Review | Wednesday 10 August 2011
The winner of the 2011 Caldecott Medal for illustration, A Sick Day for Amos McGee is a quiet treasure. Amos McGee is an elderly zookeeper who makes time every day to visit his good friends. He plays chess with the elephant ‘who thought and thought before making a move’ and reads stories to the owl ‘who was afraid of the dark’ at sunset. One day he is sick and this provides the impetus for his friends to leave the zoo and visit him – led by the very shy penguin.
This is a simple tale of friendship, of taking the time to appreciate the differences and needs of one’s friends. It is beautifully illustrated, using woodblock prints with pencil drawings. Each character – elephant, owl, penguin, rhinoceros and tortoise, as well as Amos – is entrancingly rendered, their character shining through in both expression and movement. I particularly love the shy penguin with his coloured socks who bravely ventures out holding elephant’s trunk to visit his sick friend. This is a book of small pedestrian moments executed with a straightforwardness that makes a fantastical story of animals visiting a zookeeper into a tale of ordinary kindness and friendship. Sure to be treasured for many years, this book is perfect for any sick day or just a moment of rest. For ages two and up.
Marie Matteson is from Readings Port Melbourne.