According to my calulations, there are three more books for us to blog about before we finish up our list: If You Lived Here by Giles Laroche; Tweak Tweak by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier, and Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes. I’m not sure how many people are online this week — I’m still on vacation — but we’ll try to get these up over the next few days.
Laroche is one of those consistently good illustrators who doesn’t seem to get much award attention. This might have something to do with the fact that he concentrates on information books and that his medium is similar to Steve Jenkins who DOES get award love from time to time. Jenkins’s books tend to use bolder, larger shapes and feature some really dramatic design choices while Laroche goes for as much detail as he can. How he keeps track of all those little pieces of cut out paper is kind of mind boggling. I’d love to watch over his shoulder as he works someday, but would be afraid that one sneeze could undo hours of work!
Laroche’s style is ideal for a book about different kinds of houses. His art encourages you to look closer and closer until your imagination drops you into the scene and allows you to walk around in it. Some people love doll houses and museum dioramas for the same reason. The three-dimensional bas relief makes you think you really could step through that open door and find a fully furnished room behind it. In Rudine Sims Bishop‘s parlance, this book is both window and mirror. Since the houses are from all over the world, nearly every spread will provide a window on a different way of living. But the inviting accessibility of the art creates a kind of mirror. Or perhaps it’s a mirror that is also a doorway, in the sense that Alice would understand from her travels through the looking glass.
This book as a whole has huge appeal for me and for many others, but I think the Caldecott committee will be more interested in the application of that idea through its illustrations. Being a quiet book — all about the details rather than the flash — it hasn’t gotten a lot of attention this year. But I think it has more staying power than many of the other books we’ve discussed. I can see children recalling these scenes twenty and thirty years in the future when they first visit some of these countries.
But does it have a chance at the Medal? It’s not showing up in the Mocks, but I notice that the books those groups are discussing tend to have more obvious appeal. When I was on the committee, we took the time to look closely at the quiet books, too. Have you had a good look at this one yet? What do you think?