Posts tagged Caldecott

A Tree Is Nice, and this picture book is a perfect reminder.

A Tree Is NiceTreeCover

Picture Book

Ages 2-7

By Janice May Udry

Illustrated by Marc Simont

32 Pages



1957 Caldecott Medal Winner



Janice May Udry wrote seven picture books, including Let’s Be Enemies and Moon Jumpers, both illustrated by Maurice Sendak. A Tree is Nice was her first picture book, and it is divine. Her unpretentious text is direct and expressive.

Marc Simont has appeared on TurtleAndRobot before, see The Philharmonic Gets Dressed and My Brother Ant. In A Tree is Nice his drawing style is loose and unrestricted; he doesn’t squander lines. Giving just enough information and omitting fine details, he’s creating a feeling with each scene as much as a picture.

The spreads alternate between black and white and color. The luxuriant, saturated color art arouses warm, joyous feelings.


In the black and white illustrations Simont uses a gray wash and thicker, more strategic strokes, generating a quiet, meditative feeling.


And every spread evokes serenity and comfort.


Trees are nice. They offer shade, they make the woods, they’re good for hanging swings on and they make sticks!


This exquisitely simple picture book provides many reasons trees are nice, and some reasons just one tree is nice too.


This book will make you want to plant a tree, or climb a tree, or lie down under a tree and take a nap. And really, don’t all of those things sound perfectly delightful?


Buy the book!

IndieBound / Powell’s / Amazon

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TurtleAndRobot’s Top 20 (plus one) Books about Snow

The Mole Sisters and the Way HomeWayHome

Picture Book

Ages 2-5

By Roslyn Schwartz

32 pages

Annick Press



The Mole Sisters are two of my favorite characters in children’s books. They’re sweet, funny, playful and irresistibly adorable. See my review of the whole series here.

The sisters are headed home when it starts to snow. And snow. And snow. Making their way through the drifts, they are diverted into a wonderful, magical cave, where they add themselves to some prehistoric cave paintings.

Not to fret, the sisters make it home safely and warm themselves by a cozy fire.


The Snowy Day SnowyDay-001

Picture Book

Ages 2-6

by Ezra Jack Keats

32 pages



1963 Caldecott Medal Winner


This timeless classic is a simple story about a young boy as he plays and experiments with the snow that has covered his world overnight. Follow the boy in his trademark red suit as he experiences the wonder and possibility of freshly fallen snow.

An interesting and important note: The Snowy Day was the very first full-color picture book to feature a black child protagonist.


Tracks in the Snow Tracks-001

Picture Book

Ages 2-6

by Wong Herbert Yee

32 pages

Square Fish

Reprint 2007


A young girl heads out into the snow when she notices some mysterious tracks. As she follows the prints over a bridge, across a pond, through some woods and right back to her home she realizes that the footprints are hers from the day before. She settles in at home for some cookies and tea.

Tracks in the Snow celebrates one of the best parts about playing in the snow, coming back to a warm house for some delicious treats.


Over and Under the Snow OverUnderSnw

Picture Book

Ages 2-6

by Kate Messner

Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

44 pages




While out cross-country skiing, a young girl and her father discuss the world of activity under the snow. There’s voles running through tunnels, frogs sleeping in the mud and black bears hibernating.

Simple cut paper illustrations perfectly highlight the contrast between the frozen white world above and the living earthen world below.

For those that are curious, the back of the book offers facts about all the animals and their winter activities. Interestingly, the area between the packed snow and the ground is called the subnivean zone.


Red Sled RedSled

Picture Book

Ages 2-6

by Lita Judge

40 pages




Pure joy fills this mostly wordless picture book. The only text is reserved for the sound effects made by the happy animals and their new-found toy.

A small red sled has been left outside and various woodland creatures take turns going for rides, until the owner of the sled finally returns.


The Happy Day HappyDay-001

Picture Book

Ages 2-6

by Ruth Krauss

Illustrated by Marc Simont

36 pages



1950 Caldecott Honor Book


Though technically a book about spring, the book begins under the cover of snow with all the animals sleeping. Soon they are waking up and sniffing. What is it they smell?

They emerge from their burrows and start running and sniffing. They stop, and laugh, and dance! There, in the midst of all the snow and white and cold, a burst of color appears in the form of a beautiful yellow flower.

The delicious, buttery yellow of the flower is the only bit of color in an otherwise black and white picture book.


Bear Has a Story to TellBear Has Story to Tell - Cover

Picture Book

Ages 2-6

By Philip C. Stead

Illustrated by Erin E. Stead

32 pages

Roaring Brook Press



This is not only one of my favorite books from 2012 but it’s also turning out to be one of my favorite picture books of all time. See my full review here.


Stella, Queen of the Snow stella-queen-of-the-snow

Picture Book

Ages 2-8

by Marie Louise-Gay

32 pages

Groundwood Books


Gay’s watercolor illustrations are active, unrestrained and bursting with color.


It’s Sam’s first snowstorm! He and his big sister Stella head outside to play and explore. Sam, ever full of questions, wants to know what snowmen eat and how many snowflakes are in a snowball. Stella, the helpful big sister, always responds with clever and ever so slightly true answers.


Snow SnowC

Picture Book

Ages 2-8

By Uri Shulevitz

36 pages



1999 Caldecott Honor Book


One of my favorite picture books ever! See my full review here.


Snow PDsnow

Picture Book

Ages 3-8

By P.D. Eastman and Roy McKie

61 pages

Random House


“Snow is good for making tracks…And making pictures with your backs.”


A simple story, told in rhyme, joyfully relating some of the many pleasures of snow. P.D. Eastman is also the author of Go, Dog. Go!, Are You My Mother? and many other Cat in the Hat Beginner Books.


Is That You, Winter?IsThatYouWinter

Picture Book

Ages 3-8

By Stephen Gammel

32 pages

Silver Whistle/Harcourt Brace



Gammel’s incredible illustrations make this a stand-out picture book. Colorful washes in every shade of blue are soon obscured by blowing white snow that seems to drip from the page.

Old Man Winter has woken up in a bad mood; he hates going to work. He jumps in his truck, flies through the sky, and spreads the ice and snow all morning long.

As he heads home for lunch, he falls into the deep snow and is rescued by a little girl.

“You make it snow for me,” the young girl tells him. Reminded that his work does have a positive influence in the world, Old Man Winter’s mood shifts and he’s happy again.

She picks him up to make sure he’s ok and readers learn that Old Man Winter is a small, wooden doll.


It’s Snowing ItsSnowing

Picture Book

Ages 3-8

By Olivier Dunrea

32 pages

Square Fish



Just before publishing the magic that is Gossie (see my review here), Dunrea created It’s Snowing.

Baby is fast asleep when mama sees snowflakes falling outside. She wakes baby and bundles him up. The two go outside to see, touch, taste and smell the snow, and share some of the magic and natural beauty life has to offer.


The Snowman thesnowman

Picture Book

Ages 3-9

by Raymond Briggs

32 pages

Dragonfly Books



In this wordless picture book, a young boy wakes up to a snowy day and heads outside to build a snowman. Later that night, when the boy cannot sleep, he heads outside to find the snowman has come to life. The two have a night filled with adventure.

Beautifully soft watercolor panels fill this book with the frosty feeling of snow and cold.


The Mitten The Mitten-001

Picture Book

Ages 3-9

by Jan Brett

32 pages




When a young boy asks his grandmother to knit him white mittens, she warns him that they will be hard to find if he drops them in the snow. As he goes out to play in the snow he immediately drops one of his new white mittens. Before long it becomes a cozy home to some woodland creatures seeking shelter.


Brave Irene brave-irene-1

Picture Book

Ages 3-9

By William Steig

32 pages

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Young Irene braves the wind, cold and blowing snow in this story of perseverance.

The dressmaker has finished the duchess’s gown for tonight’s ball but is not feeling well enough to deliver it. Though a big snowstorm is brewing, the dressmaker’s daughter Irene offers to bring the dress to the palace. Her mother is concerned but cannot make the trip herself and, reluctantly, allows her daughter to leave.

It’s tough going, but Irene is tougher and she completes her task despite the difficulties she faces on the way.

By the beloved author and illustrator of Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, the 1970 Caldecott Medal Winner.


Poppleton in Winter PoppletonInWinter-001

Early Reader

Ages 4-8

by Cynthia Rylant

Illustrated by Mark Teague

48 pages

Blue Sky Press



In the first chapter of this early reader, Poppleton and his new friend Patrick (a bird) make a fence out of icicles.

Next, Poppleton makes a clay bust of his good friend Cherry Sue.

In the final chapter Poppleton has forgotten his own birthday, but his friends have not. They all surprise Poppleton with home-baked goodies and a nighttime sleigh ride.

See my review of Poppleton here.


Katy and the Big Snow Katy_and_the_Big_Snow

Picture Book

Ages 4-9

By Virgina Lee Burton

40 pages

Houghton Mifflin



By the author and illustrator of the notable classics Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (1939) and The Little House (1943 Caldecott Medal Winner).

Katy the red crawler tractor was a bulldozer in summer and a snowplow in winter. When a blizzard hits her hometown, all the people are depending on Katy to save the day, and she relishes the opportunity to show that she can do just that.


Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening StoppingByWoods-001

Picture Book

Ages 4 and up

By Robert Frost

Illustrated by Susan Jeffers

32 pages

Dutton Juvenile

Originally published in 1978

Revised edition 2001


Susan Jeffers beautiful illustrations of frosty New England scenes perfectly complement this famous wintry poem by Robert Frost. Capturing the silent beauty of a snowy night, her art offers answers to some of the questions raised in this well-known poem.


For readers interested in the science of snow, a few Non-fiction options.


The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder StoryofSnow


Ages 4-10

By Mark Cassino

36 pages




This excellent non-fiction picture book features illustrations as well as photographs of snowflakes and answers the questions about where snow comes from and how it’s formed.


Snowflakes in Photographssnowflakes-in-photographs-001


By W.A. Bentley

Ages 5 and up

80 pages




This book features over eight hundred and fifty photographs of snowflakes taken by American photographer W.A. Bentley (1865-1931) during a fifty year period.

Though it’s common knowledge now that no two snowflakes are alike, this was not the case when Bently began his ambitious project. In 1865 he attached a bellows camera to a compound microscope and photographed what he referred to as “tiny miracles of beauty.”

It is because of his work that we can know of and experience the wonder, magic and uniqueness contained in each miniature frozen sculpture.

(See also Snowflake Bentley, the 1999 Caldecott Winner, by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Mary Azarian.)


The Secret Life of a Snowflake: An Up-Close Look at the Art and Science of Snowflakes

Non-FictionSecret LifeofSnowflake

Ages 8 and up

by Kenneth Libbrecht

48 pages

Voyageur Press



The title says it all. Full of extraordinary photographs and detailed information about the cycle of a snowflake, this book is written by a scientist who studies snowflakes.

The universal love that children have for snow can be harnessed and redirected to foster a fascination for the fate of small frozen bits of water, crystals, and other scientific wonders.

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2013 Youth Media Awards Announced

Congratulations to all the winners and honorees of the 2013 American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards! Many thanks to the committee members entrusted with such an important task.

See the full list here.


John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature:

The One and Only Ivan by by Katherine Applegate


Newbery Honor Recipients:

Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz

Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage


Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children:

This Is Not My Hat illustrated and written by Jon Klassen


Caldecott Honor Recipients:

Creepy Carrots! illustrated by Peter Brown, written by Aaron Reynolds

Extra Yarn illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett

Green illustrated and written by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

One Cool Friend illustrated by David Small, written by Toni Buzzeo

Sleep Like a Tiger illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, written by Mary Logue

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In honor of the forthcoming Caldecott and Newbery announcement (on January 28th, 2013) Philip and Erin Stead, author and illustrator of A Sick Day for Amos McGee (the 2011 Caldecott winner) and Bear Has a Story to Tell, announce their Phildecott and Steadbery Awards, aka their “Best of 2012” list.

Includes bonus thoughts on the importance of bookstores and the perseverance of the printed book.



Philip Stead Illustration | A Home for Bird, Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat, Creamed Tuna Fish and Peas on Toast, A Sick Day for Amos McGee, Bear Has a Story to Tell

But first, a Short Essay Regarding the Importance of the Independent Bookstore

From the Cluttered Desk of Philip Stead (with Erin sitting close by):

The twenty-first century has had a rocky start for lovers of bookstores and real, paper books. The advent of e-bookery coupled with Wall Street’s unfortunate shenanigans has created an environment in which many stores have had to close their doors. Here in Ann Arbor we lost Shaman Drum, our downtown indie store that had peddled books to students and townies alike for more than three decades. Next was Borders, an Ann Arbor institution that began as a small indie shop on State Street. Long before her career as a bookmaker Erin worked at the downtown Borders. She tended the children’s section. It’s strange now to walk by its empty shell.

Throughout all this I’ve believed (or, more accurately, wanted to believe) that there’s…

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John Coltrane’s Giant Steps: A musical awakening.


John Coltrane’s Giant Steps


Picture Book

Ages 4 and up

By Chris Raschka

36 pages

Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Published in 2002


Chris Raschka has tackled jazz before in two previous picture books, Charlie Parker Played Be Bop (1992) and Mysterious Thelonius (1997). His book Yo! Yes? (2007) was awarded a Caldecott Honor. In 2006 he won the Caldecott Medal for The Hello, Goodbye Window, by Norton Juster (author of The Phantom Tollbooth). He won the Caldecott Medal again in 2012 for A Ball for Daisy. I feel quite comfortable saying that Chris Raschka is a genius. (This article, written by his wife, titled “The Habits of an Artist” is a fascinating read.) His art is rich and loose and full and free; his text is concise and lyrical.

If you had to describe Jazz to someone who’d never heard music, this would be the perfect book to help you do it. Raschka flawlessly combines simple shapes, thick, dark lines, a pastel palette and instructive text to create music on the page.


In the opening spread our narrator introduces us to the band. They will be performing “Giant Steps” by John Coltrane.


Each member has a job— the box lays the foundation, the raindrops set the tempo, and the snowflake is charge of the harmony.


Once that’s all laid out, the cat enters, dancing over it all and adding the melody. All the while the narrator is directing the action.

(Readers familiar with Coltrane’s work may already have made the connection—raindrops, kittens, snowflakes, and boxes “these are a few of my favorite things.”)

When things get a bit messy, our narrator takes a break, describes Coltrane’s music, slows the whole thing down and helps the band get back on track.


The narrator’s instructions are simple and rich and so exquisitely descriptive of Coltrane’s music. But don’t see it as only Coltrane’s music. Think of it as an introduction to jazz, to music, and the way in which words and pictures can convey something seemingly indescribable.


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Le Philharmonique s’habille : cent cinq personnes se préparent pour aller travailler.

The following is the third, and last (for now at least) review to be translated into French. Thank you, once again, to Guillaume Bariou for the translations. Special thanks to Marielle Brehonnet and Deborak Kacik for facilitating the process.


Le Philharmonique s’habille

Philharmonic5 1


Livre d’images

Âge : de 3 à 8 ans

Par Karla Kuskin

Illustré par Marc Simont




Karka Kuskin (1932-2009) était une auteure et illustratrice pour enfants très prolifique. Dans cet ouvrage unique, sa prose est irréprochable : elle y décrit parfaitement les préparatifs qui devancent la représentation d’un orchestre classique.

Marc Simont a non seulement reçu le prix Caldecott Honor (Par une Journée d’Hiver, 1950) mais s’est également vu décerner la Caldecott Medal (Un Arbre, 1957). Il a de plus réalisé la plupart des illustrations des livres de la série Nat le Grand. Son art est à la fois merveilleux, expressif et vivant. Mariant les aquarelles saturées aux contours délicatement tracés au crayon, les scènes et les personnages sont à la fois simples et exubérants.

Le Philharmonique s’habille suit cent quatre musiciens et un chef d’orchestre dans leurs préparatifs en vue de leur représentation du vendredi soir. L’orchestre compte quatre-vingt-douze hommes et treize femmes. Bien que tous vêtus de noir et blanc, les combinaisons vestimentaires possibles sont nombreuses.

Avant de s’habiller, ils se lavent. Certains prennent des douches, d’autres préfèrent les bains. L’un lit dans sa baignoire alors que l’autre reste tranquillement assis dans un nuage de bulles et chante.


Tous les hommes, sauf ceux qui portent une barbe, se rasent. Certains hommes portent des caleçons et d’autres enfilent des slips ; ceux qui portent des tricots peuvent les choisir avec ou sans manches. Certains ajustent eux-mêmes leur nœud papillon, d’autres attachent un nœud tout fait à leur col. Celui qui porte un très grand nœud papillon tout blanc arbore également une queue de pie !


Les femmes ont le choix entre des bas ou des collants. Une femme qui a toujours froid aux pieds décide d’enfiler des grosses chaussettes de laine. Huit d’entre elles ont une jupe avec un top noir, quatre autres portent une robe et la dernière a opté pour une chasuble. Quelques-unes portent des bijoux, mais jamais de bracelets. « Les bracelets pourraient les embêter quand elles travaillent. »

Philharmonic2 1

Une fois tous vêtus de noir et blanc, ils enfilent leurs manteaux et saluent leur famille. Ceux qui apportent leurs instruments les transportent dans des housses ; le chef d’orchestre, lui, a une petite mallette. De nombreux moyens de transport mènent jusqu’au théâtre : le taxi, le métro, le bus et la voiture.

Quand les cent quatre musiciens et le chef d’orchestre montent sur scène, le public applaudit et la salle retentit d’une belle musique. C’est parti pour la représentation.


Si votre bout de chou est plus intéressé par le sport que par la musique, jetez un œil au livre Les Titans de Dallas se préparent à aller au lit.


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My Brother, Ant: A warm expression of brotherly love in a beginning reader.

My Brother, AntMBAc

Early Reader

(Level 3)

Ages 4-8

By Betsy Byers

Illustrated by Marc Simont

32 pages




Betsy Byers won the Newbery Medal in 1971 for her novel Summer of the Swans. She wrote her first book in 1961 and has published books consistently since. Her writing for My Brother, Ant is funny and sweet with very natural dialogue. Byers is able to be repetitive—giving children the opportunity to practice reading these words—without being boring or didactic. The longer text and slightly more complex words place this book at the more advanced end of the beginning reader spectrum.

In 1950 Marc Simont received the Caldecott Honor for his illustrations in The Happy Day, written by the highly influential Ruth Krauss. He was awarded the Caldecott Medal for A Tree Is Nice by Janice May Udry, in 1957. He also illustrated many of the perennially popular Nate the Great books. I reviewed The Philharmonic Gets Dressed here, which he also illustrated. His art in this book is wonderfully expressive and relaxed.

Ant, short for Anthony, is the younger brother of our narrator, who is not named. “The Monster Under Ant’s Bed” is the first of four stories, or chapters, in the book. Ant can’t sleep, he’s sure there’s a monster under his bed. Dad calls out from the living room that there is no monster, but Ant wants to know how dad can be so sure without even checking. Big brother to the rescue!


He looks under the bed, has a conversation with the monster and convinces him to move along. It’s all settled—Ant and his brother can go to sleep.


In “Ant and the Spider” big brother is very upset to discover a spider drawn on his homework. Ant insists he did not draw a spider on his brother’s homework and mom insists that Ant does not lie. Big brother knows Ant did it and stomps off to his room. Ant follows quickly behind explaining that he did not draw a spider on his brother’s homework.


He drew an upside down dog.



Big brother tries to read Ant a story in “Ant and the Three Little Figs.”


“No! That is not right. It’s pigs. Three little PIGS. Say PIGS.”

When his brother finally agrees to say pigs, Ant goes outside to play. His brother asks why. Ant replies, “I don’t like the rest of the story. It has a big bad wolf in it.”


“Love Ant” is one of my favorite pieces in any book ever. Though it’s July, Ant asks his brother to help with a letter to Santa.


Though his brother explains that you write letters to Santa in December, to ask for presents, Ant insists, “Just write the words.”



My Brother, Ant is a superb book for a confident beginning reader as well as a warm expression of a brotherly relationship—love, annoyance, and acceptance included.


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