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It begins…

Calling Caldecott | The Horn Book

Hello to all from blog newbies Robin and Lolly! When Roger Sutton asked us to helm a Heavy Medal companion blog, was there any chance we would refuse? Absolutely not!

We both have inside knowledge about the workings of the Caldecott Committee, some of which we’ll share with you over the next four months as we host this conversation about the best picture books of 2011. Of course, the proceedings of each committee are largely hush-hush, but we will do our best to illuminate the process without getting in trouble with the ALSC police. And being a mock Caldecott blog, OUR committee will have complete transparency.

Here is a link to the official Terms and Criteria for judging the Caldecott Medal. As you will see, there are a lot of rules! The main ones to be aware of are that books under consideration must be

  • published in 2011
  • published in the USA
  • illustrated by a person whose primary residence is the USA

On a real committee, deliberations can’t begin until the nominations are in. We both have our favorites so far this year, but we want to hear yours first. The way we see it, instead of being a traditional Caldecott Committee of fifteen, this is a committee of us two plus all of you.

About Robin Smith and Lolly Robinson

Robin Smith is a second-grade teacher at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee. She is a reviewer for Kirkus and The Horn Book Magazine and has served on multiple award committees.
Lolly Robinson is the designer and production manager for The Horn Book, Inc. She has degrees in studio art and children's literature and teaches children's and adolescent literature at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. She has served on the Caldecott and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committees.



  1. Hooray! This should be a hoot (which is a feeble pun on the blog title).

  2. I can picture a nice quilted Caldecott Medal on Peaceful Pieces by Anna Grossnickle Hines.

  3. Melissa S. says:

    Grandpa Green by Lane Smith is my current favorite. Just love it. I notice new details every time I look at it!

  4. Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick. Amazing.

  5. Marianne Follis says:

    I can’t get enough of Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat by the “other” Stead (wouldn’t THAT be interesting?). I also love Kadir Nelson’s A Nation’s Hope (de la Pena).

  6. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    Sam, I wonder (heh) if Wonderstruck is as eligible as Hugo. The words and pictures interact very differently in Wonderstruck than they do in Hugo. I hope Lolly and Robin take this on.

  7. Karen Kessel says:

    Grandpa Green but I haven’t seen everything out there at this time.

  8. Bina Williams says:

    Hi Robin and Lolly! Yay to you both and to Roger for doing this! I agree that Grandpa Green is marvelous. I have seen a few other delights but will have to get back to you on what they are when I am at home.
    Best wishes for you great new blog!
    May the best book win!

  9. I love Dan Yaccarino’s ALL THE WAY TO AMERICA. The pictures are simple and direct, but he conveys power and emotion with an amazing economy of shape and beauty.

    I also love Tricia Tusa’s FOLLOW ME, a sensitive and lovely exploration of the magic of imagination.

  10. I like this a lot as well!

  11. Marianne Follis says:

    I agree…Dan Yaccarino’s All the Way to America is a remarkable book. I love the sweeping double page spreads. I think this is one of his best to date and deserves a good long look.

  12. Marianne Follis says:


  13. Lolly Robinson Lolly Robinson says:

    Now that we’ve launched the blog, the light is starting to dawn. When you people mention a book, I have to get my hands on it ASAP. (This is one of those times I wish I had a personal assistant.) I’ve almost finished assembling these titles but won’t be able to respond until work is done for the day — which will be 10ish. Maybe Robin will be able to chime in sooner, but speaking for myself, I’d like an extension until tomorrow.

  14. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    This is new to me, so I hope you will guys understand that I have to figure it out as I go along.

    I am in favor of an extension–mostly because, unlike the Real Committee, I don’t have every eligible book stacked up around the house like I did last year. I ordered a suggested book yesterday, but, even though my UPS driver loves me best of all, it might take a day or two to get it…and read it.

    I don’t want to talk too much about these four books quite yet. Part of the way these committees work is that folks chime in with titles of books they feel are distinguished in light of the criteria.

    “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed;
    Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept;
    Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept;
    Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures;
    Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.”

    So, keep on suggesting or re-suggesting. Build a case for your favorites. Feel free to say why you think your suggestion deserves a shiny sticker–especially in light of the criteria.

    For now, I think I will go shed a tear over Grandpa Green’s topiary. Again.

  15. Roger (et al), I must admit that my familiarity with the Caldecott criteria is much less than my familiarity with the criteria of another medal associate with an old dead guy – so I’m not sure if Wonderstruck will be problematic for the committee. But now that you mention it, Ben’s storyline throughout the first half of the book is indeed completely lacking in graphic representation… but man, once the storylines converge, wowzers. The full page spreads of the NYC skyline struck (heh) me the most. And now I’m going to have to look at Grandpa Green, which is at my desk as we speak!

  16. I am a big fan of Melvin and the Boy.

  17. Hooray for the new blog! I would like to suggest “A Ball for Daisy” by Chris Raschka for your consideration.

  18. I am so excited about your blog, Robin! (and Lolly!)
    I think I need to head back to the bookstore! I believe I might have to get my sixth grade reading class following your blog as well. They would love to weigh in their opinion!

  19. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    And we would love to hear from them, Kim! I bet some of them have read Hugo Cabret and would have some opinions about Wonderstruck, which should be in stores on the 13th or 14th. Can’t wait to hear what they (and you) think.

  20. Eric Carpenter says:

    Loved Wonderstruck but my favorite *picture book* art this year has to be in John Klassen’s I Wan’t My Hat Back. I don’t think I’ve seen such expressive eyes since Fieffer’s Bark, George.

    Pamela Dalton’s art for Brother Sun, Sister Moon is also stunning but I feel the uninteresting story diminish the book as a whole.

    Though I have only seen it in black & white, Matt Phelan’s art for his nonfiction graphic novel Around the World surely deserves consideration.

  21. Paul W. Hankins says:

    If we consider Wonderstruck for the way in which words and images work together, I’d like to throw in a pitch for Roots and Blues with poems by Arnold Adoff and paintings by R. Gregory Christie. Striking. . .beautiful. I’d like to see a Coretta Scott King Award on this one as well. And in the tradition of A Wreath for Emmett Till, I wouldn’t mind seeing a Printz Honor for this title.

  22. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    I am still waiting on my UPS driver to bring me Wonderstruck, so others might be having the same issue. However, Roots and Blues has been out since January, so, go it should be at your libraries now. Thanks for bringing it to our collective attention, Paul.

  23. I thought some of the later offerings in the year might change my mind, but no: I’m still in love with Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell. Beautifully done!

  24. Rebecca Hachmyer says:

    14 titles to consider so far….. can’t wait! 🙂

  25. Brenda Huante says:

    I haven’t received my copy of “Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature” yet, (Joyce Sidman and Beth Krommes) but I think I will vote on this one based on the illustrations I’ve seen so far on the cover and in the trailer.

  26. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    I don’t have it yet, but it promises to be a strong offering. Thanks for suggesting it, Brenda!

  27. I second this one!

  28. Alison O'Reilly says:

    What about Naamah and the Ark at Night: A Lullaby by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, illustrated by Holly Meade? The watercolor collage art is stunning.

  29. Grandpa Green is my top pick. It is beautiful, warm and still produces Lane Smith giggles.

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