Woohoo! They've arrived! Unfortunately, the shipping delay was not caused by stickers, as my Picture Books arrived sans stickers. I'll review the Newbery Winner, KIRA-KIRA by Cynthia Kadohata, as soon as I've read it. Picture Books are such little flashes of joy - they go by too fast. Here are my thoughts on the Caldecotts:
KITTEN'S FIRST FULL MOON by Kevin Henkes
Unbelievably simple. That's the first thing that hit me. And I don't just mean the black and white illustrations, which look like they must have been drawn much smaller and enlarged to create such rich line quality. Even the paper is dull and uncoated, almost like a thick newsprint. But the story itself, is so simple, and yet there is tons of action. The kitten draws amusing conclusions. It's just smart enough I can imagine a child interrupting, "It's a reflection!"
Did it deserve to be the Caldecott winner? I don't know. I think I'm surprised it made it onto the radar. But once noticed, I think this book has a strong impact.
The Honor Books:
THE RED BOOK by Barbara Lehman
What a beautiful book. It is very tactlie, with it's solid red high gloss cover. The child in the corner is embossed, but not glossy. It's immediately a very rich feeling experience. There are no words in the story, and you won't miss them. The images are mysterious, but clear, and the story is easy to understand - even with it being so fantastic. The illustrations themselves are very simple, a fitting evolution from KITTEN'S FIRST FULL MOON. The line quality is strong and the details sparse and geometric. I might have liked to see a bit more color on the faces of the children, but overall this is a wonderful book.
Coming On Home Soon
by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E. B. Lewis
One of the few Caldecott's awarded to a book written and illustrated by two different people – this book confuses me. It is beautifully illustrated with watercolors done the way one expects superb watercolors to look. The story is quiet and rich. What confuses me is the old feeling of the book. The story is obviously set in the first half of the 20th century. It is a memory, and something most of today's children will not relate to. With the push in the publishing world for something new and different, I'm surprised this book even exists. Don't get me wrong, it is beautifully done. It just seems a completely different direction from what the publishing world says they want, and what marketing says will sell. It could have been produced 30 years ago as easily as today. It will sit on my bookshelf screaming of age that it does not have.
KNUFFLE BUNNY by Mo Willems
I am converted. I didn't realize this was by Mo Willems when I ordered DON'T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS! today. I am a new fan. Where COMING ON HOME SOON feels old, KNUFFLE BUNNY feels new and vibrant. The art is a combination of halftone photography with flat color illustrations drawn in a scratchy pen and ink. The art is not well-drawn, but it is fun and lively and a joy. Character emotions are easy to read and right on the money. The story had me laughing out loud from about halfway through all the way to the end. It is about a common enough event, the loss of a favorite toy, told in the most amusing way. This one I highly recommend. Frankly, if I were voting, this would have been my pick for the Caldecott.