A Child's Calendar

written by John Updike
illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman

John Updike's A Child's Calendar
illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman

Children's book review by Steve Barancik

Ages 4-8

A poem for each month of the year

The poetically inclined are in for a treat as John Updike shares a bite-sized poem to commemorate every month.

The poems are short (four or five rhyming couplets each) but loaded with observation and detail, as one might expect from a Pulitzer Prize winning author of books for grown-ups.

cover image A Child's Calendar

Here's an excerpt from March:

The mud smells happy
On our shoes.
We still wear mittens,
Which we lose.

And heck, here's another for you. See if you can guess Updike's month:

The ground is hard,
As hard as stone.
The year is old,
The birds are flown.

And yet the world,
Displays a certain

It's November

First published in 1965, A Child's Calendar was reissued in 1999 with new illustrations by Trina Schart Hyman, and it's this version which merited a Caldecott Honor for illustration.

Hyman features a biracial family in a rural (hints of Vermont) setting with a whiff of bygone days. It all feels normal and inclusive - the Christmas tree ornamentation even includes a Jewish star. Previous editions feel a little pale (pun not entirely unintended) in comparison.

A Child's Calendar by John Updike, illustrations by Trina Schart Hyman.

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