Written by Philip C. Stead, Illustrated by Erin E. Stead
Roaring Book Press, 2010
Awards: Caldecott Medal (2011)
Amos McGee was an early riser. Every morning when the alarm clock clanged, he swung his legs out of bed and swapped his pajamas for a fresh-pressed uniform.
The plot in a nutshell: Amos is a caretaker at the local zoo, who has special friends among the animals in his care. When he stays home sick one day, his friends come around to check on him.
I can’t imagine anyone not being charmed by this adorable story. Everything about it seems perfectly engineered to win your heart. The story is sweet, the artwork is lovely and cheery, the characters are inspiring, the lesson is timeless and, if you don’t have a sappy grin on your face yet, the book is the product of a husband and wife team! Adorable? Indeed!
This book made it onto my list owing to its Caldecott Medal status and it happened to be featured at the library the day I went, so it was one of the first books I picked up for this blog. Just a few pages in, I was completely won over. I visited author Philip C. Stead’s blog, read through his account of a houseplant named Steve and quickly declared him a new favorite of mine. I’ll happily read anything he publishes from here on out. And I hope that chore keeps me busy for years to come!
Mr. Stead is an artist himself, as I have seen in perusing his other titles, but the artwork for this book is done by his wife, Erin. Her medium here is pencil drawings on woodblock print, which gives the pictures just the right amount of gentleness. The colors are soft and perfect for the tone of the story. There are a couple of pages with no words, where the pictures tell us not only everything that’s happening, but how the characters feel about it.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that the surest way to be surrounded by wonderful friends is to be a wonderful friend yourself.