When I was Young in the Mountains

By: Cynthia Rylant


Cynthia Ryland could not have picked a better title for this book. A young girl grows up in the mountains and tell her tails about the tremendous times she had with her family and people all around the town. This book shows the comforts of simple living in the country. This Caldecott Award winner truly warms the readers heart.


The author uses an episodic plot. The young girl describes numerous events while she was living in the mountains. She talked about family and friends. For example, she talks about pumping from the well with her brother. There is a simple message that the author is trying to portray and that is life is not complicated. This little girl did not need materialistic things and a fancy house. She needed her family and friends around her. At the end of the story, the young girl talks about how she never wanted to travel anywhere else because she was content on staying in the mountains with the people she cared about.

Artistic Style

The illustrator uses an impressionism style when creating this book. The images are very light going along with the emotion of the book. The images seem to fade out. For example, there is no squares or lines where the illustration ends. The sky fades away in the background. The theme of the illustrations is mainly green, symbolizing nature. The book looks as it was drawn out with a pencil and then colored over in color pencil. This style helps in showing how the book is so heart-felt and the true meaning of family.

Visual Elements

The illustrator has a mix of leaving one page just for text and having images with a space for text. The page with just the text has a corresponding image with great detail. There is no borders in the book showing how the free flow of life happens and the young girl's emotions towards life. Corresponding with the episodic plot, when turning the page there is another scene that is described by the young girl. The story is told in the young girl's perspective so their is various images of the young girl but also of events that took place.

Cynthia Rylant & Diane Goode

The author and the illustrator work great together on this Caldecott Award winning book. The text is fairly large size but not too long for a young reader. The illustrations correspond with the text by being very simple and to the point but also showing the reader much detail.


Lukens, R. J., Smith, J. J., & Coffel, C. M. (2013). A critical handbook of children's literature. Boston, MA: Pearson.

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