Monday, January 9, 2012

Book Talk Tuesday: Caldecott Challenge post #1

I'm taking on a new reading challenge, again with picture books. What can I say...I just love 'em! Back in November, I joined my students in reading a picture book every day to celebrate Picture Book Month. 

This challenge is different. There's no time limit (no pressure!) but the task is fixed: Read every Caldecott Medal and Honor book since 1938.

That's 306 books! Here's my first one...

Kitten's First Full Moon, by Kevin Henkes 
Caldecott Medal winner, 2005

This book has grown on me as I've read it over and over with students as part of our yearly Caldecott unit. 

The expressions on the kitten's face, the subtle use of shades of grey, the layout of the pictures, and the patterned text combine to produce an example of stunning simplicity.

The kitten thinks the moon is a bowl of milk and tries various ways to catch it. Period. That's the whole story. But the way we are led through her escapades elicits our emotions: we laugh, feel sorry for her, feel sad for her, and finally...when she returns home and finds a bowl of milk waiting on the stoop, feel relieved for her!

Sometimes students ask, "That's it??" after hearing this one. So we go back and really examine the decisions Henkes made and the effect of each choice.

For example:
- Why do some pictures fill the page while others are boxed in and others have fuzzy edges?
- What differences in layout can we notice and what effect does each have? For example, a tall thin picture accentuates the cat's climb up the tree.
- Why use only black and grey? What are the strengths of this choice and how does Henkes handle the limitations?
- How does Henkes convey kitten's emotions? Which lines in the pictures contribute most?

This story makes an excellent introduction to some of the vocabulary* we'll be using throughout our Caldecott unit and provides a simple overview of picture book design. AND, we have a few laughs to boot!

1 comment:

  1. I think this is a very dear book and appreciate some of the questions you ask of it with your students to deepen their appreciation!