This is a blog specifically created for the purposes of my Literature for Children and Young Adults class at Texas Woman's University. Coming soon will be reviews of titles ranging from children's fiction to poetry to young adult novels. Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A Caldecott Celebration by Leonard S. Marcus

Marcus, Leonard S. 1998. A Caldecott Celebration: six artists and their paths to the Caldecott Medal. New York: Walker & Co. ISBN: 0802786561

As the title implies, this book is an anthology of short overviews of the lives and experiences of six picture book illustrators who have each won the prestigious Caldecott award for excellence in illustration. The author highlights one award-winning artist per decade: Robert McCloskey (for Make Way for Ducklings, 1942), Marcia Brown (for Cinderella; or The Little Glass Slipper, 1955), Maurice Sendak (for Where the Wild Things Are, 1964), William Steig (for Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, 1970), Chris Van Allsburg (for Jumanji, 1982) and David Wiesner (for Tuesday, 1992). The focus is on authors as artists, what motivated them to become picture book illustrators and how they broke into the market—including life-long desire and childhood experiences.

A Caldecott Celebration is a fabulous book for beginning librarians, library science students, future illustrators, teachers and even parents. It explains briefly the history and philosophy behind the award and its namesake, Randolph Caldecott—as well as the mention of the secret councils whose votes determine each year’s winner and honorees. The chapters are succinct overviews of the artists’ lives and creative histories, but are pregnant with emotional references to the illustrators’ personal pasts. What a simple and effective way to get to know some of children’s literature’s favorite author/illustrators! Chapters include direct quotes from the featured authors giving the reader even clearer insight into the personalities and motivations of the people behind the pen, paint and paper.

Publisher’s Weekly hails A Caldecott Celebration as “filled with witty anecdotes and pithy observations….With Marcus’s sure hand guiding this tour, readers will find cause for celebration. All ages.”
School Library Journal says, “this title has just about everything readers might want… So many good stories for children and adults to enjoy.” says, “Leonard S. Marcus’s thoughtful recognition of the labor and serendipity that go into the making of great art illuminates every page of [this book]…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.”

The bibliography of all the Caldecott Award Winners provides means for further reading and the glossary and index of proper names serve as an excellent reference guide.

Reviewed by Joelie Key-Tissot 09/09/06


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