Friday, December 12, 2014

Reflections on the Caldecott Books and The Last Resolution of the Month

Now that December is already almost half over I decided I should do a little reflection write up on my resolution of the month project.

The November resolution of the month challenge was probably my favorite of the year.  Not all that surprising, really, since it was a reading challenge and I read every single day.  I love to read.  That is why I am not even picky about format--they each have pros and cons--and I just like to maximize my reading potential so I have an ebook, audiobook, and print book going nearly all the time.   A lot of the time I have a children's book or two going on top of my regular print reading, too.  I told Matt it was a really fun challenge--not about self-improvement as the others had been.  To which he replied that he figures reading probably still counts as self-improvement.  Either way...

The Caldecott winners were amazing.  There were too many awesome ones to really go over each in depth, but there were a few that stand out above the rest in my mind.  There are two which are in a dead tie for my new favorite of the batch.  They are A Tree is Nice by Udry and Simont and Joseph Had A Little Overcoat by Taback.  I admired the story and the art a whole heck of a lot in both.  I also as quite taken with Owl Moon by Yolen and Schoenherr and Ox-Cart Man by Hall and Cooney.  They are all four quite simple, natural, earthy stories though, so I am not surprised they are my favorites.

It was indeed interesting to read them in chronological order, as I thought it might be.  I noticed a trend toward stories from other lands and/or cultures, particularly Africa, but also Asia, and Europe, as well as tales from the Native American tradition.  This seemed to be the case especially in the older award winners.  Arrow to the Sun by McDermott retells a Navajo story with such captivating illustrations that I looked over each page numerous times, taking in the details.  It was so bright and geometric and appealed to me greatly.

The Little House by Burton and Joseph Had A Little Overcoat by Taback, which I already mentioned, had fantastic illustrative techniques.  In the former the house is dead square in the middle of the page and throughout the story it stays in that place as everything changes around it.  Its a swell tool for demonstrating the drastic changes in the world that take place during the story.  In Joseph Had A Little Overcoat there is a cut-out on the page which absolutely carries the story along as Joseph's coat wears out and is transformed into a vest, scarf, tie, etc.  It makes the already richly illustrated book more interactive and fun--sort of like a pop-up book, but not quite.

So You Want to Be President? by St. George and Small was fabulously education and terrifically illustrated as well.  It had a page where it grouped presidents with the same name to show there had been six James, Four Johns, etc.  It included an illustration of the four Williams dressed up like cheerleaders that made me laugh out loud.  Meanwhile the Andrew presidents were on a nearby bench.  Andrew Jackson was giving those William cheerleaders a very skeptical look.  The whole book was great, but that one page was spectacular.

The only one I had a hard time with was the very first one--Animals of the Bible by Lathrop and Fish.  If it hadn't been for the challenge I would have totally skipped it.  It wasn't hard, exactly, just rather boring.  The illustrations were all black and white pencil drawings accompanied by Bible stories using the King James style text.  I wasn't that impressed with the drawings and I find reading the King James text unpleasantly flowery and dry.  After I finished it I had a moment of pity for the children of 1938.  As in, "That was the best illustrated children's book published that whole year?!"  I am spoiled by having so many reading options and, well, color printing.

It was good--a real nice challenge.  I even finished a few days early.

And so the last month in my resolution of the month club is in full swing.  Wild.  What a fast year!  For December I am trying a little grooming challenge.  I am brushing my hair at least 50 strokes per day.

This is a bit of antiquated health and beauty advice which I've seen and heard about, but never considered for myself before.  Typically I think its 100 strokes, but counting out 50 seemed like a lot to me already.  From what I've read this advice is centered around an out-dated cultural habit which might make me an ideal candidate for it.  It was common when women didn't wash their hair so darn much, usually only once per week.  The idea is that thorough brushing distributes the oil from the scalp throughout the rest of the hair.  As a result the roots don't get so greasy looking.   I am intrigued by that.  There is also a lot to be read about how brushing stimulates growth and keeps the scalp healthy, too.  I don't know about that, but the distributing oil make a sort of sense I can wrap my mind around.  So, I am giving it a go.

To be honest, some days I don't even brush my hair at all.  Maybe its a hangover from my dreadlocked days.  They are the exception, to be sure, but its been known to happen when I just slap it into a pony tail or cover it all with a scarf.  As a general rule I just can't be bothered too much about my hair.  I like it long, but it has to be low maintenance, too.  I wash it a couple times a week, I give it an apple cider vinegar rinse, I brush it just enough to get the snarls out and that is it.  Its long enough--and I like to wear it loose--that soon its snarly again anyways.  It gets a little frizzy around the crown, too.

But, this month I am going to see if a little dedicated attention makes any difference.  A few nights ago my friend, Hannah, stroked my hair and commented that it was very soft.  I don't know if its all the brushing, but perhaps.


  1. Thank you so much for the book review! I have two very young grandsons. Rather than buying them useless gifts for holidays and birthdays, the gifts from 'Mimi' are always books. (With the occasional sucker thrown in!) It's been my mission, since day one, to find stories that weren't flat, colorless and boring. So, this is a great post for me! I have a tote in the basement with saved books. I'm going to check out all the books you mentioned and set some aside for the next gift-giving opportunity!

  2. I am so glad it is helpful! It was a really fun little project. Books are always a swell gift, if you ask me! Huzzah for budding readers! And generous Mimis to keep them in good books!


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