Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead

Amos McGee is a responsible man, rising early every morning.  He always wears a fresh-pressed uniform, eats his sensible breakfast, and takes the 6 a.m. bus to work at the zoo.  Amos McGee appears to be a man content with his life as well.  Even as the city has grown up around him, he continues to live in the same modest house, now sandwiched between high rise apartments.

Every day at work Amos McGee makes time for his friends.  He plays chess with the elephant, who is very thoughtful.  He races the tortoise, a tough competitor.  The penguin is shy, but Amos sits with him.  He always has a hanky for rhinoceros’s runny nose.  And at the end of the day he shares a storybook with owl, who doesn’t like the dark.

So what happens when the routine changes?  “One day Amos awoke with the sniffles, and the sneezes, and the chills.”  What happens if all the animals wait for their friend, Amos, but he never arrives?  They do what friends do, of course.

They go to him.  There are games and runny noses and quiet visits and contests and stories and even a pot of tea.  
All on A Sick Day for Amos McGee.
The 2011 Caldecott Medal winner was illustrated by Erin E. Stead using woodblock printing and pencil.  Minimal color is used creating a look and mood to match the quiet, contemplative story.  The story, while featuring an older gentleman and zoo animals, could easily be used in classrooms to discuss friendship.  Despite their differences Amos McGee and the animals not only share time together as friends, but they do for one another as friends do.

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