For Young Readers

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

Black And White
by David Macaulay (Houghton Mifflin, $14.95.)

The other day, a 1st grade teacher, waving a copy of the 1991 Caldecott Medal winner, flagged me down in the library. "This book," she said, "has me completely baffled!" That's how I felt, too, on my first dozen readings, as I pored over the four-paneled pages. Then I read it aloud to several 1st through 3rd grade classes, and they unlocked the magic for me. Each of the panels holds a continuing tale, illustrated in a well-chosen style that reflects its mood; the quartet is interconnected, though not by any readily apparent sequence. After showing the title page, which depicts a jailbreak, I read aloud the story titles. I urged the students to look for any connecting threads in the illustrations, and then showed them each page without reading it. The stories involve a boy on a train, a boy and dog playing with a model train, a train station full of newspaper-folding commuters, and a robber camouflaged by Holstein cows. Students grew animated and then frenzied as they spotted dozens of sly visual jokes and coincidences that I had missed. Finally, I returned to the beginning and read each page aloud, top to bottom, and the discussion continued as children found still more connections. I have never seen a book provoke such a response. Listeners discussed the story sequences for days afterward. That the writing is sometimes forced and overly arch is of no importance; the puzzlelike tale of an escaped robber's real—or imagined—rendezvous with a commuter train is one that will draw your class together.

Vol. 03, Issue 01, Page 64

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories

Viewed

Emailed

Recommended

Commented

MORE EDUCATION JOBS >>