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. A Sick Day for Amos McGee is the first collaborative effort by the husband-and-wife team of Philip and Erin Stead, and even their dedication is intertwined as each acknowledges the other in a never-ending circle of words. Their overlapping partnership produces illustrations and text in easy harmony for this understated tale sprinkled with subtle humor.
Amos is an elderly zookeeper who lives alone and methodically follows his daily routine. He schedules time to interact tenderly with each animal according to its need. In turn, when he doesn’t show up for work, the animals reciprocate by taking the bus to check on their sick caretaker. They know just what he needs and gently modify their activities to adjust to his condition. With their friend on the mend, they all fall asleep in a friendly huddle.
This is a heartwarming story, comforting without a lot of fuss. The unusual mixture of pencil drawing and softly colored woodblock printing enhances the peaceful tone. It’s an obvious choice as a reassuring read on a child’s sick day or before bedtime, but it would also be one to keep in mind for any time a quiet break is in order.
Copyright 2010 BookPage Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Fall
Every day kindly zookeeper Amos McGee plays chess with the elephant, keeps the penguin company, reads stories to the owl, etc. When Amos stays home one day, his friends have just the right medicine: they make time to visit their good friend. The attentively detailed pencil and woodblock illustrations reveal character and enhance the cozy mood of the gentle text. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2010 #3
Kindly zookeeper Amos McGee is a creature of habit, much like his animal charges. Every day Amos follows the same morning routine; and when he gets to work, he "always [makes] time to visit his good friends." Amos has a special relationship with each one of his pals: he plays chess with the thoughtful elephant, races the tortoise "who never ever lost," quietly keeps the shy penguin company, has a handkerchief ready for the runny-nosed rhino, and reads stories to the owl "who was afraid of the dark." Erin Stead's attentively detailed pencil and woodblock illustrations reveal character and enhance the cozy mood of Philip Stead's gentle text. Wiry, elderly Amos has a kindly Mister Rogers air about him; the animals, while realistically rendered overall, display distinct personalities without uttering a word. When Amos stays home one day to nurse a cold, his friends have just the right medicine: they make time to visit their good friend. Two wordless spreads showing the animals (and one peripatetic red balloon) taking the bus to Amos's house have an almost surreal quality, which adds some low-key anticipation to the understated story. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2010 April #2
Amos McGee, an elderly zookeeper, enjoys a clockwork life (one teaspoonful of sugar for oatmeal, two for tea and the number five bus to work) until the sniffles force him to stay in bed and miss his daily visits with animal friends. Fragile, gangly Amos, in striped pajamas and ill-fitting zoo uniform, appears as crushingly vulnerable as a child. Children will immediately like and understand him, as they too take comfort in reassuring routines--and would certainly love playing chess with an elephant or running races with a tortoise! Muted greens, browns and blues dominate pages, while brighter yellows and reds leaven the palette's mild melancholy. Erin E. Stead's beautifully wrought woodblock prints and pencil work create almost painfully expressive characters. Wrinkles and crinkles describe the elephant's sagging mass and the rhino's girth, as well as their keen sensitivity. Owl's furrowed brow communicates deep concern even as the group heads to Amos's home to check on him. This gentle, ultimately warm story acknowledges the care and reciprocity behind all good friendships: Much like Amos's watch, they must be wound regularly to remain true. (Picture book. 2-6) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Media Connection Reviews 2010 August/September
Amos works at a zoo. He befriends a shy penguin, he reads to the owl, and he races with a tortoise. Amos takes care of the animals who also happen to be his friends. He is a dedicated employee who takes his job seriously, and the animals rely on Amos to perform his caretaker duties. But what happens when the zookeeper gets sick? The animals come and take care of him. This is a sweet, but simple story about the value of friendship, loyalty, dedication, and duty. Additional Selection. Paula Duffy Swan, Librarian, Spokane Falls Community College, Spokane, Washington ¬ 2010 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2010 May #2
With quiet affection, this husband-and-wife team tells the story of a zookeeper whose devotion is repaid when he falls ill. On most days, the angular, elderly Amos rides the bus to the zoo, plays chess with the elephant ("who thought and thought before making a move"), sits quietly with the penguin, and spends time with his other animal friends. But when Amos catches a cold, the animals ride the bus to pay him a visit, each, in a charming turnabout, doing for Amos whatever he usually does for them. The elephant sets up the chessboard; the shy penguin sits on the bed, "keeping Amos's feet warm." Newcomer Erin Stead's elegant woodblock prints, breathtaking in their delicacy, contribute to the story's tranquility and draw subtle elements to viewers' attention: the grain of the woodblocks themselves, Amos's handsome peacock feather coverlet. Every face--Amos's as well as the animals'--brims with personality. Philip Stead's (Creamed Tuna Fish and Peas on Toast) narrative moves with deliberate speed, dreaming up a joyous life for the sort of man likely to be passed on the street without a thought. Ages 2-6. (June)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
K-Gr 2--Amos McGee, an elderly man who works at the zoo, finds time each day for five special friends. With empathy and understanding he gives the elephant, tortoise, penguin, rhinoceros, and owl the attention they need. One morning, Amos wakes up with a bad cold and stays home in bed. His friends wait patiently and then leave the zoo to visit him. Their trip mirrors his daily bus ride to the zoo and spans three nearly wordless spreads. Amos, sitting up in bed, clasps his hands in delight when his friends arrive. The elephant plays chess with him, and the tortoise plays hide-and-seek. The penguin keeps Amos's feet warm, while the rhinoceros offers a handkerchief when Amos sneezes. They all share a pot of tea. Then the owl, knowing that Amos is afraid of the dark, reads a bedtime story as the other animals listen. They all sleep in Amos's room the rest of the night. The artwork in this quiet tale of good deeds rewarded uses woodblock-printing techniques, soft flat colors, and occasional bits of red. Illustrations are positioned on the white space to move the tale along and underscore the bonds of friendship and loyalty. Whether read individually or shared, this gentle story will resonate with youngsters.--Mary Jean Smith, Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN[Page 92]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.