Pictures, pictures in the book, tell me the greatest story of them all!
We have repeatedly stressed the benefits of reading - the Whizpa team is obsessed with reading! Intuitively, you may think reading is all about words. But what about kids who have no language mastery yet? Worry not - pictures are great for “reading” too! Illustrations are an equally powerful medium for telling moving stories and teaching important life lessons. For that reason, there are many respected book honours that recognize the contribution of illustrated books to children’s literature annually.
In the past, we have mainly based our book recommendations on the prestigious Newbery Medal. In this article, we will introduce another equally prestigious award for picture books - the Caldecott Medal.
Like the Newbery Medal, the Caldecott is also awarded by the Association for Library Service to Children. In contrast to the Newbery Medal which recognizes children’s books that are predominantly word-based, the Caldecott Medal annually recognizes the most outstanding picture books.
Literature books tell stories through words, picture books tell stories through pictures. Illustrations can be powerful expressions of abstract ideas, emotions, and big lessons. They are great for inquisitive children who have not yet acquired language mastery to understand more complex literary expressions.
Here, Whizpa would like to recommend 5 Caldecott Winner and Honor books from 2016-17, with some sample excerpts from each book to showcase how powerful illustrations can be.
“They All Saw a Cat” by Brendan Wenzel
The book is very self-explanatory - this picture book is about a cat being seen. Sounds a bit mundane? The clever twist of this picture book is the usage of illustrations to depict how the same cat is seen from different perspectives. Different animals have different visual systems. How does the cat look like from a bee’s perspective? What about from the perspectives of goldfish who live in a fish tank? In developmental psychology, one of the developmental milestones of children is the development of the “Theory of Mind” - understanding that others have perspectives and beliefs that are different from one’s own. “They All Saw a Cat” teaches children this important lesson through lively illustrations depicting each species’ unique point of view.
“Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear” by Lindsay Mattick & Sophie Blackall
Whatever generation you and your children are from, Winnie the Pooh is a familiar character to all. Pooh’s signature jolly smile and friendship with Christopher Robin has melted the hearts of millions. However, did you know that Winnie the Pooh is based on a true story? Winnie was a female bear cub rescued by Captain Harry Colebourn during World War I. The book depicts her long journey from Canada to London, and how she met her best friend Christopher Robin. This picture book about the world’s most famous bear is accompanied by actual photos of the original Winnie that further adds a genuine touch to the supposedly fictional character. Finding Winnie will enlighten anyone’s day with the heartwarming friendship.
“Trombone Shorty” by Troy Andrews & Bryan Collier
Remember our feature on brass instruments? This book is an autobiographical picture book by an accomplished trombone artist, Tony Andrews. In it, the author depicts his musical journey. Now a distinguished Grammy-nominated artist, the book is a vivid reminder of the importance of relentlessly staying true to one’s passion in order to succeed.
“Waiting” by Kevin Henkes
Adults wait on a daily basis. We wait for our train to arrive, wait for our food until it is served. But how do we explain such an essential part of our lives to children? “Waiting” by Kevin Henkes is full of mellow pastel illustrations that depict different animal toys - the protagonists of the book - waiting for different things. The owl waits for the moon, while the puppy on the sled waits for the snow, and the rabbit waits for nothing in particular. The mellow contentment from the simple things the animal toys await and even the process of waiting per se is therapeutic.
“Leave Me Alone!” By Vera Brosgol
The love of grandparents for their grandchildren is universal. In this lovely book with a title that seemingly conveys frustration, Grandma seeks a little solitude from the noise and crowding from her grandchildren (whom she dearly loves) in order to finish knitting a scarf for them. In the quest for tranquility, not even hoards of grizzly bears or even aliens can stop Grandma from knitting! The book sings to anyone who from time to time seeks time on their own. Having time to be alone is indeed a ritual all kids need to learn growing up amidst hustle and bustle.
These recommended books are available at the book retailers listed below. Grab some books for your children today and be sure to leave a review for the bookshop on Whizpa!
"They All Saw a Cat"
"Leave Me Alone"