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A Sick Day for Amos McGee Hardcover – May 25 2010

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (May 25 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596434023
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596434028
  • Product Dimensions: 24.3 x 1.1 x 22.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“Observant readers will notice tiny surprises hidden in plain sight: a red balloon, a tiny mouse and sparrow popping up here and there in the story. Erin E. Stead, the illustrator, overlays her pencil sketches with gentle tones of pink, peach, blue and green, and bright red spots that belie the deceptive ordinariness of the text.” ―The New York Times Book Review

“Thick, creamy paper and a muted palette add to the gentle resonance of a story that ends with everyone tucked in at last for a sweet night's sleep.” ―Washington Post

“It's hard to believe that this is Erin Stead's first children's book-her woodcut and oil-ink artwork is so warmly appealing that she seems like an old pro.” ―Time Out New York Kids

“Here is a book that exemplifies that happy combination where words and pictures carry equal weight and yet somehow create a whole that defies arithmetic.” ―BookPage

“Newcomer Erin Stead's elegant woodblock prints, breathtaking in their delicacy, contribute to the story's tranquility and draw subtle elements to viewers' attention.” ―Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

“Erin E. Stead's beautifully wrought woodblock prints and pencil work create almost painfully expressive characters...This gentle, ultimately warm story acknowledges the care and reciprocity behind all good friendships.” ―Kirkus Reviews, STARRED review

“Erin Stead's attentively detailed pencil and woodblock illustrations reveal character and enhance the cozy mood of Philip Stead's gentle text.” ―Horn Book Magazine

“Whether read individually or shared, this gentle story will resonate with youngsters.” ―School Library Journal

“Like the story, the quiet pictures, rendered in pencil and woodblock color prints, are both tender and hilarious… The extension of the familiar pet-bonding theme will have great appeal, especially in the final images of the wild creatures snuggled up with Amos in his cozy home.” ―Booklist

“If you want to give a child a book that will remain with them always (and lead to decades of folks growing up and desperately trying to relocate it with the children's librarians of the future) this is the one that you want. Marvelous.” ―Fuse # 8 blog

About the Author

Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead won the Caldecott Medal for A Sick Day for Amos McGee, their first book together. Philip is also the author and illustrator of Creamed Tuna Fish and Peas on Toast. They divide their time between Ann Arbor, Michigan, and New York City.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The drawings in the book make this story believable. The illustrator and storyteller gently entice young readers (and old, if we're willing) into the magic and mystery of unassuming friendships with zoo animals. The dialogue is poised to kick-start the imagination of the reader, and the sketches - dabbed with just enough colour - encourage young minds toward creativity. With subtlety, this storytelling duo have launched a keeper for children's literature. I look forward to more masterpieces from Philip Stead and Erin Stead.
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Format: Hardcover
The kids and I are all fascinated and grateful for this heartwarming picture story about Amos, a zoo caregiver who has established his relationship with his animal friends so deep that when Amos was sick one day, it was their turn to return his favor and care. Readers will see the cutest animals with distinguished personalities, big and small, sweet and wise, array from elephant, penguin, turtle to owl.., all present to Amos in their own different way on this difficult day, the best healing medicine of all - friendship, Abundant details within pages to make your heart and soul smile and it is very easy to see why this book has won the prestigious Caldecott award (2011).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My Daughter is 2 years old and has me read this book to her every day at breakfast. She has part of it memorized and "reads along" with me. It's a great way for kids to understand how when you are nice to people and have good friends they will be good friends to you too.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9bcf8b94) out of 5 stars 229 reviews
158 of 171 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b9ec0d8) out of 5 stars One heckuva visual debut Nov. 11 2010
By E. R. Bird - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Sometimes children's book reviewers bandy about the term "classic" like it was a verbal shuttlecock. There's nothing that raises the savvy readers' eyebrows faster than to see some wordsmith drooling profusely over "a new classic" or a book merely "destined to become a classic". Even worse is when they start calling a book "old-fashioned". Nine times out of then what they're talking about is the fact that the book parrots some picture book title of the past. That's the crazy thing about A Sick Day for Amos McGee. It doesn't parrot anyone, and when you read it you feel like you've know the book your whole life. Could have been written last year, ten years ago, or fifty. Doesn't matter because the word "timeless" may as well be stamped all over each and every doggone page. If you want to give a child a book that will remain with them always (and lead to decades of folks growing up and desperately trying to relocate it with the children's librarians of the future) this is the one that you want. Marvelous.

Each morning it's the same. Amos McGee gets out of bed, puts on his uniform, and goes to his job as zookeeper in the City Zoo. Amos takes his job very seriously. He always makes sure to play chess with the elephant, run races with the tortoise, sit quietly with the penguin, blow the rhino's runny nose, and tell stories to the owl at dusk. Then one day Amos wakes up sick and has to stay in bed. The animals, bereft of his presence, decide something must be done. So they pick themselves up and take the bus to Amos's house to keep him company for a change. And after everyone helps him out, Amos reads them all a story and each one of them tucks in for the night.

It's strange to think that author Philip Stead wrote both this and last year's Creamed Tuna Fish and Peas on Toast. Not that the latter was a bad book or anything, mind you, but that was a case where the protagonist had to be a perpetual crankypants. The character of Amos simply couldn't be more different. He's like a cross between your favorite grandpa and Mr. Rogers. I read through this book several times to get down the cadence of Mr. Stead's wordplay too. He's prone to terms like "amble". He parallels Amos's activities in the first half with similar activities with the animals are taking care of him in the second. He knows when to leave sections wordless. And at the end, the "goodnight" section sort of makes this an ideal bedtime book for small fry. Practically invokes Goodnight Moon it does.

There's definitely a Sebastian Meschenmoser quality to this book (a statement that is going to be understood by approximately three people out there). Meschenmoser is a German illustrator who has written titles like Learning to Fly and Waiting for Winter. Erin Stead's style is similar partly because there is a common humanity to every animal she draws. It's not just the anthropomorphic details, like a penguin in socks (an animal Meschenmoser shares an affection for). It's deeper than that. Look at this cover and then stare deep into that elephant's eyes. There are layers to that elephant. That elephant has seen things in its day and has come out the wiser for it. It could tell you stories that would curl your hair or make you laugh till it hurt. That's what I see when I look at a Stead animal. I see a creature that has had a rich full life, and all because of how she has chosen to put pencil/woodblock to paper. Amos McGee himself could not be any better. You love him from the moment he stretches in his pajamas. Everyone here, from the owl to the tortoise is someone you believe in.

Add onto all that the little tiny details as well. How Amos and the penguin sit and stand together, ankles turned inward. The fate of the penguin's red balloon. Where Mr. McGee's teddy bear is at any given time. The portrait of the penguin in the home. The rabbit reading a newspaper on the bus. And then there's the penultimate spread where the animals gather around Amos as he gets ready to go to bed. His left foot rest gently against the rhino's nose, his left hand on the elephant's trunk. Very simple, natural, affectionate touches. You notice them, but you don't. That's the charm.

So there's the content. Now look at the actual art and design. According to the bookflap, Erin creates her illustrations by hand using woodblock printing techniques and pencil." That's impressive in and of itself, but I think the use of color is fascinating. Ms. Stead is sparing. On the one hand, you're never able to identify the book's exact year. On the other, you know in the back of your brain that if the publisher wanted to use all the colors of the rainbow, they could. You could also read the book several times before you noticed the elaborate flower design that ties the horizon in place behind the runny nosed rhino. Little touches, but necessary.

Husband and wife author/illustrator teams emerge once in a while, but they don't always have the golden touch. That the Steads not only have it but are also willing to use it as a force for good instead of evil is gratifying. It's also gratifying to think that maybe we'll see them do more books in the future. I'd like that. I'd like that very much, and I'm wagering that a whole generation of children reading and loving this book are going to like it as well. Here, I'll make it simple for you: Need to buy a picture book for a kid between the ages of four and eight? Buy this one. There you go. Problem solved.

For ages 4-8.
53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ba88ac8) out of 5 stars A possible Caldecott contender? July 25 2010
By Kiera Parrott - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Philip C. Stead's charming story about a zookeeper and his animal companions is matched beautifully with the elegant pencil drawings and woodblock printings by his wife, Erin. E. Stead. From the very start the reader is drawn in by a warm two-page spread that depicts Amos' bedroom. The action that moves the viewer's eye towards the right- Amos stretching as his day begins and his armoire opened invitingly- is complemented by a series of strong vertical lines. There are the wide yellow stripes of the wallpaper and the thin green stripes on his pajamas. The effect is a sense of being enveloped, or better yet, being hugged. It is a feeling appropriate in a story about mutual affection, genuine kindness, and true friendship.

Amos McGee is an older gentleman (in the truest sense of the term) who lives in a little house sandwiched between two high-rise apartment buildings (a nod to Virginia Lee Burton's The Little House, I presume). Each morning after a bit of oatmeal and tea, Amos heads out in a fresh-pressed uniform to begin his workday at the City Zoo. It is clear from the first glimpse that this zoo is atypical: outside the gate, sitting high in a branch of a tree on the sidewalk, sits a monkey as comfortable as can be; inside the gate we can see a giraffe frolicking on the wide lawn. It doesn't appear that these animals reside in the usual enclosures. Indeed, the animals seem to enjoy a life more akin to a fancy retirement community. We discover that Amos spends his days playing chess with the elephant, running races with the tortoise, sitting quietly with the shy penguin, soothing the rhino's runny nose, and reading bedtime tales to the owl. It only makes sense that when Amos comes down with a bad cold and cannot make it to work, his animal friends hop on the bus and take care of him in the same gentle, loving way.

Besides the artfully understated beauty of the story and the characters, A Sick Day for Amos McGee stands out from almost all other picture books I've seen this year for the absolute genius in its visual storytelling. Erin E. Stead does not merely illustrate. She breathes life into an already delightful story while adding many more layers of expression.
Stead's attention to the smallest details is what allows the reader/viewer to experience this book many times over and still discover surprises each time: from the miniature bus stop for the mouse to the tie-wearing bird; from the sweet absurdity of Amos' bunny slippers to the depiction of a penguin donning floaties. Even Stead's use of woodblock printing to add texture and a bit of color is thoughtful and well-used. It is apparent throughout the work that each pencil line, each color choice, each wrinkle in Amos' face or in the folds of the tortoises' knees, was deliberate and made with a careful eye and a loving hand. Stead has achieved elegance with an organic heart. There is nothing stuffy or too-precise about her lines. Rather, her remarkable drawing skills clearly allow her to bring an incredible warmth and individual personality to each character. The slightly retro feel of Amos' surroundings (his antique stove and pocket watch, the 1950's-esque bus, the lack of any modern technology) combined with the use of white space give the book a pleasant stillness and leisureliness.

Some books come into existence and it seems as if they have (or should have) always existed. They possess something timeless and fundamental. Perhaps they float in that creative ether, just waiting for the perfect author and artist to bring them to life. A Sick Day for Amos McGee is just such a book.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9bc76224) out of 5 stars So glad to have found this book! Jan. 13 2011
By Rachel A. Dale - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Our librarian threw this new book in with our requested items because she thought we would enjoy it. Boy, was she right! Sweet, sweet story with unique and fascinating illustrations. I couldn't get enough of the pictures. I've already looked to see if Stead illustrated other books, but....sadly...no.

I highly recommend this book for toddlers and preschoolers. LOVE IT!
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c4991f8) out of 5 stars A Sweet Story About Friendship and Animals Jan. 11 2011
By Delightful Children's Books - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A Sick Day for Amos McGee is a very sweet book about a friendship between a zookeeper named Amos and the animals he cares for. When Amos gets sick, his friends elephant, tortoise, penguin, rhinocerous and owl come to his house to comfort and care for him. Erin McGee's lovely, layered illustrations convincingly depict the friendship between Amos and the zoo animals.

I enjoyed reading this book and look forward to sharing it with my children. As a child, I would have loved imaging befriending the animals in this story. As a parent, I hope my children are surrounded by such thoughtful friends.

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c4991a4) out of 5 stars Gorgeous illustrations! June 21 2010
By Beccaboney - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I absolutely LOVE beautifully illustrated books, especially young children's books. This one fits the bill.

The story begins with an older man who wakes up alone and makes his way by bus to his job at the zoo. He befriends animals there who begin to look forward to his arrival. He seems like a gentle soul. When he doesn't arrive for work the next day, the animals decide to take the bus to see him. The end up caring for him at his home.

My one knock on this book is a personal one - animals are seen doing human-like acts, which I think confuses young children. But I know some adults think this is fun for the kids.

So the story is gentle which appeals to me, but what really knocks my socks off is the illustrations. It's the first by this woman, the author's wife, and I hope she does more. I was so intrigued by the face of the man she drew, and the animals look very realistic. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book.

Great for ages 4-8.