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A Child's Calendar

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From the short, frozen days of January, through the long green days of June, to the first light snowflakes of December, here are poems for all twelve months of the year. Each celebrates the familiar but nonetheless wondrous qualities that make a time of the year unique. Vibrant paintings follow the members of a busy, contented family and their friends through the seasons, capturing their affection for one another along with the snowy quiet of winter, the newness of spring, the ...
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From the short, frozen days of January, through the long green days of June, to the first light snowflakes of December, here are poems for all twelve months of the year. Each celebrates the familiar but nonetheless wondrous qualities that make a time of the year unique. Vibrant paintings follow the members of a busy, contented family and their friends through the seasons, capturing their affection for one another along with the snowy quiet of winter, the newness of spring, the still heat of summer, and the crispness of autumn.

A collection of twelve poems describing the activities in a child's life and the changes in the weather as the year moves from January to December.

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Editorial Reviews

Mailbox Bookbag
Thus begins this revised and strikingly reillustrated book, first published in 1965. Updike's graphic text is a mental feast for young and old. Hyman's illustrations, homey and rich, follow one family and its pets through the seasons. New details catch the eye with every read. Be it words or pictures, each student will relate to at least something in this handsome offering.
Sesame Street Parents
A Child's Calendaris a great way to introduce your child to the rewards of reading poetry.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
letter day for poetry lovers. Each month receives its due in shiveringly lovely verse while Hyman's brightly populated watercolors trace the corresponding activities of a lively Vermont family. The interplay of text and art has both depth and beauty. The language and illustrations are not merely pretty or ornamentally descriptive, but vibrantly alive--enough to keep young readers occupied through more than one reading. Crisp images from the poems are amplified or buried like treasures in the artwork. In March, "Pale crocuses/ Poke through the ground/ Like noses come/ To sniff around," while the family is pictured tending the sheep that likewise burrow their noses into waiting hands. Familiar things are made new with the grace and freshness of Updike's simple and accessible imagery. In June, for example, "The live-long light/ Is like a dream,/ And freckles come/ Like flies to cream." A breathtaking book that will unfold the world to new readers: "each flower, leaf,/ And blade of turf--/ Small love-notes sent/ From air to earth." Ages 4-up. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
A poem and painting to celebrate each month is a perfect opening for this new century. A Child's Calendar reveals the daily life of Ms. Hyman's family who lives in rural New Hampshire. The snowy landscape is inviting even to this sun-loving reviewer. Updike's poems are easy to learn--"the days are short, /The sun a spark/Hung thin between /The dark and dark." The July picnic invites family and pets to join in the fun as "We celebrate/Our national/Independence date." By the time Christmas appears, the reader feels a kinship with this loving multi-cultural family.
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
The striking and inviting cover depicts a cloudy gray sky and a snow covered New England landscape with young children poised at the top of a hill, sled at the ready. Inside are a series of pictures showing two neighboring families throughout the months. Starting with the short and frozen days of January, moving through the golden days of June to snowy days of December, Updike's poems paint their own pictures of the year. They are simple and lyrical--the type of poems that kids can enjoy. They celebrate the ordinary, but his choice of words to create the images are anything but ordinary. In "March" to illustrate, "Pale crocuses / Poke through the ground / Like noses come / To sniff around." The illustration convey another more subtle message. The neighboring families are of different races and they are shown living in complete harmony. It is a very pleasant package of poems originally published in 1965 and reissued with slight modifications and all new art by Hyman. 1999 (orig.
Library Journal
Gr 1-5-A year in New England as seen through a child-focused lens. Month by month, season by season, the poet's words and the expressive paintings create images that are reflective and playful, perceptive and pleasing. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-John Updike reads each of his 12 poems celebrating everyday life month by month (Holiday House, 1999) at a deliberate, measured pace. Background music plays lightly, changing with each piece to reflect the season, month, holiday, etc. that is being presented. Appropriate sound effects such as crunching snow and geese honking add texture to the even reading. The accompanying book features colorful watercolor illustrations by Trina Schart Hyman portraying the activities of a multiracial Vermont family. The slow-paced narration has little inflection and may not hold the interest of the youngest children. This read-along is a good way to introduce poetry and teach the months of the year.-Heather E. Miller, Homewood Public Library, AL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Updike has revised a set of 12 short poems, one per month, first published in 1965, and Hyman's busy, finely detailed scenes replace the original edition's illustrations by Nancy Ekholm Burkert. The verses are written in a child's voice—"The chickadees/Grow plump on seed/That Mother pours/Where they can feed"—and commemorate seasonal weather, flowers, food, and holidays. In the paintings a multiracial, all-ages cast does the same in comfortable, semi-rural New England surroundings, sitting at a table cutting out paper hearts, wading through reeds with a net under a frog's watchful eye, picnicking, contemplating a leafless tree outside for "November" and a decorated one inside for "December." The thoughts and language are slightly elevated but not beyond the ken of children, and the pictures enrich the poetry with specific, often amusing, incidents. (Poetry. 6-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823414451
  • Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/28/1999
  • Series: Caldecott Honor Book Series
  • Edition description: New
  • Pages: 36
  • Sales rank: 459,095
  • Age range: 6 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.70 (w) x 9.88 (h) x 0.35 (d)

Meet the Author

John Updike
Best known for a series of novels featuring Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, John Updike was one of the 20th century's most distinguished American authors. Over the course of his long, prolific career, he garnered numerous literary awards, including two coveted Pulitzer Prizes!


With an uncommonly varied oeuvre that includes poetry, criticism, essays, short stories, and novels, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner John Updike helped to change the face of late-20th-century American literature.

Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, Updike graduated summa cum laude from Harvard in 1954. Following a year of study in England, he joined the staff of The New Yorker, establishing a relationship with the magazine that continued until his death in January, 2009. For more than 50 years, he lived in two small towns in Massachusetts that inspired the settings for several of his stories.

In 1958, Updike's first collection of poetry was published. A year later, he made his fiction debut with The Poorhouse Fair. But it was his second novel, 1960's Rabbit, Run, that forged his reputation and introduced one of the most memorable characters in American fiction. Former small-town basketball star Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom struck a responsive chord with readers and critics alike and catapulted Updike into the literary stratosphere.

Updike would revisit Angstrom in 1971, 1981, and 1990, chronicling his hapless protagonist's jittery journey into undistinguished middle age in three melancholy bestsellers: Rabbit Redux, Rabbit Is Rich, and Rabbit at Rest. A concluding novella, "Rabbit Remembered," appeared in the 2001 story collection Licks of Love.

Although autobiographical elements appear in the Rabbit books, Updike's true literary alter ego was not Harry Angstrom but Harry Bech, a famously unproductive Jewish-American writer who starred in his own story cycle. In between -- indeed, far beyond -- his successful series, Updike went on to produce an astonishingly diverse string of novels. In addition, his criticism and short fiction became popular staples of distinguished literary publications.

Good To Know

Updike first became entranced by reading when he was a young boy growing up on an isolated farm in Pennsylvania. Afflicted with psoriasis and a stammer, he escaped his self-consciousness by immersing himself in drawing, writing, and reading.

An accomplished artist, Updike accepted a one-year fellowship to study painting at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Arts at Oxford University. He decided to attend Harvard University because he was a big fan of the school's humor magazine, The Harvard Lampoon.

One of the most respected authors of the 20th century, Updike won every major literary prize in America, including the Guggenheim Fellow, the Rosenthal Award, the National Book Award in Fiction, the O. Henry Prize, the American Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Union League Club Abraham Lincoln Award, the National Arts Club Medal of Honor, and the National Medal of the Arts.

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    1. Also Known As:
      John Hoyer Updike (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 18, 1932
    2. Place of Birth:
      Shillington, Pennsylvania
    1. Date of Death:
      January 27, 2009
    2. Place of Death:
      Beverly Farms, MA

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2001

    A Vivid, Visual Introduction to Poetic Imagery

    Today, many children only know about poetry from Dr. Seuss. A Child's Calendar is a rich introduction to the imagery of poetry that has entranced all who listen since the days of wandering story tellers and shamen. In this volume, classic New England situations and events are beautifully illustrated in warm, heavily inked water colors showing beautiful brown and pink faces amid nature's wonders. Although no one would buy this volume solely for the poetry, the resulting book of illustrated verses makes for the raw material for a garden of happy memories tended by reading to your child (or grandchild) and listening while she or he learns to read to you. Each month is featured, beginning with January, with a brief poem and two beautiful illustrations spread over two pages. The illustrations are clearly well deserving of the Caldecott Honor. I found some of the imagery particularly meaningful, and these lines are included below: January -- 'The sun a spark/Hung thin between/The dark and dark.' February -- 'And snapping, snipping/Scissors run/To cut out hearts.' March -- 'The timid earth/Decides to thaw.' April -- 'All things renew./All things begin.' May -- 'And Daddy may/Get out his hoe/To plant tomatoes/In a row.' June -- 'In golden hours,/Silver days.' July -- 'Bang-bang! Ka-boom!' August -- 'The pavement wears/Popsicle stains.' September -- 'The breezes taste of apple peel.' October -- 'Frost bites the lawn.' November -- 'The ground is hard,/As hard as stone.' December -- 'We were fat penguins,/Warm and stiff.' The subjects of sun, earth, plants, animals, and change recur in almost each poem. One of the charms of this book is that it makes the harsh weather interesting and appealing, helping a child understand the balanced nature of the year and his or her role in that balance. For someone who lives in a warm climate year round this book will seem very magical. After you have finished enjoying the book, I suggest that you and your child partner discuss other cycles that she or he has noticed. You could talk about the daily cycle of the sun, the monthly cycle of the moon, the twice daily tides, or even three meals a day. Young people often have trouble developing a perception of context for what is going on around them. This book an

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2012

    Loved the poetry, illustrations and inclusion of all monthly events, Highly recommend.

    Saw this at school when subbing and ordered it for grandsons ages 17 months and four. Hope it will be a joy to them as it was for me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2010

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