Name of Book: A Sick Day for Amos McGee
Author: Philip C. Stead
Illustrator: Erin E.Stead
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Audience: Ages 3-8
Summary: Amos, an elderly zookeeper, always makes time in his busy day to visit his friends. He plays chess with the elephant, races the tortoise and reads the owl (who is afraid of the dark) a bedtime story. When Amos becomes sick, his friends return the favor. This 2011 Caldecott Medal winner is a gem.
Literary elements at work in the story: In a good picture storybook, the text and images need to work together to tell a story. This book is best described as ‘quiet’, and the simple story of friendship and the muted woodblock and pencil illustrations work together beautifully. The characters – both animal and human – are described with unique personalities and characteristics that are charming.
(In a picture storybook, I am frequently as fascinated by the illustrations as I am by the story. For a fascinating look at how Erin Stead created the illustrations for A Sick Day for Amos McGee, check out her own blog post here.)
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? All of the characters in this book are male. (The use of male pronouns on only two pages of the entire book identify the animals as male.) It would have been nice to have a female pronoun used for one of the animals, but the story still stands on its own. It was refreshing to have an older adult as the main character.
Theological Conversation Partners: Romans 12:9-18. Luke 10:25-37. The concept of Christian community and of the ways we are called to treat people are important concepts in this book.
Faith Talk Questions
- What makes a good friend?
- How do you know that Amos and the animals are friends?
- Were all the friends just alike in this story? What differences did you see?
- What are some of the ways you and your friends are different?
- What are some of the ways you could be a friend to people in God’s world?
- The Bible says some things about being a friend. What are some things Jesus said about being a friend? (A parent or teacher may want to share the parable of the Good Samaritan or some of the passages related to the early church in Acts.)
This review was written by Ann Knox, Director of the Instructional Resource Center in the Library at Union Presbyterian Seminary.
A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.