The first thing the Caldecott committee will have to figure out is what a picture book is. I still remember staring at my feet when the chair of my committee asked, “What do you think makes a book a picture book as opposed to an illustrated book?”
The silence was interrupted by mass clearing of throats.
Bueller? Bueller? Anyone? Eventually, someone got the discussion going and our chair, I imagine, breathed a sigh of relief.
Over the course of the year we wrestled with the definition over and over. It’s still befuddling.
We have talked about this before — in 2011 it was Heart and Soul that spurred the discussion. With just a couple of books under our belts, we haven’t had this issue crop up yet, but it will. I thought I would bring up this dicey and difficult idea earlier rather than later.
Here is what the Caldecott Terms and Criteria state:
- A “picture book for children” as distinguished from other books with illustrations, is one that essentially provides the child with a visual experience. A picture book has a collective unity of story-line, theme, or concept, developed through the series of pictures of which the book is comprised.
- A “picture book for children” is one for which children are an intended potential audience. The book displays respect for children’s understandings, abilities, and appreciations. Children are defined as persons of ages up to and including fourteen and picture books for this entire age range are to be considered.
If you want to try to tease this out in your own brain, the example of Lobel’s Fables is an oft-discussed medal winner that some contend is an illustrated book. There are others. Oftentimes (BUT NOT ALWAYS) anthologies and poetry collections, even when the art is exceptional, probably were deemed illustrated books.
What surprises you about these ideas? What do YOU think is the difference between a picture book and “other books with illustrations”?