Author and Illustrator: Leo Lionni

Publisher and Year: Dragonfly Books, 1967 (Caldecott honor)

Number of Pages: 27 Pages

Genre: Fantasy

Frederick is a tale about a family of five field mice preparing for the winter season. Frederick’s family gathers nuts and berries while Frederick mediates on a rock. The family becomes frustrated with Frederick’s “helping” strategies, but discover that it is the one person that carries them through the winter.

This story serves as a mirror to the reader to reflect on how different persons bring different aspects and “help” to multiple situations. As a window, the reader can reflect on how it is the simple things that help individuals through difficult times. The story begins by explaining Frederick and his family’s need to stock up on food to prepare for the chilling winter. Opposed to doing physical labor, Frederick “gathers the ray of the suns” and “gathers colors and words.” This frustrates the rest of the mice because Frederick is not helping with completing the complicated duties of collecting food. Winter finally comes and Frederick’s family is surviving the beginning portion of the winter because of all the food they gathered. Then, food runs out and the family is left to rely on all the things Frederick “gathered.” Through this story, the reader learns that as complicated and stressful as life is, it is the simple things that get people through. Obstacles come across all people but if one remembers to prioritize the simple things in life, the group will be able to survive. In addition, this book highlights the importance of individuality and diversity among a group. When the group has unique individuals, positive effects will arise along with many collaborative ideas. Thirdly, Frederick focuses of the importance of all members of the family. Every person in a family has a unique trait that unites that family in times of hardship. With many complications in life, family will help one through any obstacle.

This book is a Caldecott honor, meaning that artwork was very important to the story. In addition, the images are large which allow young readers to visualize the story. Structurally, words on left side of page until Frederick serenades his family with his poem. This is a symbol for a younger reader to be able to focus on both the text and images by separating them. No frames are used in this story, which engage the reader to be part of the story. There is interplay of text and images to show that the text and images are needed to gain the full experience of the story. In addition, Frederick has calm facial expressions until he is depended on to carry his family through showing that he was content with his role in the group. In terms of an ideological aspect, the book teaches that it is important to take care of both the mind and body, everyone takes on a unique and important role in a group, and the family bond can overcome any obstacle.



Dave the Poet: Artist, Poet, Slave

Author: Laban Carrick Hill

Illustrator: Bryan Collier

Publisher and Year: Little, Brown and Company, 2010 (Caldecott honor, Coretta Scott King Award)

Number of Pages: 40 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Dave the Potter tells of Dave, who was a slave in the 1800s in South Carolina (Hill, 2010). He was a very skilled potter while also being a poet. This story honors the craftsmanship of Dave’s pottery along with his poetry.

This story serves as a window into the life of Dave as a slave and as a craftsman. However, this book only focuses on Dave’s pottery and some poetry, but does not tell of his struggles as a slave. In addition, the last three pages of the book highlight some of Dave’s poetic verses while explaining historical facts about him. This book seems to portray Dave as enjoying being a slave in the South. For example, the images show Dave with facial expressions of content and serenity as if he enjoys the current position of being a slave doing his work. As a mirror, it reflects the African American culture and honors a man of color that brought beauty to pottery and poems. As with Dave being a slave, he did not have power. He is portrayed as just going about the day while creating large pots. Yet, the end of the book includes an author and illustrator’s note. Both explicitly state the extensive research they did on Dave (it is all cited in the book), and even visited the place where he was a slave. Though the way Dave was depicted was not exactly accurate (he lost a leg but is drawn with two legs), the author and illustrator made it very clear that though Dave was a slave, the purpose of this book was to honor his craft of pottery and poetry. This story represents the African American culture by honoring a man of color. As the author and illustrator made known, they wanted to represent Dave for his skills as a potter and poet. They portray him as a figure worthy of being remembered as a man of color in history. At the same time, this breaks any stereotype that showed slaves having no creative skills because Dave was able to create beautiful verses of poetry and pottery as a man of color.

Perceptually, the book is a Caldecott honor meaning that the artwork is important to the emotion of the story. In addition, image is on one page while text on another to allow the reader to focus on both text and image. The text is on a solid colored background showing it is to be noticed by the reader. Dave is portrayed as very calm, quiet, and comfortable in work. My criticism of this is that with him being a slave, I think this book portrayed him to be more comfortable with his life as a slave than he actually was. Structurally, there are three pages of Dave’s historical background included at end of book showing that the author and illustrator want to share the story of Dave’s pottery and poetry. In addition, they include citation page and author and illustrator’s note. This shows credibility to where they found their information about Dave’s story while also explaining why they chose to focus on his craftsmanship and poetry. The text and images don’t mirror one another but still need both to gain full experience from book. Also, no framing of the images allows the audience to come into Dave’s story. Overall, this book honors a man with tremendous skill even with its questionable depictions of his life. As a theme from the book, the author and illustrator highlight that the fine arts bring beauty to the world.





Author and Illustrator: Aaron Becker

Publisher and Year: Candlewick Press, 2013 (Caldecott honor)

Number of Pages: 37 Pages

Genre: Fantasy

Journey is a picture book with no words and all images. It follows the adventures of a little girl who draws her way with a red crayon to an imaginary world with a castle. The guards of the castle capture a bird that the girl sets free. The bird takes her back to reality where she befriends a boy who has the same magical crayon as her, except in purple.

This text serves as a window into the whimsical and magical world that the imagination can create. As a mirror, it allows the reader to reflect on the wonders imagination can bring when trying to escape from reality. As a door, it invites the audience to join in and participate in a fantasy world with the main character. In the beginning of the story, the girl is ignored by her parents because they are busy doing other tasks. So, the girl feels powerless and lonely in the real world. However, when she discovers the magic red crayon that can draw her anything she would like, she explores the world the crayon provides. She never draws anything elaborate, just simple things that help her in the adventures in the fantasy world. As a result, she gains power and even helps free a trapped bird that the people in the fantasy world were after (it is found out that the bird is drawn by the boy with the magical purple crayon). This can possibly be a symbol that with age, the freedom in creativity and imagination are not valued and cannot exist. It can act as a parallel the girl finds in the real world that creativity is not promoted. Once again, no exact culture is represented. Instead, the broad culture of a child and the imagination are highlighted. The author/illustrator sends the message that creativity and imagination cannot be confined. On the contrary, imagination needs freedom to allow children (and all ages) to dream and explore life in a unique ways. This adds to my understanding of culture in the sense that no person (regardless of race, religion, or gender) should be stopped from exploring the positive effects of imagination.

Perceptually, the story is all images with no words because the reader can be creative and learn worlds through images. In addition, this book is a Caldecott honor, so artwork is detailed important to the story. This would make sense because girl’s red crayon is magical and through the crayon (a symbol for the fine arts) she can explore fantasy worlds. The creations of the boy and girl are brightest colors on page and even have a different texture than the background. This stands for the magic found within the crayons and the imagination of both children. The real world is dull colors showing that imagination brings color to the world. The first two pages in book are framed meaning the girl feels confined and alone in the real world. As the story moves along, the images show travels of across the world exposing the reader to places around the world. The girl draws everything she needs being a sign that she is independent.

Through this picture book is just images, the author highlights important themes such as imagination can cope with the real world, do not limit the mind to the adventures imagination can bring, independence, explore the world, and imagination can bring friendship and unity among people.



A Fine, Fine School

Author: Shannon Creech

Illustrator: Harry Bliss

Publisher and Year: HarperCollins Publishers, 2001

Number of Pages: 29 Pages

Genre: Poetry, Fiction

A Fine, Fine School follows Tillie’s school day and all her activities. She attended such a fine, fine school filled with fine, fine students and teachers. The headmaster, Mr. Keene, is so impressed that he begins to declare school on every day of the week and all holidays. Tillie finally speaks up, Mr. Keene sees the exhaustion in the students and teachers, and finally changes school back to normal days of the week.

This text serves as a window into the minds of students in the effects of constantly being tested or always focused on schoolwork. As a mirror, it allows the reader to reflect and critique what “learning” really means. As a door, this text allows the audience the opportunity to see the problems in the school system and redefine what learning really means.

As in any school system, the principal (headmaster) holds the power in how the school functions. The students and teachers did not speak up to Mr. Keene about how they did not want school on weekends and holidays. Mr. Keene continued to include more days in the school year, including the entire summer. Though no culture is completely represented in this book, it does bring to light the issue of the amount of schooling younger children really need. It brings to light a very important issue: how much schooling is really necessary for students to learn? The students continuously look more exhausted and upset as the book goes on, which shows that “learning” in school is becoming pointless because none of the students can focus. When Tillie finally confronts Mr. Keene to tell him that because of so much schooling, she is missing out on learning important things such as learning to climb a tree. In a way, the students are the culture being represented in this story along with the “correct” form of schooling. In addition, the author brings to light another important issue: What is learning? Is learning academic curriculum the only true way of learning? In a creative way, the author emphasizes that learning encompasses more than just academic learning in school.

Perceptually, the images are large showing that the artwork is important (the illustrator is a famous cartoonist for the New York Times). The illustrator illustrates diversity among the students and school subjects. For the reader of this book, he or she can see him or herself represented in the story along with their subject interests. There is a repeat of phrases (fine, fine) showing Shannon Creech’s poetic touch.The text and image sometimes mirror one another by the text telling the story while the images express the emotions of the characters. For example, the post-it notes throughout the story express small messages into how the students are feeling. Through this comedic tale, the author establishes important themes such as learning does not just happen in schools, children need time to be children and explore the outside world, and naivety of administration to get to know students. Finally, this story makes it known that school learning is not fine, fine all the time!


The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend

Author and Illustrator: Dan Santat

Publisher and Year: Little, Brown and Company, 2014 (2015 Caldecott Winner)

Number of Pages: 38 Pages

Genre: Fantasy, Realistic Fiction

The Adventures of Beekle follows Beekle’s journey in finding his human friend. Instead of waiting for his friend to imagine him in his imaginary world, he courageously decides to go into the real world (the city) in search for his best friend.

As a mirror, it reflects a child’s creation of an imaginary friend. As a window, the story serves a unique view into how an imaginary friends view the “human world.” As a door, the reader is invited into the world of the creation of a child and his or her imaginary friend. In the beginning, the children hold the power because each imaginary friend anxiously waits to be found by a human friend. Beekle took control of his life, was tired of waiting, and did the unthinkable: set out to the real world to find his friend. Beekle quickly learned the “real world” was very different from anything he had ever imagined. The real world was not filled with creativity like his land was. However, he befriends a girl and they go on adventures to help bring imaginary friends to the real world. This power shift stands for the power of a child and his or her imagination. Though Beekle is a white “blob,” the people in a real world represent diverse races and cultures. This shows that the author/illustrator wanted to make this book relatable to children of all races and cultures. No specific human culture is being represented in this book. Instead, the culture is children. This book highlights the importance and benefit of creativity in diverse friendships.

Perceptually, lively colors are used in the imaginary world to symbolize the happiness among the imaginary people awaiting their human friends. On the contrary, dull colors are used in the real world to show how as people age, the world becomes less imaginative. However, the one place in the real world were bright colors are used is the park, where other imaginary friends are shown. This shows the reader that being outside can allow imagination to run free. Also, Beekle wears a crown, symbolizing he is different than his other imaginary friends. With this book being a Caldecott winner, artwork is heavily emphasized in this book. Through the artwork of the author/illustrator, the artwork portrays the creativity of children with the bright colors in the book. In addition, minimal words are used because the author heavily emphasized on the artwork. This was possibly done on purpose so that younger readers would look at the colors on the pages of the book and be inspired to let their imagination take them on an adventure. Also, the author makes the text look handwritten possibly symbolizing his personal journey presented through this story.

The most prevalent themes found in this whimsical story are that power lies within imagination, friends are found in unlikely shapes and sizes, it takes courage to face the real world, and imagination can bring happiness that never has an expiration date.




Marcel the Shell with Shoes On: Things About Me

Author: Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer-Camp

Illustrator: Amy Lind

Publisher and Year: Penguin Group, 2011

Number of Pages: 39 Pages

Genre: Fantasy

This book is based off of Jenny Slate’s (comedian) YouTube video sensation called Marcel the Shell ( The book follows Marcel’s adventures through a house as she describes how she completes daily tasks. This book serves as a mirror to allow the reader to reflect on themselves and the talents that make him or her special. As a window, the reader is able to see life from a different perspective. As a door, this book invites the audience to be creative and find innovative ways to make things work.

This book originally caught my attention because of how much I loved the YouTube video. This video always makes me laugh and I wanted to know if the authors (they were the original video makers) would do the same in book form. The book has no specific plot, but details Marcel’s adventures in a human house. With Marcel being a shell, no exact human race or culture is represented. However, I think that makes the character more relatable because she is not limited to a specific group. In the book, Marcel tells of how she completes her daily activities. For example, as opposed to sleeping on a bed, she sleeps on a piece of bread (she calls her bedroom the “breadroom”). In addition, she refers to using a ladle as an amusement park ride. Besides having comedic relief, the book sends an important message to the reader: the positivity in being unique. As Marcel tells of how she completes tasks, she begins the book by saying, “I like that about myself and I like myself, and I have a lot of other great qualities as well” (Fleischer-Camp and Slate, 2011). Though Marcel is different, she is not afraid to embrace and use her differences and talents to help her in her way through life.

Perceptually, images take up most of space, indicating the images are more important. This makes sense because the reader can visually see how Marcel completes all her tasks. In addition, the text is written in scribble and hard to read. This tells the reader that though the text helps the story, the most important aspect of book is the artwork. Structurally, there is a full text page and then a full image page. Adding on to what was mentioned above, the authors are reiterating the importance of the images. The close-up images of Marcel and images of Marcel shows the reader that she is the main character of the book and tells the reader to pay close attention to Marcel’s unique way of accomplishing tasks. The full-page images are not framed while pages with images are framed, signaling the reader to engage with the images as opposed to the text. The most important themes this book offers are being unique is perfectly acceptable, doing things differently makes one unique, embrace one’s talents and differences, and make the most of life and what is has to offer.


Ruth and the Green Book

Author: Calvin Alexander Ramsey

Illustrator: Floyd Cooper

Publisher and Year: Carolrhoda Books, 2010

Number of Pages: 29 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

This historical fiction tells of Ruth and her family’s drive to Alabama to visit Ruth’s grandmother in 1952. Ruth’s family originates from Chicago and travels to Alabama with Daddy’s new Sea Mist Green Buick (Ramsey, 2010). On their travels, Ruth and her family encounter segregation and learn of the Negro Motorist Green Book, a pamphlet that helped African Americans travel and listed places they were allowed to go (hotels, gas stations, and restaurants). Though the story of Ruth is fictional, the book highlights the real historical event of the struggle of travel for African Americans ten years before the Civil Rights Movement.

This book serves as a window because it gives the reader (at a young age) an insight into the struggles of African Americans and historical information about Jim Crow Laws. By serving as a mirror, it reminds the audience that segregation is not good and regardless of skin color, a person is a living human being first. In addition, it serves as a door because the author presents this information to the reader in the hopes that the reader is an advocate against unequal treatment of people. This story clearly represents the African American cultures and their struggles to survive within the confines of Jim Crow Laws in the 1950s. During this time, African Americans were not allowed in certain places in the South solely because of their skin color. As terrible as this was, this book does highlight on a very positive note for African American culture: the sense of community and friendship. Through the “green book,” African Americans met with others in various places on the road and were able to share stories with each other. As Ruth shared when her family stayed in an inn one night, “It felt like I was part of one big family” (Ramsey, 2010). Through the obstacles of segregation and unequal treatment, African Americans were able to come together as one to enjoy times to share their experiences and feel like a family outside of the struggles on the road.

Perceptually, the images are very large showing that the images express the emotions of the text. At the same time, the text is easy to find, meaning that the words are just as important as well. In addition, last page of the book is historical story of the green book to allow the reader to learn the historical facts of the event. The pictures in the story have blurry background showing that the green book is an event in the past. At the same time, the facial expressions of the characters are detailed so that the reader understands the emotional hardships of segregation among group. In addition, the dialect of South is used to be historically in line with the historical event of the green book. Through this book, the African Americans culture honored and remembered for their struggles with segregation. In addition, the reader learns of a real historical event that goes unnoticed. Most important, the biggest lesson of this book is skin color does not make one superior.



Captain Jack and the Pirates

Author: Peter Bently

Illustrator: Helen Oxenbury

Publisher and Year: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015

Number of Pages: 30 Pages

Genre: Fantasy, Fiction

This story tells of the tale of three boys (Jack, Zack, and Caspar) and their whimsical adventures at the beach. The three boys encounter an enemy pirate ship that has the treasure the boys are seeking. The boys get shipwrecked on an island, but still continue on “hungry for glory and enemy booty” (Bently, 2015).

The story is used as a window because it shows the imagination of younger children and the crazy adventures they can make in any kind of place. As a mirror, it reminds a reader of any age the fun and joy of using one’s imagination to create anything. Also, it serves as a door to encourage all that imagination never dies and is the opportunity to be anything one wants to be. For the most part, the power is in the hands of the three boys because they collectively create and engage in the world with the enemy pirates. As the story goes on, they do indeed find the treasure: an abundance of cupcakes, soda, ice cream, and cake. In addition, the reader finds out that the “enemy pirates” were just the adults the three boys came with, attempting to get them ready to leave the beach. This book is not very diverse in terms of skin color, with the exception of Captain Jack’s right hand man Zack (African American). Also, all the “enemy pirates” are Caucasian. As one looks through the images, the adults in the story were the boys’ parents (both Caucasian) and act as if Zack is their son. Based on this, I can say the book is a little more diverse because the illustrator is showing a mixed family. At the same time, the family has only three boys and the only female figure in the story is the mother who brings the boys ice cream at the end of the book. In this story, it is mainly a male and Caucasian culture represented. In a like manner, the culture of young children’s imagination is represented in the creative adventure of the three boys.

Perceptually, the words and text mirror one another signaling the importance of both the image and text. In addition, the pictures take up most of page but text is easy to find. This means that though the images are important, the reader can focus on the text as well. Structurally, words within the text rhyme, allowing the reader to learn a simple structure of poetry and other words. On the contrary, there are some images are colored while some are black and white. The ones with color symbolize the boys on their adventures while black and white stand for the real world. The three boys also wear similar swimsuits standing for the time period of the story and/or making them equal. In addition, the beach is backdrop for the boys’ adventure, which means their imagination, can be very creative in a simple setting. Prevalent themes from this book are imagination never dies and anyone the opportunity to be anything they want to be.


Dario and the Whale

Author: Cheryl Lawton Malone

Illustrator/ Photographer: Bistra Masseva

Publisher and Year: Albert Whitman and Company, 2016

Number of Pages: 29 pages

Genre: Fiction

This book tells of the tale of Dario’s adventures at the shore every spring. Dario and his mother move to the shore every spring so Dario’s mom is able to work. Dario, a boy of Brazilian culture, struggles to fit in except when he befriends a whale in the ocean. This story serves as a window for the intended audience because it tells of Dario’s struggles to fit in at the seashore due to his cultural differences. For example, when Dario went to the shore, no one wanted to play with him because he wanted to play soccer while the other boys were playing baseball.

In the beginning of the story, Dario’s mother holds the power because she brought Dario to the shore for her job. In addition, Dario does not fit in with the other children because his cultural likes are different from the other children’s likes. At the same time, the reader sees a parallel of a whale struggling to fit in with its atmosphere and fish in the ocean as well. The story follows the bonding of Dario and the whale throughout the rest of the story so that by the end of story, Dario gains power and confidence in realizing that he does indeed have a friend at the seashore. The story begins by stating that Dario and his mother come from a Brazilian background, which causes a struggle for Dario to fit in at the beach. Because his Brazilian traditions and culture is different from the other children at the beach, the other children do not want to interact with him. Regardless of Dario and the whale being different, they both manage to establish a positive friendship with each other. Through this book, my understanding of culture has not really changed from what I have already learned. Instead, it reiterates the importance and acceptance of diversity. It shows that though people have different cultures, it does not mean that all groups have to stay segregated. Dario and the Whale shows that people can have different interests and likes but can still be friends.

There is very little text while the images take up most the page to show the artwork speaks more than the text. The intermingling of Brazilian words with English honors two identities of Dario: Brazilian and American. For example, Dario holding a soccer ball stands for the importance of soccer to the Brazilian culture. At the same time, he wears the colors of the Brazilian flag, honoring the Brazilian culture. Dario’s struggles parallel with the whale’s struggle to fit in showing Dario is not alone in the struggle to feel welcomed. The text is next to the living figure in the story indicating that the character is completing what the text is saying. Colors and images are bright and cheerful to represent the excitement of Dario in finding a friend while also symbolizing the beautiful nautical colors of the ocean. This storybook conveys the messages that friends can be found in unlikely places, the ocean can connect people with nature, and differences among people make an individual special.



Just Like Josh Gibson

Author: Angela Johnson

Illustrator/ Photographer: Beth Peck

Publisher and Year: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2004

Number of Pages: 29 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

The story of this book is about an African American girl who wants to play baseball just like Josh Gibson, “the Babe Ruth of the Negros Leagues” (Johnson, 2004). Grandmama tells the story in flashbacks of her growing up loving baseball but never getting the chance (with the exception of one time) to play in a real game because she was a girl.

This text serves as a door, window, and mirror all at the same time. First, it serves as a window because the reader sees a story of a girl of color surpassing societal norms of the time and proving she can play baseball as well as the boys. This aspect of the story not only breaks racial stereotypes, but also gender stereotypes that girls cannot be as good as boys at sports. Second, it serves as a mirror to call upon the reader to reflect on how he/she handles stereotypes among different groups of people. Thirdly, it serves as a door to show that women have the opportunity to do the same sports and activities as men.

The entire tale of this story is Grandmama referring back to her childhood playing baseball. Jack Gibson was an African American baseball player that unfortunately never made it to the major leagues for baseball (Johnson 2004). With Grandmama already being a woman, an African American, and the setting of the flashback in the 1940s, Grandmama had no power. But, that did not stop Grandmama’s father from teaching her how to play baseball so that she could be just like Josh Gibson. Two cultures are noticeably identified and represented in this story: women and African Americans. As a woman, Grandmama was able to overcome barriers and show she was just as good as the boys in a male dominated activity, baseball.

At the same time, this book gives respect to the African American community by acknowledging their culture, contribution, and love for baseball as well. In regards to my understanding of culture, this story speaks and represents African Americans in a sport favored by America but also, it shows girls that they are not limited to anything simply for being a girl. Though the images take up most of pages, the words on the page are easy to find showing that the images and text are both important to the story as a whole. The characters of Josh Gibson and Grandmama (as a little girl) are looking to the right, symbolizing them both breaking gender and racial barriers and moving forward. The colors in the story are dull and faded possibly representing the whole flashback, and/or the disappearance of racial and gender stereotypes in sports. The dialect of Grandmama speaks represents her African American culture. The words and images mirror one another, showing a clear picture of the flashback Grandmama is trying to convey to her granddaughter (in the present time). The biggest ideologies of this storybook are girls can play with the boys, race does not make someone inferior or superior, and girls are not to be limited to things simply because they are girls.