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STAIR At Home February Book of the Month: A Sick Day for Amos McGee

Posted by STAIR-Annapolis on February 17, 2021

The February Book of the Month is A Sick Day for Amos McGee, written by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead.

Amos McGee loves waking up early, putting on his perfectly pressed uniform, eating his breakfast, and heading out to catch the number five bus to his job at the zoo. He takes excellent care of his animal friends, and they love spending time with Amos. But one day, Amos comes down with a bad cold and has to stay home in bed. What will his friends do without him?

This sweet story by husband and wife author-illustrator team Philip and Erin Stead nearly never came to be.

According to a 2017 interview published in The New Yorker magazine, Erin had all but given up drawing: “Erin had been struggling–she’d dropped out of S.V.A. [School of Visual Arts], worried that she ‘couldn’t hack it.’ She had quit drawing for three years.”

Then one day, Erin left a small sketch on the couple’s kitchen table, the first piece of artwork she’d created in more than three years–a picture of an old man sitting with an elephant. Philip secretly showed the drawing to his publisher, who loved it, and he wrote the story of Amos later that week; despite her crisis of confidence, Erin provided the illustrations.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee won the 2011 Caldecott Medal for outstanding children’s book illustration. It was the first book Erin Stead ever illustrated.

We’ll have more to share next month, when we introduce our March Book of the Month: The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires.

“The Making of a Quiet Children’s Classic” by Sarah Larson, The New Yorker, March 15, 2017
A Sick Day for Amos McGee, Macmillan Publishers

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