Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Books That Will Blow You Down ; It's Time to Pig out on the Year's Best-Looking Children's Books

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Books That Will Blow You Down ; It's Time to Pig out on the Year's Best-Looking Children's Books

Article excerpt

Question: What's better than a fresh new picture book?

Answer: One with a shiny Caldecott Medal on the cover.

his year's prestigious medal will adhere to the cover of The Three Pigs, written and illustrated by David Wiesner. That was announced Monday, at the American Library Association's meeting in New Orleans. The Caldecott Medal is awarded annually in recognition of the most outstanding picture book for children published in the United States.

"The Three Pigs" is a wonderfully playful romp in and out of stories - and possibilities. In Wiesner's imaginative version, after building their homes of straw, sticks, and bricks, the industrious pigs are blown right off the page and out of their own story by the huff-puffing wolf. Folding one of their abandoned pages into a paper airplane, the pigs fly off to visit other nursery rhymes and folk tales. Wiesner moves his characters among illustration styles with magnificent ease.

At one point, they visit a cartoon rendering of "Hey Diddle Diddle." (Randolph Caldecott - the Englishman for whom the Caldecott Medal is named - illustrated this familiar nursery rhyme himself in the early 1880s.) The trio of porcine travelers finally heads home, where they incorporate new chums into the original tale. Visual puns and allusions to other literary works abound in this surprise- packed volume. It's one to be pored over again and again.

Wiesner is no newcomer to the Caldecott winner's circle. In previous years, he won the Caldecott Medal for "Tuesday" (1992) and Caldecott Honors for "Free Fall" (1989) and "Sector 7" (2000).

Runners-up

Three other fine picture books were Caldecott Honor winners this year. All have true-life stories as their starting point, but each is illustrated in a decidedly differently manner.

Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a picture-book biography about King, written by Doreen Rappaport. The brief text, interlaced with quotes from King, allows Bryan Collier's stunning collage-and-watercolor illustrations to give power and poignancy to the book. Illustrations are large, often filling a full double page. …

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