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Posted April 16, 2013 in NoveList Bookshelf

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NoveList staff shares beloved Caldecott winners in honor of the award's 75th anniversary.





Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus

Written and illustrated by Mo Willems

"True story."

Hands down, the Caldecott honor book that caught my eye and stood out from the others is Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems (2004).

This book's deceptively simple illustrations show Pigeon's remarkable range of emotions: from scheming to hilarity to frustration to determination. All this and more, through a limited color palette with just a few black lines that bring out a full array of expressions using Pigeon's dramatic eye -- turned just-so, that adds so much more to text of the story. Story and illustrations are a perfect pairing with both anticipated expressions and surprises at every turn of the page.

While there's no question that the youngest of storytime audiences will relate to this attention-grabbing read-aloud, that doesn't mean that it won't appeal to a broad variety of listeners. From preschool children to adult audiences, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus has had more requests for repeat read-alouds than this school librarian can even count.

In fact, several recent Facebook posts by some of my favorite young adults mentioned wanting to hear Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus read aloud again.

-- Beth Gerall, Juvenile Content Lead

Owl Moon

by Jane Yolen; illustrated by John Schoenherr

"When you go owling you don't need words or warm or anything but hope."

I recently revisited Owl Moon, a childhood favorite of mine. It is a quiet and beautiful winter story of a special night shared between a parent and child.

I had forgotten the details of this story of a father and daughter who venture out one winter night in a forest to look for an owl, though the cover image of them going down a snowy hill illuminated by a full moon has stayed with me. Re-reading this book, I was struck most by the poetic and descriptive language. You can almost feel the cold air and the growing anticipation of whether or not they will see an owl. However, as a child, I was more enraptured by the rural setting and the snow, very different than my childhood experience growing up in a neighborhood in the suburbs where snow covering the ground was a rare occurence in the winter. I also enjoyed looking at the forest animals just out of sight of the girl and her father as they trekked through the forest, like the mouse behind the log or the raccoon peering out of a hole in the trunk of a tree.

I was happy to find that I enjoyed this picture book as much as I did as a child -- if not more.

-- Amy Morgan, Cataloger