Tag Archives: picture book

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat

Written and Illustrated by Simms Taback.

Viking Juvenile, 1999.  32 pages.  Tr. $16.99.  ISBN 978-0-670-87855-0.

Using the die cut technique he popularized in his book There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, Simms Taback presents another award winning story, this one about a Jewish farmer named Joseph whose resourcefulness allows him to continually remake his overcoat into something new.  Taback’s inspiration for the story comes from a Yiddish folksong which is included at the end of the book.  Young readers will enjoy the predictable pattern of the text, and older readers will find numerous interesting bits of Jewish culture sprinkled throughout the richly textured illustrations.  A joyful story with a moral readers of all cultures can take to heart.

Cited in Essentials of Children’s Literature 6th Edition pages 94, 97, 113, 224, 311 and the 2000 Caldecott Medal winner:

Other Information:

Other in-print formats available for this title:

  • Gagne, P.R. & Reilly, M. (Producers) & Ivanick, D. (Director).  (2001).  Joseph had a

little overcoat .  Norwalk, CT:  Weston Woods.

Awards won by this item

Author/Illustrator website

Author/Illustrator biographies

Subjects/themes that could be used in programming

  • Jewish culture
  • Reusing Resources
  • Folk songs

Programming Ideas and/or lesson plans

Additional Resources

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Filed under Picture Books

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers

Written and Illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein

Roaring Book Press, 2003.  40 pages.  Tr. $17.95.  ISBN 978-0-7613-1791-3.

Philippe Petit is a street performer who loves to entertain crowds with his juggling tricks and his unicycle.  His favorite trick is walking on a tightrope high above the ground.  Once, in his hometown of Paris, France, Philippe walked (and even danced!) on a wire between the steeples of Notre Dame Cathedral.  Now living in New York, Philippe spots twin towers, each 1,340 feet tall.  And he has an idea…

Mordicai Gerstein recounts the remarkable story of Philippe Petit who, on August 7, 1974, walked on a wire strung between the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.  Gerstein’s ink and oil illustrations capture Petit’s charisma and daring, as well as the astonishing height of the towers.  The post-9/11 perspective of this story preserves the memory of Petit’s amazing feat and the magnificence of the World Trade Center.  This book may serve as an introduction to 9/11 history for children born after 2001.

Other Information:

Other in-print formats available for this title:

  • Gerstein, M.  The man who walked between the towers [compact disc]. (2005).  Pine Plains, NY:  Live Oak Media.
  • Sporn, M. (Director). (2005). The man who walked between the towers [DVD]. Norwalk, CT:  Weston Woods Studios, Incorporated.

Awards won by this item

Author/Illustrator website

Author/Illustrator biographies

Subjects/themes that could be used in programming

  • Tight rope walker
  • Street Performer
  • 9/11

Programming Ideas and/or lesson plans

Additional Resources

Gallery of Mordicai Gerstein’s art:  http://www.rmichelson.com/Artist_Pages/Gerstein/Mordicai_Gerstein_Gallery.html

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Filed under Picture Books

No One Walks on My Father’s Moon

Written by Chara Curtis
Illustrated by Rebecca Hyland

A bright, eager Turkish schoolboy excitedly relays to his father the amazing thing he learned in class:  astronauts have landed on the moon!  The boy is shocked and dismayed at his father’s furious, violent reaction.  Americans may be touting this “giant leap for mankind,” but in some cultures to speak of—even to conceive of!—walking on “the face of God’s shining light” is nothing less than blasphemy.  In this profound and moving story, the boy faces the challenge of reconciling knowledge with belief.
Ages 8+
5 Flags
 
More to the story:
This book, unfortunately, is out of print, though I was able to obtain a copy through Amazon.  I encountered the story through the latest issue of Tikkun magazine which featured an article by children’s literature professor Graeme Wend-Walker.  The article, entitled “Reaching for the Moon:  A Children’s Book Author Challenges the Separation of Science and Religion,” discusses the plot and provides insightful commentary on the themes of education, religious belief, and reconciliation.

Wend-Walker also comments on the ways in which children’s literature is uniquely capable not only of addressing the prickly subjects of science and religion, but also of guiding young readers in their navigation of this increasingly important landscape.

In the case of No One Walks on My Father’s Moon, an elegant example of the ways in which picture books can make an outstanding contribution to the literary world, I recommend that adults use the story to open dialogue among themselves as well as with young people.  Religious education settings within any faith tradition would be particularly conducive to such conversation. 

(Interestingly, when I was linking the image to the Amazon page, I saw an impassioned review criticizing the very aspects of this book which I find so necessary to discuss.  Click here to see my response.)

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Filed under Periodicals, Picture Books