Saturday, August 9, 2014

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 112

Picture Book: Joseph Had a Little Overcoat

Author & Illustrator: Simms Taback

Summary: Like this picture book, Joseph’s little overcoat has several holes. Each time the cloth becomes old and worn, Joseph transforms the article of clothing into a smaller but useful object. The holes (die-cuts) in the book give a hint as to what that object might be. Throughout this picture book are interesting Yiddish objects to consider while you admire Joseph’s innovations. Eventually when the least bit of the original coat is lost, Joseph, unfazed by his loss, simply creates a picture book about it! This book is based on a beloved Yiddish folksong.

Hanna’s Comments: This story offers an apparent connection to Joseph of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) whose coat of many colors was the symbol of his father’s favoritism and his brothers’ jealousy. Though the protagonist is obviously Jewish, this is not that Joseph. Reading this story while studying the biblical Joseph would allow you to make these connections: Joseph of old managed to transform a series of dire circumstances and eventually save his family just as this more recent Joseph transforms his worn clothing into something useful. The two characters share several attributes such as resilience and faith in their God-given gifts. Have fun with the repeated text and see if before you turn the page the children can anticipate how Joseph has adapted his cloth each time. A newer version of this Yiddish tale was published in 2014 in traditional picture book form (no holes). That title is My Grandfather's Coat. The author is Jim Aylesworth; its illustrator is Barbara McClintock.     

Publisher & Date of Publication: Viking, 1999                                                              
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Pre and up                                                      
# of Pages: 32                                                                                               
Available in Spanish? Not at present, but there is a video version of a Spanish version (see below)                                                                           
Formats other than Book: Audio cassette, In the video collection: Strega Nona and Other Caldecott Award-winning Folk Tales (English & Spanish versions)                                                      
PBT Category: Award Winner (Caldecott Medal), Pre 2K       

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: action, adaptation/assimilation, art, change, clothes/shoes, creativity/imagination/ingenuity, gifts/giftedness/talents, image of God, individuality/ingenuity, labor/work, possessions, poverty, problems/problem solving, renewal/restoration, righteousness, satisfaction, time/timing/over time, transformation, treasure, wisdom                               

Scripture Connections: Joseph’s coat (Genesis 37); if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation (2nd Corinthians 5:17)

Idea(s) for Application: In addition to a lesson on the biblical Joseph’s coat, this would be a wonderful book to help children discuss the spiritual concept of transformation over time and through hardship. 

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