Publishing: Viking Press, New York, 1949 (originally 1946)
Awards: Caldecott Honor 1947
Description: Timothy Turtle has a pretty good life, but he is sad because no one notices him. He wants to be famous and gets advice from the pines and the frog. He decides to go out and seek his fame by climbing up took-a-look hill. Not only is the climb steep and challenging, but he gets hit with a boulder and flipped over on his back. He rocks and rocks until he rights himself, continues his journey and makes it home a hero, vowing never to venture away from home again.
whimsical, somewhat outdated language (dunderhead, lament, etc), text forming pictures, rhymes, repetition (swimmingly, swimmingly, swimmingly, swim..)
Programming: Before reading, I would ask students what they think makes someone a hero, or brave. After reading I might have them list the qualities that make Timothy a hero. Because of the sing-song text of this book, I would also probably use it to segue into poetry in some way.
Publishing: Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1947
Awards: 1948 Caldecott Honor Book
Description: A trio of tired, hungry soldiers coming back from the war stop in a small village to ask for something to eat. The villagers, seeing the men coming, hide all of their food away and tell the soldiers they don’t have any when asked. The soldiers come up with a plan to make “Stone soup” and in doing so trick the villagers to bring out the ingredients for the soup. The town is fooled, they have a large feast with the soup, bread, and cider, then they dance the night away. They let the soldiers sleep in their homes, and the soldiers leave the next day full and well-rested with the townspeople none the wiser.
Programming: Before reading, ask students to tell you about soups they have eaten and what ingredients go in them, maybe even read some recipes. After reading, recap and have them explain how the soldiers tricked the townspeople. If possible, make your own soup.
Publishing: Doubleday, New York, 1957 (originally 1939)
Awards: Caldecott Winner
Description: The authors tell the story of Abe Lincoln’s life, all the way from his birth to the end of the Civil War, not covering his death. The events are told in a narrative, doing more to establish the setting and Lincoln’s personality than covering many hard facts. Illustrations are pencil drawings. Some are black and white, some colored, some are drawings that form a border for a center block of text, some are full page illustrations, and some are character drawings in the middle of the page. The inside covers contain beautiful color maps of the area that Abe lived in.
Programming: Perfect for a unit about Lincoln or the Civil War. Even with its older publishing date this is a great text to introduce students to this American Leader. It would be good to read around President’s Day. Students might compare and contrast the life of Lincoln and Washington, or talk about what made Lincoln a good leader.
Publishing: Viking, New York, 1969 (original 1941)
Awards: Caldecott Winner
Description: A pair of Mallard ducks try to find a suitable place to raise ducklings, but the female vetoes any place that might have foxes, turtles, or lots of vehicles with wheels nearby. Finally, they settle up the river from a public park to have the ducklings. After they hatch, the male goes back down the river to the public park, and when the ducklings are old enough they and the mother follow. Only, they must get through tons of traffic in the city to do so. Luckily, they have the help of some policemen and make it there to a little island in the middle of the river where the father is already waiting. Illustrations are what seems to be brown crayon drawings, very detailed. Unlike Newberry, he focuses more on the illustrations than the text.
Programming: There are several other wonderful books on ducks that could be read with this story. Students might learn all about the duck-how his feathers are water resistant, what he eats, where he lives, etc.
Publishing: Harper and Brothers, New York, 1940
Awards: Caldecott Honor
Description: April’s father constantly tells their cat Sheba that the family has a “one cat apartment” and that she should not have kittens. Sure enough, the cat does have kittens-three of them. April, of course, becomes attached and wants to keep them all, but her father is insistent. Her parents tell April that she can either keep Sheba or her favorite kitten, but the other three must go. Soon a family friend and her son take one of the kittens, and a neighbor take the other. April must decide between Sheba and her favorite kitten, Brenda. Just as April decides she cannot forsake her old cat, the family decides that they need to move to a bigger apartment: a “two cat apartment.”
Programming: This would pair well with Newberry’s other pet books, including Marshmallow, another Caldecott Honor. One family that read this book with their children reported that their girls pointed out that the cat could have been spayed or neutered, and the family had to explain that that was not a common procedure when the book was written. In that way, it might be a segue into the history of the time period. It is also simply a heart-warming story about a girl who has to make a tough choice.
Publishing: Harper Brothers, New York, 1942
Awards: Caldecott Honor book
Description: Oliver is a “bachelor” cat with no wife or kittens, and he rather likes it that way. When his owner, Miss Tilly, brings home a new creature-a small, white rabbit named Marshmallow, Oliver is at first frightened and then somewhat territorial. Miss Tilly keeps them in separate rooms, but one day Oliver manages to get out into the room where Marshmallow is frolicking. Right about the time Oliver decides to pounce, Marshmallow has decided that the cat must be his new mother, and comes right up to give him a kiss on the nose. The two become inseparable. Newberry has very accurately encompassed rabbit ownership and behavior, and the punctuation of Miss Tilly’s poems adds to the entertainment value. There is a lot of white space, a lot of text, and the illustrations seem to be charcoal or crayon and don’t take up the whole page.
Programming: This would be a good book to use for a discussion about different types of pets. Many students are probably familiar with cats and dogs, but do not know anything about the care and keeping of more exotic pets, such as rabbits. A show and tell with a very calm rabbit (they frighten easily) would be wonderful.
The friendship between the two pets is also interesting, and several other titles could be found dealing with this theme, such as Friends: True Stories of Extraordinary Animal Friendships by Catherine Thimmesh or Suryia and Roscoe: The True Story of an Unlikely Friendship by Bhagavan “Doc” Antle.
Publishing: Junior Books, Doubleday & Company, Garden City; NY, 1945
Awards: 1946 Caldecott Honor
Description: The book begins and ends with a shepherd boy singing. He has one little black lamb in his flock, and this lamb always loves to wander off. When the shepherd boy takes them higher in the mountain than he ever has before, the spot is so peaceful that neither he, nor his dog, nor the lamb’s mother sheep notice the lamb wander off. They search high and low, call for him, and the dog goes searching for the lamb to no avail. Finally, the shepherd must take his flock back down the mountain. However, that night he cannot sleep because he is worried about the little black lamb. He and his dog go back up the mountain, and the dog scares away a mountain lion just as the right moment. The shepherd carries the little black lamb back to safety, singing to it the same song he has sung on page one.
Programming: This would serve as a good parallel to the biblical story about the lost lamb.
Note: Golden MacDonald is a pen name for Margaret Wise Brown.