By Elizabeth Wroten
On 01, Jun 2016 | In Review | By Elizabeth Wroten
From Goodreads: Jim Aylesworth’s satisfying retelling and Barbara McClintock’s heartwarming pictures celebrate how Grandfather cleverly recycles his beloved coat through four generations.
This is the standard Joseph had a little overcoat story, but it’s done in such a touching way following the family through the generations that if feels very fresh. It might be one of those books that appeals a bit more to adults for the sentimentality of the story and pictures, but the fresh spin and details still make it a book for children.
I love the illustrations in the book, probably even more than the actual text. McClintock repeats layouts throughout the book that visually connect the family and the story through the generations and connect them to their eras. And while repetitive layouts and repetitive text could feel boring and stagnant, it doesn’t. It pulls it all together and takes what might be kind of a long story for younger kids and turns it into something very engaging yet predictable. McClintok also included lots of fun little details to notice: the fashion and house decoration through the ages, even the border on the front cover with spools and buttons. It just pulls the story together and makes it a fun book to pore over. Plus some of the pictures spark conversation, like the Ellis Island in the background of that cover picture.
I’m still partial to Sims Taback’s version of the story, but this one is great too and we can’t have too many books with Jewish families in our library at the moment. It’s on my list for purchases next year (since we’re done for this year). A lot of the illustrations feature small snippets of Jewish life (a menorah on the table and the wedding scene, for example) which the text does not mention, but still connects the story with its origins and gives Jewish kids a place to point to and say, “Hey, that looks like our table!”