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Joseph Had a Little Overcoat (Caldecott Medal Book)

Press:Viking Juvenile Viking Books for Young Readers (October 1, 1999)
Publication Date:1999-10
Author Name:Simms Taback


Joseph had a little overcoat, but it was full of holes—just like this book!  When Joseph's coat got too old and shabby, he made it into a jacket. 
But what did he make it into after that? And after that?As children turn the pages of this book, they can use the die-cut holes to guess what Joseph will be making next from his amazing overcoat, while they laugh at the bold, cheerful artwork and learn that you can always make something, even out of nothing.

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.

From School Library Journal

Pre-Grade 3-A book bursting at the seams with ingenuity and creative spirit. 
When Joseph's overcoat becomes "old and worn," he snips off the patches and turns it into a jacket.
When his jacket is beyond repair, he makes a vest.
Joseph recycles his garments until he has nothing left.
But by trading in his scissors for a pen and paintbrush he creates a story, showing "you can always make something out of nothing." Clever die-cut holes provide clues as to what Joseph will make next: windowpanes in one scene become a scarf upon turning the page.
Striking gouache, watercolor, and collage illustrations are chock-full of witty details-letters to read, proverbs on the walls, even a fiddler on the roof.
Taback adapted this tale from a Yiddish folk song and the music and English lyrics are appended.
The rhythm and repetition make it a perfect storytime read-aloud.Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ontario, Canada Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

This newly illustrated version of a book Taback first published in 1977 is a true example of accomplished bookmaking--from the typography and the endpapers to the bar code, set in what appears to be a patch of fabric. 
Taback's mixed-media and collage illustrations are alive with warmth, humor, and humanity.
Their colors are festive yet controlled, and they are filled with homey clutter, interesting characters, and a million details to bring children back again and again.
The simple text, which was adapted from the Yiddish song "I Had a Little Overcoat," begins as Joseph makes a jacket from his old, worn coat.
When the jacket wears out, Joseph makes a vest, and so on, until he has only enough to cover a button.
Cut outs emphasize the use and reuse of the material and add to the general sense of fun.
When Joseph loses, he writes a story about it all, bringing children to the moral "You can always make something out of nothing." Tim Arnold

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 Yorkcopyright ? 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers.
All rights reserved.

From AudioFile

Author Simms Taback reads the text of his popular picture book, one that weaves the tale about a piece of fabric that follows a man, first as his overcoat, then his coat, his vest, his scarf, and eventually as it wears away, Joseph has nothing left of his overcoat but the story to tell. 
With amusing sound effects, musical accompaniment, and Taback's playful reading, this is a listening delight.
The program is repeated on both sides of the cassette, once with page-turning cues.
At the end of the story, Taback sings the Yiddish folk song that is the basis for the story.
Together with the print version, JOSEPH HAD A LITTLE OVERCOAT is a worthy addition to any children's library, public or private.
2002 Audie Award Finalist © AudioFile 2002, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Children's Books,Classics,Fairy Tales, Folk Tales & Myths

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Comment List (Total:18)

  •     Beautiful book, one of my favorites. The illustrations are gorgeous! Beautiful colors with lots of little details. I bought this for my daughter when she was in kindergarten many years ago (she's now 18) and she loved it. I decided to buy again for my son who is in preschool and he also loves it. B

  •     One of the greatest Illustrators of all time!

  •     “Joseph had a Little Overcoat,” by Simms Taback, is about an old man living in a Shtetl in Eastern Europe.

  •     Adorable story. One of our favorites.

  •     Book in good condition -- great transaction!! Recommend!! A++

  •     This is an amazing book about finding renewed use and value in something over and over again. It has quickly became a favorite of my 5 year old.

  •     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.

  •     Our five year old grandson enjoyed this book. A new spin on Joseph.

  •     Love it !

  •     The story is fun about using things for more than one use, for loving what we have, and for creativity and imagination.

  •     Wonderful book to use with music class. Great Condition.

  •     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

  •     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.

  •     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.

  •     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!

  •     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.

  •     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.

  •     just ok


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