This week, I'm sharing two more Golden Kite Award Winners from the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators:
— Winner of best illustrated picture book was "Lester's Dreadful Sweaters" (2012, Kids Can Press, written and illustrated by K.G. Campbell, ages 4-8). In this quirky story with equally quirky pencil crayon illustrations, Cousin Clara comes to live with Lester's family after her cottage is consumed by a crocodile. Clara seemed pleasant enough. "All she did was sit and knit, clickety-click, clickety-click."
Then one morning she tells Lester she's made him a sweater. He's quite pleased until he sees it. "It was shriveled yet saggy. It had holes where it shouldn't and none where it should. It was a less-than-pleasant yellow and smothered with purple pom-poms. It was DREADFUL."
Lester's father, however, assures Cousin Clara that Lester will wear the sweater to school. The obedient boy does so, but his day doesn't go well. Somehow, the sweater is discovered later, stringy and shrunken, in the laundry — a mysterious accident.
"Not to worry," Cousin Clara assures them, and in no time, she's knit another sweater for Lester.
This pattern continues, including one sweater that's "repulsively pumpkin, uncommonly crooked and had a hideous hood" and another, "terribly turquoise with several unexpected sleeves." After each increasingly difficult day of school, every sweater meets a terrible, mysterious end.
Then on the day of a classmate's party, Lester must wear the most dreadful sweater of all, complete with feathers and striped feet. Lester hates it, but when he arrives, the clowns who are performing at the party love the sweater. Lester eagerly asks them if they'd like their own sweaters, and soon Cousin Clara is offered a job knitting for the traveling troupe of clowns. The humor and warmth in the story and illustrations and the book's old-fashioned, human feel give it a unique charm.
— Receiving an honor award for picture book text was the book, "A Leaf Can Be " (2012, Millbrook Press, written by Laura Purdie Salas and illustrated by Violeta Dabija, ages 1-5).
This beautiful volume is alive with poetry and motion in both text and art. It begins, "A leaf is a leaf./ It bursts out each spring/ when sunny days linger/and orioles sing." The pages that come next follow the line, "A leaf can be a "
With only a couple of words per page, accompanied by cheerful collage illustrations, the book shows readers how leaves can be soft cradles, water ladles, sun takers, food makers, wind riders, lake gliders, and more.
Several pages of back matter give readers more information (but not too much) about each role a leaf plays, as well as definitions of important concepts.
Happy reading! And let's hope that this talk of leaves will encourage spring to make its way to Illinois!
Alice B. McGinty (http://www.alicebmcginty.com) is the award-winning author of more than 40 books for children, as well as a writing teacher, manuscript coach and the co-regional adviser for the Illinois Chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. She directs a summer writing camp called Words on Fire for teen girls.