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The Hello, Goodbye Window

2006 Randolph Caldecott Medal Winner

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The Hello Goodbye Window - 2006 Caldecott Medal Winner
Hyperion Books for Children
Two well-known names, author Norton Juster and illustrator Chris Raschka, join their talents to create a story about a child’s grandparents’ front window. It’s not just an ordinary window; it’s The Hello, Goodbye Window. The memorable and real-life experiences around this kitchen window are told through the voice of one little girl. This story about the loving relationship between grandparents and grandchild is for all ages but especially for preschoolers through children in second grade.
Through the voice of a small child, Norton Juster has portrayed a slice of life that is familiar to most children, a visit to grandparents. From the beginning of the visit as the young child walks up the brick path to Nana and Poppy’s house, it is the kitchen window that is the focal point of all this family’s adventures. As you enter the house you can make silly faces and play peek-a-boo through the window.

Once inside the house, there is the big kitchen with a table by the window to color on, drawers with stuff to take out, glass jars with lots of everything, and all kinds of pictures from the olden days. When it gets dark outside, the window works just like a mirror. When the lights are off, Nanna can look through the window and name all the stars. In the morning, it’s back to the kitchen where the window is still there for another day full of fun and wonder.

The Illustrations

Awarded the 2006 Randolph Caldecott Medal for The Hello, Goodbye Window, Chris Raschka has created energetic and joyful illustrations that work with the text to bring the story to life. With watercolors, pencils, colored pencils and crayons, the blurred images and unclear edges aid in depicting the story from a child’s view. The scribbles and almost messy detail add texture and make it appear that the little girl drew the pictures herself.

At times, the illustrations provide visuals that build on the text. For example, when the child helps her Nanna in the garden, the little girl says it is a very nice garden, but there’s a tiger who lives behind the big bush, so she doesn’t go there. The illustrations reveal it is not a tiger at all, but a striped house cat in the garden.

When the moon shines through the window at night Raschka uses shades of cool blue colors. During the day when the sun pours in the window, he emphasizes warm shades of yellow. Yet, most of all, it is the happy faces of this multiracial family that express the warmth of a memorable visit to Nana and Poppy’s house.

Author Norton Juster

Norton Juster was born in 1929 in Brooklyn, New York, and spent his childhood there. The son of an architect, Juster studied architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. After a stint in the U.S. Navy, Juster practiced architecture for many years, collaborating on the design of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and building projects for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in Virginia, among others. After teaching at Pratt Institute in New York City, Norton Juster taught at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts for more than 20 years where he was Professor of Design.

Juster’s first book, The Phantom Tollbooth, a fantasy for ages 8-12 that has delighted readers of all ages, was published in 1961 and has become a classic. Some of his other children’s books include The Dot and the Line and The Odious Ogre. In 2008, Sourpuss And Sweetie Pie, Juster and Raschka’s sequel to The Hello, Goodbye Window, was published.

According to a Reading Rockets interview, when Juster finished The Hello Goodbye Window, he worried it was not a story. He said, "And it wasn't, it was just a little piece of life." The story is based on Juster's observations of his granddaughter's weekly visit to his home, with its big kitchen window.

(Sources: Reading Rockets Interview with Norton Juster, Scholastic Bio: Norton Juster)

Illustrator Chris Raschka

Christopher Raschka was born in Huntington, Pennsylvania in 1959. Growing up in Chicago with his parents and an older brother and younger sister, Chris Raschka enjoyed painting and playing musical instruments, becoming an excellent viola player. Raschhka graduated from St. Olaf College in Minnesota with a degree in biology.

The road to picture book illustrator was not a straight path; Raschka started college with an interest in becoming a zoologist and, then, became interested in medicine. In fact, it was not until his first day of medical school that Raschka made a last minute decision not to attend but to become a painter. He began doing illustrations for a legal magazine and went on to do political cartooning.

In 1992, his first book, Charlie Parker Played Be Bop was published. In 1996, his picture book Yo, Yes! was awarded a Caldecott Honor. Since then he has illustrated or written and illustrated more than 50 books. These include: Good Sports, a book of poetry about sports, by Jack Prelutsky, A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms by Paul B. Janeczko, and A Poke in the I, a collection of concrete poetry, compiled by Paul B. Janeczko. Chris Raschka was awarded the 2012 Randolph Caldecott Medal for his wordless picture book A Ball for Daisy. For more children's picture books and illustrators honored with the Randolph Caldecott Medal for picture book illustration, see 75 Years of Caldecott Medal Winners.

(Sources: National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature, Reading Rockets Interview with Chris Rauschka, Pennsylvania Center for the Book: Christopher Raschka)

My Recommendation

The vibrant yellow cover of The Hello, Goodbye Window, with the happy faces and waving hands, introduces a welcoming picture book for all ages. With bouncy fun and tender moments, readers will not only see the special family bond but will feel it. The illustrations may be a little messy for some, but they stretch the imagination and expose children to a different art style.

Older children can talk or write about their favorite childhood memory while younger children can make their own window drawing. This story may also encourage a conversation about feelings and emotions. For example, after a wonderful visit, the child is happy to see her parents but sad to say goodbye to her grandparents. As the story comes to a close, the little girl imagines having her own home someday and says, "I'm going to have a special Hello, Goodbye Window too." (Michael Di Capua Books, Hyperion Books for Children, 2005. ISBN: 9780786809141)

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