Gathering Books is holding an Award Winning Book challenge this year. They, and others of us who have taken this challenge have reviewed many books from all over the world that have been acclaimed in some way by an award. The best thing is I have discovered numerous kinds of awards that I've never heard of, thus also new books to put on a TBR list. My list grows longer, and it's exciting to see what writers are doing beyond my own community here in the US.
This time, however, I do want to share a description of a recent (2005) Caldecott winning book by Norton Juster and illustrated by Chris Raschka. It is the Hello, Goodbye Window. I noticed this cover with two older people waving to a gloriously happy little girl. I'm a grandmother and I wondered. I saw the golden medal in the corner and I wondered. So I read the book and found that this story is the sweetest story of a visit to grandparents and the little things they do with their granddaughter, those little things that one cannot buy in a store, but make life as good as it can be.
Even before the visiting grandchild goes inside, she gets to wave, or "climb up on the flower barrel and tap the window" then duck down to create a surprise. Sometimes, if the grandparents see her first, they play peek-a-boo, too. The kitchen is where the window is, but in that kitchen there is so much more. Poppy, the grandpa, sometimes says "HELLO WORLD! WHAT HAVE YOU GOT FOR US TODAY?" Nobody ever answers, the book tells us, but he doesn't care. Sometimes they play in the backyard and Poppy chases with the hose sprayer, and the little girl says stop. But when Poppy does, she asks him to do it again.
One page reads: When I get tired I come in and take my nap and nothing happens until I get up. There are so many wonderful pieces of this story and probably because I'm a grandmother who has had such lovely experiences, I just want to share it with every grandparent around. And I know that teachers of young students will excite the story-telling when they read this to students.
Chris Raschka's illustrations are exceptionally wonderful, childlike, vibrant and delightful. He is an artist who can, with some few colors and lines, imbue a picture with joy, and at the end with goodbyes, sadness. I'm sorry I missed this book until now, but so glad I found it at last.