Friday, September 14, 2007

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat (Genre: Picture Book)

Bibliographic Data


Author: Simms Taback

Illustrator: Simms Taback

Publisher: Viking Juvenile

Publication Date: October 1999

ISBN: 978-0670878550

Plot Summary
Joseph, a farmer, has a coat made of his favorite cloth. As it begins to wear, Joseph recreates his favorite cloth into a new article of clothing, with each successive article smaller than the last.

Critical Analysis
This is a wonderful picture book. It has all of the elements which make it a Caldecott Award book: vivid and descriptive illustrations beautifully done. What makes this an interesting text are the cut-outs on each section that grow smaller and smaller as the piece of cloth grows smaller and smaller. Children can visualize the cloth shrinking with wear. Because the story was adapted from folk songs, it captures and holds the attention and its repetition engages children of all ages.

Review Excerpts
From Publishers Weekly
As in his Caldecott Honor book, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, Taback's inventive use of die-cut pages shows off his signature artwork, here newly created for his 1977 adaptation of a Yiddish folk song. This diverting, sequential story unravels as swiftly as the threads of Joseph's well-loved, patch-covered plaid coat. A flip of the page allows children to peek through to subsequent spreads as Joseph's tailoring produces items of decreasing size. The author puts a droll spin on his narrative when Joseph loses the last remnant of the coat - a button and decides to make a book about it. "Which shows... you can always make something out of nothing," writes Taback, who wryly slips himself into his story by depicting Joseph creating a dummy for the book that readers are holding. Still, it's the bustling mixed-media artwork, highlighted by the strategically placed die-cuts, that steals the show. Taback works into his folk art a menagerie of wide-eyed animals witnessing the overcoat's transformation, miniature photographs superimposed on paintings and some clever asides reproduced in small print (a wall hanging declares, "Better to have an ugly patch than a beautiful hole"; a newspaper headline announces, "Fiddler on Roof Falls off Roof"). With its effective repetition and an abundance of visual humor, this is tailor-made for reading aloud. All ages. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc

Use this text to tie into a unit on recycling and have students write paragraphs about the original use of the item and the new use of the item.
Use this text to tie into recycled art projects.

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