Thursday, April 25, 2013

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat

Title:  Joseph Had a Little Overcoat
Author:  Simms Tabback
Illustrator: Simms Tabback
Publisher: The Penguin Group

Genre: Caldecott Medal
Level: Primary
Number of Pages: 34
Pub. Date: 1999
Summary: Joseph starts out with an overcoat, but then it gets worn and old, so he decides to make something new out of it so it can be used again, so he makes a jacket. After awhile, it gets old and worn too so he makes something new out of it. This process continues until he has made a jacket, vest, tie, handkerchief and button from the material of the old overcoat. Making these things allows him to have new adventures like going to visit family and celebrate. When he’s down to just a button, he loses it and then has nothing, but then he makes a book about the overcoat’s journey and he makes something out of nothing.

The book in Hebrew
Critique: The illustrations have many features that make it a worthy winner of the Caldecott medal.  The pictures are wonderful and are painted with wonderful detail. At first glance they may just seem like they tell the story of Joseph’s overcoat being made into many things, but if you look more closely it also gives the reader a look into his life as a Jewish man. He had pictures of Jewish people in the frames, a Menorah on the table and newspaper articles featured. In the scenes where he is in his house there are also little quotes framed that go along with the story, like “When the coat is old, Only the holes are new.” These features give the book a lot of subtext and add even more richness to the pictures. One of the other features that make it a fun book for children is the cutouts on every other page. The cutout isn’t visible on the right, but when you flip the page, it frames Joseph’s last piece of the overcoat with a new portion, like the vest turning into a scarf.

Response: This was such a touching little book. I really liked the moral at the end that you can always make something out of nothing, over and over again. It is such a cute connection to the
overcoat, but also has so much validity in life. If you keep a positive attitude about everything, knowing that you can always turn things around, life is just going to be so much easier. Another part that I really liked was how the graphics used a cutout to frame the next item that the overcoat. It’s so simple yet so creative!!

Youtube reading of the book:  


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