Caldecott Award Winner

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat

January 3, 2018
Subheader: 

A decent introduction to street art.

The book doesn't really talk about mental illness much, and the story part of the book also doesn't mention that Basquiat died at age 27 from a drug overdose. The reality is that he died quite young and was addicted to drugs, so his story was a bit more tragic than this children's book accounts for.

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Message: 

Jean-Michel Basquiat had a very interesting life.

This is Not My Hat

September 30, 2017
Subheader: 

Seriously, Mr. Klassen, what is it with the hats?

The main character is a jerk, and the main character gets karma. Maybe children like this kind of sociopathic protagonist and the ensuing comeuppance.

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Message: 

It's wrong to steal a hat.

The Hello, Goodbye Window

October 3, 2017
Subheader: 

I don't know why you say goodbye window, I say hello window.

There's no real story, just a series of events that happen when she visits her grandparents. It's kind of boring. I'm really not sure how something this banal came from the same author as The Phantom Tollbooth and The Dot and the Line, both fascinatingly weird stories.

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Message: 

It's fun to hang out with your grandparents.

Many Moons

October 4, 2017
Subheader: 

When King Daddy promises the moon, he delivers.

It's kind of bad in that it turns out that none of them are really correct about the moon. It is super big and super far away, and they couldn't have really gotten it for him, but I think the real message is that everybody's opinion is equally important, even children.

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Message: 

Try to understand things from others' point of view.

Fables

March 1, 2017
Subheader: 

An apple in time saves before you leap.

The crocodiles are living in a house with wallpaper that is integral to the story. There's a baboon with an umbrella. Since the traditional Aesop's fables take place in ancient Greece, these are an interesting update to the formula. It's nontraditional to have camels wanting to be ballerinas.

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Message: 

Multiple messages, one per story.

The Funny Little Woman

February 3, 2017
Subheader: 

In the absence of their dumpling maker, they formed the Plastic Oni Band.

It's very weird. It feels like it should have a moral, but I can't find one. She claims early on to not be afraid of the oni, but when they're chasing her it says that she's frightened, so it's not like she's fearless. I guess she's brave because she perseveres despite her fear.

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Message: 

Be brave.

Tuesday

January 17, 2017
Subheader: 

Tuesday... afternoon...

It's silly and rather surreal, with pretty pictures. There's not much to it beyond a lovely flight of imagination, and an implication that we're witnessing the beginnings of something truly unusual.

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Message: 

None.

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers

January 5, 2017
Subheader: 

And for my next trick, I'll climb the Statue of Liberty with my bare hands!

I'm not really sure what the message is. I think it's trying to say that the twin towers, although they are gone, have this happy memory in addition to their sad destruction. But an alternate message is really, "It's okay to do illegal things as long as nobody gets hurt and they're highly entertaining."

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Message: 

Sad events shouldn't make us forget the happy memories. Or, trespassing is fun!

The Three Pigs

January 11, 2017
Subheader: 

I almost feel sorry for the wolf.

It's cute. I guess it really has the message of "Don't let yourself get boxed in by the story." "Don't kowtow to fate." Maybe that's reading too much into it, and it doesn't have a message at all, but that's the message I see in it. Which is a good message.

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Message: 

Don't let the outside world tell you who to be.

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