Chalk, by Bill Thompson! I was recently part of a mock Caldecott election with library science graduate students. We looked at dozens and dozens of picture books that had been published this year. Each of us nominated our personal favorites.
Eventually, after we’d sifted through all of the titles, there were few books that most us could agree on. By the final round of voting it was clear that this title was our favorite, and let me tell you why.
This is a wordless picture book about a group of children that bring a box of chalk to the playground on a rainy day. The first girl draws a yellow sun on the ground, and POOF! the sun comes out for real and dries up all the rain (sounds like a familiar song doesn’t it?).
Another girl takes orange chalk and draws butterflies, only to have them flutter from the ground and fly all over. Not to be outdone, the little boy gets a really clever idea and draws a green dinosaur…and that’s when the true adventure begins.
These drawings are so realistic and beautiful, and at first make you believe that they are computer generated. But Thompson illustrates his book the old-fashioned way with acrylics and colored pencil. I tell you it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen in picture book art.
The best thing about Chalk is that itÂ highlights the best thing about being a child. A child does not need much to activate her imagination. Just some chalk, a few friends and a little bit of mischief to create masterpieces.
I’m excited to see if the rest of the children’s literature world will agree with my class and honor this book with a Caldecott Medal or Honor.
Marshall Cavendish Children’s Books, 2010