Joseph Had a Little Overcoat

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Joseph Had a Little Overcoat
Cm joseph overcoat.jpg
Author Simms Taback
Illustrator Simms Taback
Country United States
Genre Children's picture book
Publisher Viking Press
Publication date
ISBN 978-0-670-87855-0
OCLC 40159006
398.2 E 21
LC Class PZ7.T1115 Jo 1999

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat is the title of a 1999 book by Simms Taback that won the 2000 Caldecott Medal.[1][2] The main character is Joseph, a 40-something Jewish farmer, who has a little striped overcoat. When it is old, Joseph makes it into a little jacket and so on until he makes it into a button. Then Joseph loses the button and makes a story out of it. The moral of the story is "you can always make something out of nothing."

The story has die-cut illustrations consisting of watercolor and collage.[3] Readers of the story say that Joseph greatly resembles Simms Taback.[4]

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat is based on the Yiddish song I Had a Little Overcoat.[3][5] Barbara Kiefer, chair of the Caldecott Award Committee, commented, "Vibrant rich colors, playful details, and skillfully-placed die cuts contribute to the books raucous merriment that takes this Yiddish folk song far beyond the simple words."[1]

The story is read on the children’s show Between the Lions.[6]


Preceded by
Snowflake Bentley
Caldecott Medal recipient
Succeeded by
So You Want to Be President?