The Read Balloon: A Sick Day for Amos McGee

a sick day for amos mcgee

A Sick Day for Amos McGee, by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead. Do you ever wonder why authors sometimes use their middle initials? I do.

Several books are in vogue this week in our world, most involving spunky little girls having adventures – Charlie and Lola, Madeline – and then there is A Sick Day for Amos McGee, which is about a wrinkly old man who talks to his sugar bowl and wakes up early every morning.  I like the idea that Amos is hanging out in Harper’s head with Lola and Madeline.  What a group!

Anyway, I ordered the wonderful A Sick Day for Amos McGee after hearing it had won the Caldecott in a kind of the-little-book-that-could manner.  It’s about a kindly zookeeper who befriends five animals (each sort of troubled in their own way, which is really sweet).  When he stays home sick one day, they miss him and all take the city bus (!) to visit.  Then they have tea and take naps.  This is my kind of book.

amos mcgee has tea

We are very into tea parties these days. Elephants optional.

It’s been described as a “quiet book” and it is, in a very non-boring and charming way.  Its whimsy is a gentle one.  The illustrations are just lovely – I want to reach in and touch Amos’s face – and yield pleasant surprises the more you look.  (Like a recurring read – I mean red – balloon. Holla!)

Best of all, Amos has been a big hit with Harper.  “Where Amos?”  She asks now and then, quoting the animals in the book.  She especially likes the group of animals that comprise Amos’s friends, and seems very taken with the idea that the penguin is shy.  When I tried to explain to her what “shy” is she said, “Harper shy too!”  I don’t believe her, but whatever.  I’d rather have this conversation over and over than last week’s obsession with “scary ayeegators.”

It’s so nice to be making our way out of the world of very simple board books and into narratives with thoughtful illustrations, and sort of a relief to read a book that doesn’t seem to have an agenda.  And the more we read this book, the more I like it.  And so does Harper.  In fact, we sort of can’t get enough Amos around here.

BookPage has a nice post-medal-win interview with illustrator Erin Stead (and her husband wrote it, how cute is that) , and there’s a really fascinating interview her from before the book came out, over at Seven Impossible Things , in which Stead explains how she made the gorgeous, sensitive illustrations (prints!), which is something I always want to know about picture books.  Very satisfying.

amos mcgee night

This is basically how we sleep at our house too.

Well, I’m off to go partake in the day’s adventure: drinking tea and taking a nap.

2 responses to “The Read Balloon: A Sick Day for Amos McGee

  1. Oh my goodness Sol and Anthony love this book. We got it when Sol had a nasty nasty cold, and it was very comforting.

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