A Sick Day for Amos McGee

March 24, 2011

Title: A Sick Day for Amos McGee
Author: Philip C. Stead
Illustrator: Erin Stead
Best for Age: 4-8
ISBN: 9781596434028
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (2010)
List Price: Hardcover, $16.99

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If you are going to buy ONE picture book this year, one, single, solitary picture book, I would advise you to purchase A Sick Day for Amos McGee, by Philip & Erin Stead. This book is so amazing, so adorable, so entirely child-friendly and perfect, that I honestly don’t even know how to review it.

I suppose I should start by saying that I am not alone in praising this heartwarming and shy little story. The husband and wife team behind A Sick Day for Amos McGee actually took home the Caldecott Medal this year (the much-coveted honor awarded annually to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children).

Philip’s story, about a zoo-keeper’s relationships with his friends (the elephant, the owl, the penguin, the rhinoceros, and the tortoise), is paired perfectly with his wife’s award-winning illustrations. As you follow Amos’ daily routine at the zoo, visiting with each animal, it becomes quite apparent that this is a tale about true friendship:

He would play chess with the elephant (who thought and thought before making a move), run races with the tortoise (who never ever lost), sit quietly with the penguin (who was very shy), lend a handkerchief to the rhinoceros (who always had a runny nose), and, at sunset, read stories to the owl (who was afraid of the dark).

However, this is also a lesson about reciprocity, for readers see that when Amos has to stay home sick one afternoon, his friends come to visit him instead!

As all of the animals set out to find Amos, Stead purposefully leaves a few pages without words. Young readers have the opportunity to fill in the story themselves by examining Erin’s beautiful illustrations, which carry the plot as the animals leave the zoo, wait for the bus, and ride it across town.

As you can see, Erin’s illustrations are truly breathtaking. She creates her delicate scenes using woodblocking and pencil, and they are chock full of charm. Erin brings each animal to life, each with their own distinct personality (for example, how the penguin always wears a pair of bright red socks). Her attention to detail is amazing. Not only are the penciled facial features on Amos and the animals exceedingly lifelike, but the small additions she makes to each scene are fun to look for as well. With each page you will find something new to delight in, from the delicate flowers in the background, to the little mouse or bird that mimic whatever Amos or the animals do.

This is, hands down, my favorite book of this year. It is sweet, endearing, and ultimately timeless. And the best part is that it leaves readers feeling warm and cozy inside. Perfect for reading out loud, and great for bedtime, A Sick Day for Amos McGee is an absolute winner. Go check it out!


One comment

  1. Your images from this book are amazing! It’s going on my list.

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