selected titles into the sort of magical world of story creation.

While the book is quite informative, it is not necessarily intended for young children. Older children, teachers, and librarians will however find it to be an excellent resource for research and/or teaching purposes.
Professional Review Excerpt
From Review Leonard S. Marcus's thoughtful recognition of the labor and serendipity that go into the making of great art illuminates every page of A Caldecott Celebration. It is also to his credit that he has chosen six of the most beloved titles in the canon of American literature as his representative sample of Caldecott-winning children's titles: Robert McCloskey's Make Way for Ducklings, Marcia Brown's version of Cinderella, Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, William Steig's Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, and Chris Van Allsburg's Jumanji. Marcus's subjects--both texts and creators--have amazing stories behind them. Not a drop of the mystery and fondness one feels toward these works is diluted by the details shared in A Caldecott Celebration, and after reading Marcus's considered tribute, you'll only love these books the better. --Jean Lenihan

From Publishers Weekly Filled with witty anecdotes and pithy observations, Marcus's (Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom) approach to examining the works of six Caldecott Medalists will be of as much interest to adults as to picture book readers. With a generous sprinkling of the artists' own words and sometimes those of his or her editor, Marcus chronicles the inspiration behind these works, the creative process, the artists' reactions to winning the prestigious award and its effect on their careers. With Marcus's sure hand guiding this tour, readers will find cause for celebration.
~An obvious connection for this book is to a Caldecott Medal Unit in which students learn about the award and the books that have won.
~This book is especially useful to 4th grade writing teachers who wish to show their students how much planning goes into writing and illustrating a good story.

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