Friday, March 8, 2019

Why Mosquitos Buzz in People's Ears - Verna Aardema

Summary: "In this Caldecott Medal winner, Mosquito tells a story that causes a jungle disaster. "Elegance has become the Dillons' hallmark. . . . Matching the art is Aardema's uniquely onomatopoeic text . . . An impressive showpiece."
-Booklist, starred review.

Winner of Caldecott Medal in 1976 and the Brooklyn Art Books for Children Award in 1977. (image and summary from

My Review: When a lone mosquito won't stop annoying Iguana, Iguana put sticks in his ears so he won't have to listen.  This leads to a misunderstanding that he is ignoring Python, who freaks out and startles some hares.  This chain reaction ultimately leads to an accident that ends in the death of a little owlet, and since the mother owl is grieving, she cannot call the sun and it won't rise.

What follows is getting to the root of the problem--who is to blame for the little owlet's death?  This book works with repetition, which is one of the staples of children's storytelling, repeating the cause and effect backward to figure out why things happened so that the perpetrator can be punished and the mother owl can wake the sun again, and we also learn the reason for the title of the book.

I love classic folk tales like this, simple and straightforward, but also with a good moral, that one small thing can lead to bigger things, for good or ill.

The Dillons are masterful artists, a husband and wife team whose illustrations are almost always different in every book they do, keeping things interesting and never sticking to one style in particular.  Their art for Mosquitoes was a unique take which fit the tale perfectly, and as a fun side note, I got to meet Leo and Diane Dillon several years ago, and they said while they liked doing this book and it won the Caldecott, they would never use the method of art they used to create the art in Mosquitoes again, since it was too difficult.

This book has been a favorite for years, and will continue to be a favorite of mine for years to come.

My Rating: Four Stars

For the sensitive reader: as mentioned above, this story does deal with the death of a little baby owl.  

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