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Joseph Had a Little Overcoat (Caldecott Medal Book) Hardcover – October 1, 1999


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Joseph Had a Little Overcoat (Caldecott Medal Book) + A Sick Day for Amos McGee + Locomotive (Caldecott Medal Book)
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 and up
  • Grade Level: Preschool and up
  • Series: Caldecott Medal Book
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Juvenile (October 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670878553
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670878550
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 0.4 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,670 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

When Joseph's favorite overcoat gets old and worn, he makes a jacket out of it. When the jacket is more patches than jacket, Joseph turns it into a vest. When the vest's number is up, Joseph makes a scarf. This thrifty industry continues until there's nothing left of the original garment. But clever Joseph manages to make something out of nothing! (And that's the foreshadowed moral of the story.)

In today's throwaway world, Joseph's old-fashioned frugality is a welcome change. Based on a Yiddish song from Simms Taback's youth (lyrics and music reproduced on the last page), the book is filled with rhythms and arresting colors that will delight every reader. As more and more holes appear in Joseph's coat, die-cut holes appear on the pages, hinting at each next manifestation. The illustrations are striking, created with gouache, watercolor, collage, pencil, and ink. Every inch of space is crammed with fanciful, funny details, such as the headline on a discarded newspaper: "Fiddler on Roof Falls off Roof." Taback, esteemed creator of the Caldecott Honor-winning There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly and the classic Too Much Noise, has produced a picture book that is as well turned out as its dapper hero. (Ages 4 to 8) --Emilie Coulter

From Publishers Weekly

As in his Caldecott Honor book, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, Taback's inventive use of die-cut pages shows off his signature artwork, here newly created for his 1977 adaptation of a Yiddish folk song. This diverting, sequential story unravels as swiftly as the threads of Joseph's well-loved, patch-covered plaid coat. A flip of the page allows children to peek through to subsequent spreads as Joseph's tailoring produces items of decreasing size. The author puts a droll spin on his narrative when Joseph loses the last remnant of the coatAa buttonAand decides to make a book about it. "Which shows... you can always make something out of nothing," writes Taback, who wryly slips himself into his story by depicting Joseph creating a dummy for the book that readers are holding. Still, it's the bustling mixed-media artwork, highlighted by the strategically placed die-cuts, that steals the show. Taback works into his folk art a menagerie of wide-eyed animals witnessing the overcoat's transformation, miniature photographs superimposed on paintings and some clever asides reproduced in small print (a wall hanging declares, "Better to have an ugly patch than a beautiful hole"; a newspaper headline announces, "Fiddler on Roof Falls off Roof"). With its effective repetition and an abundance of visual humor, this is tailor-made for reading aloud. All ages. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Simms Taback grew up in the Bronx and graduated from Cooper Union. He has worked as an art director and a graphic designer, and has taught at the School of Visual Arts and Syracause University. He has illustrated many children's books, including I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly (Viking), Spacy Riddles, Snakey Riddles, Buggy Riddles, and Fishy Riddles (all written by Katy Hall and lIsa Eisenberg, Dial). His work has won many awards, including the Caldecott Honor Award Medal for I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly and a New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book. A father of three and grandfather of three, Mr. Taback lives with his wife in Willow, New York copyright ? 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

Customer Reviews

This book was a gift for my 8-year old.
Abby H
Taback, also the illustrator, uses watercolor, pencil, ink, and color patchwork collages to illustrate this Caldecott award winning children's book.
Kristen Knight
I love this book becasue it teaches a lesson and has truly fun and bright pictures.
Adrianne H. Jones

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

98 of 99 people found the following review helpful By Mark J. Ross on November 10, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is one of my all-time favorite children's books - it is great to have it in print in a new and even better edition. The philosophy underlying the story - that with spirit one can always triumph over circumstances - is light-heartedly embodied in Taback's marvelous illustrations. The text is inspired by a Yiddish song, which the new edition gives on a back page. This is a book I'm going to give away copies of for years to come!
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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I read this book to 130 second graders in the cafeteria and they loved it!. The illustrations were beautiful. It lends itself to a great writing prompt with a project attached! Don't forget those fifth graders, too! Nancy Usich Avon, Ct
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Roz Levine on May 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a charming, simple book with vibrant, busy pictures that just delights my five year old. The format of the story repeats itself over and over so that your little one can easily "help" you read. The pictures are terrific and full of detail. My son enjoys spending time looking for new and hidden things on each page. Overall, a nice thoughtful book. I recommend it highly.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Busybeard on March 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At first my 4 year old son turned his nose up at it (no construction trucks or policemen here!), but a few nights later I read it to him and he wanted me to re-read it to him again. Well, that was last week, and it has been his book choice every night since. Very colorful, interesting artwork with people tucked here and there, and peering out of windows. He loves wondering about all these people involved in Joseph's life. I recommend it totally. It really captured his imagination.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Amy-Leigh Mack on July 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I think the best review comes from a child's viewpoint. I bought this book for my 2 1/2 year old son. Since the first day he had the book we have to read it every night and 2 to 3 other times during the day. If you ask him to pick a book to read, Joseph Had a Little Overcoat is one that is always chosen. I do not think there can be a better recommendation on a child's book than a child wanting the book read over and over and over again. And that the child knows the book well enough to choose it himself to "read" and for it to be read to him. Also, from my (the parent's) viewpoint the history of the story and the tune in the back to sing just gives so much more to the story itself. It gives history and a way to take the story with us even if the book is not available.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Dear Readers,
This story deals with the theory of makingsometing out of nothing. One may think that there is no hope forcreating something from nothing at all, but children need to know otherwise. Through the reading of this book children can expand their own creative ideas about the world around them through the use of their own imaginations. You can visualize the large coat and how the material from that coat can be used and used until there is no more. Teachers could relate this to learning about the process of recycling. A unit could be created with the help of the children regarding the topic of recycling. The classroom could develop a schoolwide-recycling center. The children could explore the great outdoors and learn how we recycle things to produce other things. Extension lessons to be taught from that unit would be conservation, pollution, and endangered animals. This book could also be used to further enhance the writing process. Children could create their own version of this story. The story could be developed around a thing that interests them. It could be tied in with any of the units mentioned earlier. Through the sharing of their story creations, students would develop a sense of belonging and importance within a community of learners. I really enjoyed reading this book. I already share with my students a similar story called "The Taylor". I think the concept taught throughout the story is a great one. The activities that can be developed with the use of this book are endless.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a rather short story taken from a traditional yiddish folk song. The pictures are adorable and very colorful; each page has a die-cut hole that reveals the transformation of Joseph's overcoat as you turn the page. I think this is a fun book to add to your kid's collection.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Karen Morse on January 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I am so thrilled to see this book released again! My son (now 18) wore-out our copy as a toddler. We both love the simple humor and the enduring message of worth in all things. I can't wait to introduce the book to my Kindergarten class - wonderful kids whose lives revolve too much around how many Beanies they have collected. And what a treat to have the original song added to the book to share a piece of Yiddish heritage.
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