The Little Island, 1947 Caldecott Medal Winner
illustrated by Leonard Weisgard;
text: Golden MacDonald, pseud. [Margaret Wise Brown] (Doubleday)
A picture book written by the author of Goodnight Moon, and Runaway Bunny. The text is sparse and simple- appropriate for children from the age of 4 or 5. The storyline chronicles the passage of seasons with a host of animal characters. The primary viewpoint is from the perspective of the little kitten who ventures out to sea and discovers the little island.
The muted palette of natural hues of sea blues and multiple shades of grey enforce the beauty of the coastal setting. Multiple animals are showcased both on the earth and under the sea- including- seals, sea birds, and crayfish.
The powerful theme of the nature of faith is expounded in a profound way through a series of interactions between the small black kitten and a fish. The black cat implores the fish to show him how the little island is part of the land- the fish offers to take the kitten under the sea on a swimming voyage to explore what lies beneath the waterline. The kitten objects- as he cannot swim- under duress the fish implores the kitten to believe his statements about the island on the basis of trust-
“I can’t swim, ” said the cat. “Show me another way or I’ll eat you up.”
“Then you must take it on faith what I tell you,” said the fish.
“What’s that ?” said the cat___ “Faith.””To believe what I tell you about what you don’t know,” said the fish.
The brief moment of conflict resolves and the pattern of time passing- and seasons and the forces of the elements and their effects on the island completes the book in a satisfying manner. Readers will feel exhilarated as the book concludes in a peaceful reflection of all being well and good- “And it was good to be a little Island. A part of the world and a world of it’s own…”