Simms Taback won the 2000 Caldecott Medal for Joseph Had A Little Overcoat, a charming story based on the Yiddish folk song I Had A Little Overcoat. Style and techniques featured include watercolor, gouache, pencil, ink, and collage. The affect is eye-catching, colorful, bold, but not overdone. Children will never tire of Taback's artwork, and the story itself is simple to read, with just one sentence gracing most pages. One part, "Joseph had a little _____. It was old and worn" repeats throughout the book, allowing pre-readers to join in.
The main character, Joseph, a Jewish farmer, owned an old, worn overcoat. Each time it became too worn, he used its fabric to make something else--something smaller. Holes in the illustrations (die-cut technique) peek through and give children a hint of what garment Joseph made next.
With each successive reading of this gem, we're newly charmed. I check it out several times yearly, and we continue to find surprises in the illustrations.
I highly recommend Taback's entire body of literary & illustrated works for pre-readers and new readers. The use of folk songs, rhymes, and repetition is perfect for these children. What a pleasure, a gift, and a help his body of work is to children, parents, and teachers!
Visit teaching background and ideas for Joseph Had a Little Overcoat.
Simms Taback also won a 1998 Caldecott Honor Medal for I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly
Visit his official site for a complete list of his works, for information about his artwork, his life, and for videos and interviews.
These book jackets and more can be found on Taback's website.