Joseph Had a Little Overcoat
Title: Joseph Had a Little Overcoat
Author: Simms Taback
CALDECOTT E TABACK
A very old overcoat is recycled numerous times into a variety of garments.
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