|English painter and book illustrator Randolph Caldecott (1846-1886), |
for whom the award is named [source: NPR]
This morning, this year's winner was announced: John Klassen for This is Not My Hat...
It's a really nicely illustrated book, but I honestly thought Klassen's other book Extra Yarn, by Mac Barnett, would win (and I like the story better)!
I have not reviewed This is Not My Hat, but you can Read Roger Sutton's thoughts here at the NY Times. He notes:
A plucky little fish has stolen a dapper little hat from a sleeping big fish. The fish is upfront with us about its theft (“This hat is not mine; I just stole it”), and prattles on about just why he is going to get away with the hat and the crime (“And even if he does notice that it’s gone, he probably won’t know it was me who took it”). Meanwhile, the pictures show the big fish waking up and methodically, inexorably hunting the little fish down until they are both deep in the weeds, from which the big fish emerges alone. Only God knows what happened, but the big fish has recouped his hat.
As was true with “I Want My Hat Back,” in which a rabbit and a bear provide the dialectic, the ethical position in “This Is Not My Hat” is complicated. Don’t steal, obviously. But given that children’s literature champions the small and the weak, there is also this: Don’t get caught. Depending on where you are on the political spectrum, “This Is Not My Hat” could be a cautionary tale of either righteous class struggle or uppity proletarians. The decision to separate the action in the cool black, gray and green underwater noir pictures from the postulates of the text (“And even if he does guess it was me, he won’t know where I am going”) means that not all picture-book audiences will be old enough to thoroughly get it. I read the book to a 3-year-old, but it was too deep for him; when I watched a 6-year-old and her father read it together, they were appropriately and gleefully scandalized.
If you didn't read my review of Extra Yarn, you can find my post here. I love the message of this sweet story:
Jon Klassen's understated style matches this quirky, sweetly told tale. At the very beginning, we're told: "This looks like an ordinary box full of ordinary yarn. But it turns out it isn't." A girl named Annabelle come across the box "filled with yarn of every color" on a cold winter day in her cold, drab town. With the seemingly endless supply of yarn, she makes rainbow colored knitted creations for everyone (and everything) in the town - even the mailboxes and buildings.
A pompous and greedy archduke appears on the scene and tries to buy the box from Annabelle, who's not interested in selling it for anything. He manages to have it stolen, only to find it empty. In a satisfying ending, we realize the box wants to be with someone who is generous in sharing any "extra" with others!
I honestly think all the candidates for the medal are amazing picture books - it's such a personal taste thing, in my opinion, and hard to pick a winner - which is why I don't follow this stuff real closely. (To see all the contenders, click here). Have you read both Klassen books? What do you think?