Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Chalk vs A Sick Day for Amos McGee
I didn't do this to pick on A Sick Day for Amos McGee. I like this story. The illustrations are pleasant, but I just didn't feel that the pulled the reader into the magic of the story. As an adult that reads an incredible amount of books written for children, I am aware of the fact that I'm not always going to like books that the children just love (Junie B. Jones and Captain Underpants to name just two.) However, I thought I had a pretty good grasp of what constitutes a magical illustration. My polling my students about which of the three books had the best illustrations was just my way checking to see if I was off base. I was pleased to find that even though I'm new at Chinook Trail, my students and I were in sync on this. Now, there were hundreds of picture books published in 2010 and in the interest of fairness, there is no way my students saw even a fraction of the books that the committee reviewed. Yet, I'm pretty sure the committee was aware of Chalk and Max & Art. Some of the committee members are librarians and book sellers. These two books were a hot topic among some members of those communities. Yet neither even made it to Honor status. I can't help but wonder if this not another case of lets pick a book that we as adults think children should just love and read. I'm a firm believer that just because a book has children in it or is supposedly written for children does not automatically mean it is a children's book. I understand that the quality of writing is important, but if a book doesn't appeal to children, the intended audience, is really a children's book, especially an award winning children's book? (I find this to be more of a problem with Newbery and Battle of the Books titles than I do Caldecott titles.)
That's why I am big fan of book awards that are voted on by children. Prior to winter break I spent some time sharing with the Chinook students some of the books nominated for the Colorado Children's Book Award. Check back in February when I will post the titles selected by Chinook students. And who knows, maybe Chalk and Art & Max will be nominated for the 2012 Colorado Children's Book Awards. I hope so, especially Chalk.
And just in case you were going to suggest I serve on the Caldecott Committee some time in the future, that is already on my Wish List of things to do.