So, our loquacious friends at Heavy Medal are burning up the internet talking about a picture book, Kadir Nelson’s Heart and Soul. Do read that discussion and then ask the big question, “Is this a picture book or an illustrated book?”
I know, half of you are rolling your eyes and saying, “Isn’t that the same dang thing?” Well, according to the Gods of the Caldecott Award, no. This whole picture book/illustrated book difference is an important distinction. According to the definition in the manual, “A ‘picture book for children’ as distinguished from other books with illustrations, is one that essentially provides the child with a visual experience.”
Kadir Nelson’s oil paintings are phenomenal. They allow the reader to fully understand the lives of the African Americans who are such an important part of the history of this country. There are breath-taking spreads depicting the Middle Passage and the Civil War. Portraits of Pap and his family peer into the readers’ eyes and souls.
Is the book important and beautiful and moving? Yes. Should it be part of every child’s reading and learning experience? I think so.
But, is it a picture book? I would have to say no. The book is not “essentially a visual experience.”
The committee will wrestle with this one. What say you?