WCC Instructor and Wife Share Caldecott Medal
“A Sick Day for Amos McGee,” written by WCC instructor Philip C. Stead and illustrated by his wife, Erin C. Stead, has received the prestigious 2011 Randolph Caldecott Medal presented by the American Library Association. The Caldecott Medal is awarded each year to the most distinguished picture book for children.
The story is about an elderly zookeeper and his five special animal friends—an elephant, penguin, rhinoceros, tortoise, and owl—who visit him at home when he’s too ill to work. The story, and the moving artwork that accompanies it, underscore the bonds of friendship and loyalty.
One reviewer wrote of Stead’s story, “I read through this book several times to get down the cadence of Mr. Stead's wordplay. He parallels Amos's activities in the first half with similar activities with (sic) the animals are taking care of him in the second. He knows when to leave sections wordless. And at the end, the ‘goodnight’ section sort of makes this an ideal bedtime book for small fry.”
In an interview with The New York Times, Stead said that he and his wife conceived the project in 2006, when they were living in Brooklyn, N.Y. They first met in a high school art class in Dearborn. Now they work together in their Ann Arbor studio when he is not teaching graphic design at WCC.
In that same interview, Stead wondered if the book’s simplicity made it stand out among the hundreds of other possible candidates. “We were a little concerned before the book came out that it was too quiet,” Stead said. “It is very simple. It has very muted colors. It’s a quiet story with a very simple story arc. In a weird way, maybe that was what made it stand out. Maybe people were ready for a story about kindness.”
This is the second book authored by Philip Stead, who also wrote, “Creamed Tuna Fish & Peas on Toast,” published last September by Roaring Book Press.