Book Report: A Sick Day for Amos McGee
Freida was home sick a few weeks ago, as seems to be our family’s summer tradition – an impromptu sick week in the middle of July. Hudi was sniffly and teeth-y, and Freida was coughing and sneezing. So along with amped-up doses of Vitamin C, meticulously hidden shots of liquid Echinacea, and a pocket-full of Ricola throat drops, came the UPS man with our favorite monthly delivery: PJ Library books! And as fate would have it, one of my favorite library books landed with a thump on our doorstep.
I don’t quite know why I have long adored A Sick Day for Amos McGee, by Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead. Maybe because I love cute little old men, or because the illustrations are so quirky, or because the writer and illustrator are married (how sweet?). It’s a beautiful book, with a really kind and simple message, and apparently I’m not the only one who loves it; this book won the 2011 Caldecott Medal. AND it’s the first book Erin Stead has illustrated! Can you imagine? The Caldecott on her very first book?? Nice.
The book tells the story of a friendly zookeeper who spends his day taking care of various animals. He plays chess with the elephant, and runs races with the tortoise. But one morning he wakes with the sniffles and the chills and can’t go into work. So his friends decide to come check in on him. They wait for the bus and ride over to Amos’ home, and take care of him for a change. It’s the simplest story of visiting the sick, and is told in the sweetest most unique way.
I suppose the mitzvah behind it is what made it PJ Library-worthy, but my curiosity on that matter led me to google the Steads… (That’s where I learnt about the Caldecott.) If your curious too, read about how she heard about the big win here. One of my longtime dreams has been to write and illustrate a children’s book, and I found the interview fascinating! Especially this part:
But winning the award for a collaboration with her husband has made the honor even sweeter. “We work together all day long, every day. We’re each other’s first pass. It would be really different if we didn’t win this as a team.”