Thursday, March 26, 2015

Randolph Caldecott - The Man Who Couldn't Stop Drawing -#PPBF

      The longer I participate in Perfect Picture Book Friday, the fussier I am about my selections. I've come to realize that the number of books is staggering, and since no one can read them all, I save my recommendations for the truly special ones.
     Why this prologue? Because my recommendation today is unusual. A picture book for grades 5-9 (NOT ages 5-9!). So if you're looking for something for the little ones, this isn't for you, but it is definitely a book for anyone interested in the history of children's books.

TITLE: Randolph Caldecott -The Man Who Could Not Stop Drawing   

  AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR: Leonard S. Marcus 
from Macmillan Publishers

Publisher: Frances Foster Books, FS&G, 2013
Intended Age: 10-14
Themes: NONFICTION, Illustration
Opening lines: "
Two swans at the water's edge trade bewildered glances when they notice a little frog poking his head out of the river. The frog is clutching a paper--a letter it would seem--which he reads with a look of total absorption."

Synopsis: The biography of "the father of the modern picture book" (from the front flap copy).

What I like about this book:
As a picture book writer and enthusiast, I knew that Randolph Caldecott was an illustrator. I knew that we honor the best illustrators in the field each year with a medal given in his name. But I didn't know a whole lot more. This book is an "old school" comprehensive biography. A birth to death look at a man that accomplished volumes of work in the 39 years he lived. I connected with the fact that Caldecott started in one career--deemed to be a safe way to earn money--and found himself drawn to the second career that he loved.
     Reading the book I learned WHY Caldecott is viewed as the father of the modern picture book. He wasn't the first to illustrate books for children, but his focus on active rather than static illustrations, and the idea that illustrations could, and should, add to the text were revolutionary for the 1800's. The book is text dense, as you would expect a book for grades 5-9 to be.
Balance of text and illustration
Resources:
  •  Macmillan Publishers provides a peek inside the book here.
  •  Make a list of the Caldecott medal winners. How many have you read?
  •  Treasure hunt! Look carefully at a picture book. How many things can you find in the illustrations that aren't mentioned in the text?
  •  If you're interested in reading more picture books on the subject of art and creativity, I found a wonderful list of children's fiction and nonfiction compiled on this subject by the Art Institute of Chicago.
  •  Try your hand at drawing something in motion. (It's in motion, not you! Although interestingly the book notes that part of Caldecott's style was developed by drawing on a moving train as he traveled from Manchester to London, England!)
This review is part of PPBF (perfect picture book Friday) where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. Along with tons of writing wisdom, she keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. #PPBF

14 comments:

  1. What a great pick! You're right, many of us know of Caldecott medal, but not much about the illustrator. Adding action/motion to picture books, was such a leap in the 1800s. This is also a book for adults. Great activities.

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    1. Honestly, if it weren't shelved in J Bio at the library with picture book trim size I'd say it was for adults. I can't see as many children fascinated by this.

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  2. Yes, this is interesting! I would love to know more about Caldecott and this book seems like the place to go. Great selection for PPBF, Wendy! Not a picture book but a book explaining what an award in Picture book looks like and how it came about.

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    1. It is 64 pages long and is filed as a children's book. Just for BIG children who we often forget are still able to enjoy picture books.

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  3. I feel like I actually need to buy this one, Wendy. I love everything Marcus writes.

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  4. I love his writing too, and feel he has been making a wonderful contribution to childen's literature with his books! Go Leonard!

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    1. The back matter and source material is astounding.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Lindsey!

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  6. I've looked at this book... definitely for older readers and jam-packed with info.

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    1. And yet it's a picture book! So people who want to tackle this long form, go for it!

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  7. Biographies are so interesting. A great way to introduce kids, heck, and adults to figures that have touched history in one way or another. Thanks for sharing this one.

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    1. I'm guilty of being "familiar" with a lot of names, but not knowing a lot about the people. Picture books are a great way to learn.

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