The Keeping Quilt is a Sydney Taylor award winner. This book is about the tradition in a Jewish Russian family and the quilt they have passed down for generations. It begins with the narrator talking about her Grandmother coming to America as a young girl and only having a dress and a babushka from Russia to remember it. Eventually, she outgrows her dress so her mother helps her turn it into a quilt. The story goes on to show how the quilt has been used for many different things in the family, and has eventually made its way down to the narrator who wishes to one day pass it on to her daughter.
Illustratively, this book is masterfully created. In the illustrations, the only thing with color is the quilt. Before the quilt is made, the babushka and dress that will eventually be turned into the quilt have color as well. Having only the quilt colored further reinforces the significance of the quilt to this family. Because the quilt is the central focus for the story, having it the only thing colored draws the eye to it and allows it to be the main focus even if there is a lot going on in the picture. The color of things that are not the quilt is important as well. Instead of having the quilt being the only thing colored in a greyscale world would make it seem like the quilt is the only source of warmth in the story. Instead, the illustrations depict the scenes in sepia tones, which add softness and warmth to the pictures. In the story, the quilt is a source of warmth and feelings of love, but having the other images in the story done in warmer tones reinforces that the quilt symbolizes this because that’s what the family has made of it.
Overall, The Keeping Quilt is a heartwarming story that represents both Russian and Jewish culture. Through the repetition of the weddings depicted in the story, the reader can see that even though there are changes that have been taking place in the world, family traditions can be modified and still stand strongly.
Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People is a recipient of the Américas Books Award. This book is a picturebook about Pablo Neruda, originally named Neftalí, and his experiences in Chile. In the beginning, it shows Neftalís initial interest in the nature he experiences in Chile. The book then walks through Neftalí’s schooling and the change of his name from Neftalí to Pablo Neruda. As he grows older, Neruda becomes interested in social justice and speaking out against many injustices he sees in the world. Neruda was both an advocate and a poet and often times these two sides of him worked together. The book clearly illustrates just how Neruda was truly a poet for the people.
The importance of text placement in Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People goes beyond the initial body of text in the book. While the story text has short simple sentences which are easy for children to read, there is also text and words placed amongst the illustrations. Neruda’s inspiration was from the world around him, and the illustrations do an excellent job to reflect that. Without the words in the illustrations, the illustrations would be bright, colorful, and reflect what was written in the text. Overlaying words on the illustrations allows the reader to see what it was like living in Neruda’s world.
The story text itself is at the bottom over plain backgrounds and is easy to read. The short sentences of the text gives children the chance to read the book for themselves because of the simple sentence structures. The simple sentences also gives the text an easy flow. Although this book would not be considered poetry, there is a sort of poetic flow to the text.
Overall, this book allows readers to not only be informed about Pablo Neruda’s life, but also experience the world through Neruda’s eyes. Ideologically, this book sends the message of advocating for social justice and using talents to help others. This book is a good tool to use in a classroom because it combines poetry, history, and social events. The drawings invite children to be interested, and the story gives children a more cultured historical understanding.
Henry’s Freedom Box is the recipient of a Caldecott Honors. This book tells the story of Henry “BOX” Brown. Henry is a slave and as a child his master sends him to work for his master’s son. While working in a factory for his new boss, Henry meets Nancy, another slave who is owned by a different master. Their masters allow them to get married and they end up having three children. Unfortunately, Nancy’s master runs out of money and sells her and her children. They are carted off before Henry gets to say a proper goodbye and he is heartbroken. Henry goes on to meet Dr. Smith who helps Henry escape by shipping him to Philadelphia in a box. Henry gets shipped, and is free in Philadelphia.
The story of Henry’s Freedom Box has the potential to be very influential to a classroom. It is sometimes difficult to find a historical book about slavery that does not shy away from the horrors of the time, but this book stays historically accurate. The illustrations in this book add to the historical accuracy of this book because they are mostly realistic. The illustrations were created by starting with a pencil sketch and applying watercolors and oil paints. This helps creates realistic looking pictures that also have a sketchy texture to them. Having the illustrations look realistic and sketchy at the same time adds depth and interest to the story. Instead of having it look like recreations of photographs, the sketchiness allows for more texture to the drawings where it may not typically be.
The text placement is seemingly random, but it is placed to fit with the pictures. The illustrations take up the entire page and add a lot of depth to the story. Because the illustrations take up so much space, the text is sometimes placed off to the side or is placed over a portion of the illustration that is not the main focus. The disruption of the placement of the text from page to page draws the attention of the reader to the illustration as they scan the page to see where the texted is placed. Overall, this book is beautifully crafted and would be an excellent tool to use in a classroom when discussing slavery.
Harlem’s Little Blackbird is the story of singer and performer Florence Mills and her success in a business where black people were not welcome. The story begins in Florence’s childhood home when it is storming. Her mother is singing and says it is the best way to block out the storm. Florence starts singing and when the storm passes she thinks “If my voice is powerful enough to stop the rain, what else can it do?” Florence continues to use her powerful voice and become well known for being a performer and challenging the racial segregation of the time. Florence is not always welcome where she is preforming, but it does not stop her from inspiring change in others through her powerful voice.
Harlem’s Little Blackbird is a beautiful story that combines illustrations and text to cultivate a unique experience. Twice in the story Florence says a phrase along the lines of “if my voice can do this, what else can it do.” Each time Florence says this it marks a change that is about to happen. The first time she says it she is before she starts singing and preforming for other children and then eventually adults. The second time she says it is before she decides to advocate for change in the way black people were treated in theatre. Each time she says this phrase, the phrase is done in a different font and surrounded by borders which further emphasizes the idea that everyone can make a change if you start small.
The ideologies of this story are very beneficial to a classroom. Harlem’s Little Blackbird does not shy away from the problems that Florence faced in her time as a performer. The book blatantly shows that the struggles Florence faced by being a black performer in a society that only valued white people. It depicts how Florence’s family was not allowed in to see her preform when she was a child and that she had to threaten not to preform to get them into the show. This reinforces the idea that at the time, and still today, a lot of media marginalizes a certain group for another group’s entertainment. Overall, this story is a great historical story to read with a class because of its engaging illustrations and important message.
In Sam & Dave Dig A Hole, two young boys decide, after digging a small hole, to continue digging until they find something spectacular. Throughout the story, the readers watch as the two young boys unknowingly pass up many hidden treasures. The story ends when the two boys, tired from a full day of digging, fall asleep. Their dog, after smelling a bone hidden beneath the surface, continues to dig until they are all falling and land back on solid ground.
This book serves as a door for its audience. Through the adventures and determination of Sam and Dave, the reader is able see the benefits of determination and perseverance. Both Sam and Dave would have missed out on an incredible adventure had they been willing to settle with their miniature hole. As they continued on, however, they passed diamonds and other treasures in the soil. This gives the reader a reminder of the benefits of remaining steadfast rather than giving up. This being said, however, neither Sam nor Dave was aware of the diamonds that they were passing. They were digging either straight down or over (once they split ways). The diamonds were so close but the readers were the only ones to have knowledge of them. I think that this speaks to the danger of tunnel vision as we pursue any endeavor. Although they were passionate in their pursuit of “something spectacular,” they missed many opportunities of such treasures along the way. Only when their dog got whiff of the hidden treasures did he break the mold and keep digging.
The images in this book also help portray the themes. The images start out light and get darker and darker as the book goes on (until the end). The children get dirtier and dirtier causing even their faces to appear darker. This represents their inability to see the treasures that are all around them. As they get further and further into their tunnel vision, the pictures get darker and darker. It is interesting, however, that the treasures themselves are never tainted by such darkness. They remain bright and vividly displayed within the dirt. The illustrator does an amazing job of maintaining the integrity of the theme through the illustrations. They are equally as important in this story as the text. Without these images, the readers would be as lost to the treasures as the boys are themselves. Although the pictures are needed to complete the story, the structure of the text is not without its own merit. The dialogue is simple and the sentences are short, but it almost adds to the digging effect of the story. With each short, choppy sentence you feel as if you, too, are thrusting your shovel into the dirt to find something spectacular. Overall, this book sends children a very clear message masked with the sense of adventure: never give up. Although the boys continually seemed to fall short of their goal, there were always treasures just below the surface. That speaks a message of hope to anyone who is walking through a time or season of life that requires endurance.
Joseph Had a Little Overcoat is about Joseph who had a very worn over coat so he turned it into a jacket. Once the jacket was worn he turned it into a vest and so on and so forth. At the very end he has nothing so he writes a book about his overcoat. The moral of this story is that “you can always make something out of nothing.”(Taback, page 30)
This text would function as a door for readers. Joseph never gave up on his overcoat and made the best out of it as he could. He never complained about not having a nice overcoat and just made it into something else he could use like a jacket or vest and even a button. This shows that you can do a lot with a nothing, which is something a reader can apply to his or her own life. This book can also function as a mirror. Not having a lot is something that a lot of people experience in their life. Whether it is with food, money or clothes people have to work with what they have. A reader who has experienced something like this would be able to relate to Joseph and his story. On the other hand for a reader who has never experienced not having enough, this text would function as a window. These readers get the chance to see how difficult it can be to live off of so little. For readers who view this story as a window still have the opportunity to learn from the moral, that you can always make something out of nothing. At first glance this story lacks cultural diversity. But when the reader looks closer into the background it is seen that there is actual pictures of people who come from different cultures. Although different cultures are in the story I wish it was more prominent and that the reader didn’t have to search to see some diversity.
The images are very different than a lot of other children’s books. Some of the images look like they have been painted while there are also actual pictures of real people and food within most of the pages. There are very few words on the page, which allows the pictures to tell most of the story. There are so many small things in each image that draws the reader to look closer. The images may be a little strange but it works for the story. I really enjoyed this book and the images in it a lot. It had a good moral and the pictures keep the reader’s attention with all the detail.
Publisher and Year: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, 1971
Number of Pages: 25
One Fine Day is a Caldecott Medal winner. It is a story about a little fox that gets is tail cut off by an old woman for drinking her milk. The only way he is able to get his tail back is if he brings the old woman more milk.
The fox goes to a cow and asks for milk, the cow will only give him milk if he brings it grass. The story goes on like this until an old miller man feels sorry and gives the fox what he wants and doesn’t ask for anything in return. Since the miller man gave the fox what he asked for the fox was able to give everyone what they wanted in return for something of theirs so he was able to get his tail back.
This text could function as a mirror for readers. It would be considered a mirror for most reader because it shows the fox that did something wrong and he had to do many things to fix his mistake. This is something that a lot of people can relate to. Often times people make mistakes and it can be hard work to fix the mistakes someone has made. The text also shows that everything comes with a price. People aren’t usually willing to freely give up something that belongs to them without something in return. But sometimes in life we come across people like the old miller man who selflessly gives so others can be happy. Throughout the book there is a lack of racial diversity since all the characters are White or an animal. But there is a diversity in the economically sense. There is an old woman who doesn’t seem to have much, a maiden who also has little, but then there is a peddler who seems to have a little more than the rest of the characters. Each character in the text is different and brings a different feeling to the text.
The images in One Fine Day seem to have been painted with watercolor. They are light colors and the images are beautiful. The images are unframed which makes the reader feel like they are part of the images. On every page the fox is facing right and all the other characters are facing left. This means that when each character turns down the fox, he is still moving forward and not looking back. The images make the reader feel sad for the fox when he gets turned down because it is seen that every time he get more and more sad. In the very end the fox is happy with his tail and he is able to play with his friends. I thought that this text was a very cute story, it was sad at first but when the old man gave the fox what he needed it made it a happier story.
Hey, Al is a winner of the Caldecott Medal. It is a story about a janitor named Al and his dog Eddie. Al and Eddie live in a small one-room apartment and Eddie is fed up with living in a “dump” (Yorinks, page 4). One morning a giant bird comes and tells Al of a beautiful island paradise and that he will return in the morning to take Eddie and
Al to this paradise. The paradise is amazing at first but then Eddie and Al start to become birds so they flee the island and return home.
This text could function as a window, mirror and door. Since a big bird flying to someone’s door and taking a person to an island paradise is not realistic it would be considered a window for all readers. On the other hand the story talks about a person who does not have a lot of money who wishes for a better life. So this book could function as mirror for a reader who might be going through tough times. The end of this story has a message, which is “Paradise lost is sometimes Heaven found” (Yorinks, page 27). This important message is what makes this book also function as door for the readers who want to apply it to their lives. The lesson to be learned is that sometimes you will want more in life but having more might not make you happy. You must find a way to be happy with what you have. I think that this is an important lesson to be learned and the book does it in a good kid friendly manor. In the text only one race is represented which is White. This is also the only race shown since the rest of the characters are animals. Both the human and the dog seem to share equal power throughout the text, both of their ideas are taken into consideration equally. I found this important because it shows that just being we are humans doesn’t mean we have the right to treat animals poorly.
All the images within this text are beautiful. They are all framed but in every image there are things that are outside the frame. For example on the first page there is an image of Al’s apartment, which is framed. But Al is physically walking into the door of his apartment into the frame. This style makes the reader feel like they are watching the story unfold and feel a part of it since not everything is in the frame. In the beginning of the story when Al and Eddie are unhappy with their life the colors are very dull. Once they are at the paradise island the colors become brighter. At the very end when Al and Eddie find out that they actually prefer the life they had before, the last image is of Al and Eddie repainting their apartment a bright, uplifting color. I really enjoyed this story, it was fun and in the end there is a lesson to be learned from Al and Eddie’s adventure.
Publisher and Year: HarperCollins Publishers in 1998
Number of Pages: 26
Genre: Historical Fiction
This book is about an African American woman who is travelling westward to claim land in Oklahoma. It describes the challenges that African American pioneer women faced, like having to sleep in a sod hut with a saddle as a pillow, but it also illuminates the pride and freedom that they now have. The story is based on the westward movement in the 1880s, and more specifically, the author’s own family experiences while moving to Oklahoma.
The illustrations in this story both mirror and add to the text of the story. For example, the illustrations describe what the text is saying, but in more detail. Also, every illustration covers the entire page, there is no white space on any page, therefore, every image is unframed. This causes the reader to feel like they are there experiencing the westward movement with the characters. The colors of the images are all shades of brown which give an earthy and powerful mood to the story, but the darker shades of brown portrays a more serious and sorrowful mood. I also noticed that the main character is usually facing or looking to the right of the page which can symbolize her determination to keep moving until she finds her own piece of land.
This story can be used as a mirror to teach children about the Oklahoma Land Runs which allowed not only African Americans to settle and gain land, but also single women. I believe it could also be a window for children to begin to learn about the hardships that African Americans, especially females, were facing at this time in history. I also believe that it could be a mirror for African American females because not often are African American women depicted in literature as tough, hard-working, and independent. This story also touches on the idea of self-perseverance and personal journeys by the way that the main character never gives up on her westward journey even though she may face unexpected challenges along the way. Therefore, I believe this could function as a door to encourage children to always follow their dreams, but also realize that it will not be easy and it will take a lot of hard work and determination but it is worth it. All in all, this story is did a great job of retelling an often looked over event in history that gave African Americans and females the chance at freedom and opportunity.
This story is set in New York in the 1950s, and is about a little African American girl who goes with her mother to work, which is at a ballet school, and she falls in love with ballet. The story continues with the young girl always wishing and dreaming of becoming a prima ballerina, and one day the Ballet Master sees her dancing backstage and allows her to join ballet lessons at the school. At the end of the story, the little girl’s mother takes her to see Janet Collins perform at the Metropolitan Opera House, as she debuts as the first African American prima ballerina, and the little girl then realizes that she can do anything she sets her mind to.
The illustrations in this book are large and drawn with detail. All the images have a pinkish-brown color scheme, which I believe adds warmth to the images and makes the reader feel comfortable with the main character. The illustrations are also unframed and take up the whole page, which helps the reader to feel as though they are also experiencing everything with the characters. Also, the way the text is placed on each page almost resembles movement and dancing, which can be related to the little girl’s never ending dream of becoming a dancer and how she is always moving towards her end goal.
When first reading through this story I thought it was a great story about a little girl who never gives up on her dreams of dancing, but after reading through the story again, and reading the author’s note, I realized that there was a deeper message within this story. The author was inspired to write this story based on the true event of Janet Collins becoming the first prima ballerina to be hired from the Metropolitan Opera, and the story briefly touches on segregation within the U.S. pre-Civil Rights Movement. I believe that this story could be used as a window for children to learn about segregation and how everyone was not allowed the same opportunities. However, this story does not explicitly state anything about segregation or the Civil Rights Movement, and the young girl is portrayed in a way that is very happy, which does not send the reader the correct message about the hardships that many African Americans may have faced during the 1950s. I also think this book can be used as a mirror for African American children who may feel like they have struggled with having the same opportunities as white children, and also for children who are living with a single parent who has to work a lot in order to provide support for their family. This book could also be used as a door to teach children to never give up on their dreams. Overall, I believe this story does a great job of encouraging children to follow their dreams, but I am not sure that this book accurately represents the way many African Americans felt during segregation.