Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Cowboy and Octopus

The runner-up (Honor Book, rather) in the Longard house mock Caldecott is Cowboy and Octopus, by Jon Scieszka (rhymes with Fresca). The artist is Lane Smith. I don't know that this is that much of a contender. I think adults love Scieszka books, but they don't necessarily take them very seriously. But I think the art in this book is fabulous, with an amazing attention to detail.

It's collage. The main characters are paper cutouts, and you have to pay attention to the title page to know where they come from. And you will be rewarded if you pay attention to Octopus' back as they walk off into the sunset on the last. In between Smith uses everything but the proverbial kitchen sink to create scenes. Most of the paper images, including Octopus, remind me of those painting books for very small children where you dip the brush in water, and the paint's already in the picture, so it comes out nice every time (unless you were like me and saturated the page enough to blend the colors and ruin the picture).

The story is, big surprise, quirky. Actually it's several very, very, very short stories about two friends, kind of like George and Martha with an attitude. Here's one story:

Beautiful Day

"Isn't it a BEAUTIFUL day?" says Octopus.
Cowboy says, "No, it ain't."

Hilarious stuff. I hope your kids like it. If they don't, just stuff the book in a closet and bring it back out after they graduate from college and tell them it was one of their favorites. They'll believe you.

So, here are the other candidates for tomorrow's discussion:

Jonathan Bean for At Night
Richard Egielski for The End, by David LaRochelle
Rachel Isadora for Yo, Jo!
Ted Lewin for At Gleason's Gym
Christopher Myers for Jabberwocky
Lynne Rae Perkins for Pictures from our Vacation
Peter Sís for The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain
David Ezra Stein for Leaves

I'm going to predict that Peter Sis will win. His book really is impressive. But hard to read, with so much happening on each page. You're not supposed to think about the text too much, though. I probably wouldn't make a very good committee member. I hope nobody at ALA is reading this ten years down the line when I'm being considered, right?

I'll let you know who wins tomorrow night.

No comments: