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2014 Caldecott Winners Announced

2014 Caldecott winners

Well, well, well, as Robin is wont to say.

In case any devoted followers of this blog missed it ;), the Caldecott winner and honor books were announced this morning, and they are:

Winner: Locomotive by Brian Floca

Honors: Journey by Aaron Becker; Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle; and Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner

Congratulations to all the books, and kudos to the 2014 Caldecott committee for choosing some fine books amongst the extraordinary number of deserving picture books this year.

Here at Calling Caldecott, we can’t help but notice that several of the winners got a little extra love and attention from us — but that some of our other favorites are missing from the list. And that last year saw five honor books recognized, whereas this (very, very strong) year saw only three.

What do you think of the committee’s choices? Were there any surprises? Can you discern any trends or similarities among the winning books (outside their excellence)? We’d love to hear from you.



Martha V. Parravano About Martha V. Parravano

Martha V. Parravano is book review editor of The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.



  1. All wordless Honors. Fascinating.

    (And an ILLUSTRATED book wins the Newbery!)

  2. I love the choices of the committee, and think they did an excellent job. I was surprised at some of the omissions, but that seems to happen every year. Locomotive is a fantastic book, and I am very happy to see it receive recognition, and I loved all three of the honor books as well, so I guess there is little to complain about.

  3. Choooooooo choooooooooo!!! Way to go, committee!

    But NOTHING for Mr. Tiger! Well, besides the love we all have for him, which still counts for a lot in my opinion. =)

  4. Martha V. Parravano Martha V. Parravano says:

    My thoughts exactly, Sam Bloom!

  5. My comment responding to Martha on a previous thread did not take so here it is:

    Martha, I am sorry that you took my comments as more aggressive than I intended. And as a 30 years teacher and the parent of five kids I know well that it doesn’t take a sticker on a book to validate it as a work of art. The “game” I spoke about was a figure of speech not a literal proclamation of what happened. You can support the committee all you want and stand behind every one of their sections, but in the end this is all about personal taste. These members don’t have a stranglehold on common sense, not artist bearings at all. Today’s decision is in the end the decision of a relatively small committee, who may know quite a bit about picture books, but whose taste is no more worthy than yours, mine or anyone else’s. I’d like to think that my massive personal collection, my 16 years on my town’s library board, my personal passion for children’s books and my year-by-year dissection of what I feel are the year’s best would entitled me to both declare what I think are the best books and politely criticize the selections. You Martha, in my opinion are the equal (or more) than anyone on that committee who voted.

    Are we to accept that Ann Nolan Clark’s SECRET OF THE ANDES (which won the Newbery) is a greater book that CHARLOTTE’S WEB, which is one of the greatest children’s books of all-time? Right. Or that a book like HEY AL! was stronger than Paul Zelinsky’s RUMPLESTITSKIN? Or that A BALL FOR DAISY was more artistically worthy or more emotionally moving than GRANDPA GREEN? No, this are the opinion of a committee, a worthy and tireless and super-qualified committee, but a committee nonetheless. As such the ALA announcements, are now more valid than the Oscars, the results of film critics’ groups, the Emmys, the Nobel Prizes, the Tony’s or any other book award.

    Let’s not kid ourselves into thinking these results speak for all other teachers, book aficionados, librarians and many others who have their own views at what art is. I give these people credit for working so hard and for trying to be as discerning as possible, but no they do not corner good taste.

  6. And what about the distinguished HORN BOOK readers (ya know the teachers, librarians, book fans) out there who declared just two days ago that JOURNEY and MR. TIGER GOES WILD were far away the two best picture books of the year in a resounding show of support? Does that result now take a back seat to the declaration of a small committee?

    Let’s put things in the proper perspective here.

  7. Martha V. Parravano Martha V. Parravano says:

    Sam, you and I know what you and I wanted to be recognized by the committee 🙂 … but in my 30 plus years of picking my own favorite books and then seeing what the committee chooses — well, it rarely aligns. This year was one of my closest in terms of personal choice!

    Being on an ALSC award committee is a fairly specific experience. There are rules, and there are committee dynamics — both of which tend to dictate what happens. So I think given those constraints (and knowing how difficult consensus is when you also have to apply cold hard numbers), I do think the committee did a great job.

    And definitely I did not say that the award speaks for all teachers and librarians…. of course that’s not ever possible. Tastes do vary! But hopefully one can try to look at the books through the committee lens, celebrate the ones that are honored, and go out and talk up the ones that didn’t make it. You love a lot of books this year (rightly!), so you have a big job ahead of you!

  8. Well Martha, that’s fair enough. I can’t dispute a single point you make there.

    I have actually spent the last four months gathering books for my classes and reading all the contenders and some others that are contenders in the minds of first graders. The entire process has also cost me dearly, as I am one who falls in love with a book and then feels he has to own it. Ha! I know there are many others here on these pages who are much the same. First I go to the library and take the books out on loan, then order the ones I like. problem is I like too many! lol.

  9. I loved participating in your Mock Awards this year! There were SO MANY great books – we were all spoiled for choice. While my personal favorite was Journey, I am happy that Locomotive won – it too was an excellent book. I find it very exciting that so many quality children’s books are coming out – wordless! How wonderful that these books allow a child to direct the way he or she wants the story to go.

  10. Does anyone have anything to say about the curious decision of the Robert F. Siebert committee to give the top prize to PARROTS OVER PUERTO RICO, which in event had the book finishing ahead of LOCOMOTIVE, which won an Honor from said committee.

    I realize this is a further example of different committee’s coming up with different decisions, but I did think it was particularly ironic, since LOCOMOTIVE then went on to win the Caldecott. But yeah, the Siebert honors non-fiction books and isn’t only concerned with illustrations.

    Also, I wonder if there was anyone out there watching the broadcast (and this was the first I actually watched thanks to the HORN BOOK link and urgings) who didn’t think right after hearing that JOURNEY, FLORA and WUFFLES won the three Honors that MR. TIGER was in for the gold. For those fleeting seconds, I would guess most like me were not thinking about LOCOMTIVE.

    The book community must feel some good vibes for Floca though. He is such a master craftsman, and this mild upset more than makes up for past no shows. Nice!

  11. Barb Outside Boston says:

    I found it interesting that PARROTS won the SIbert after the “toes” discussion here. And I admit I was also hoping for MR TIGER for the top award.

  12. Ha Barbara, I was thinking much the same about the PARROTS’ Siebert win.

    The love for David Wiesner is remarkable. He now has 3 Caldecott Medals (tied with 96 year-old Marcia Brown, and now 3 Honors to boot for a total of 6. I think Maurice Sendak with one Caldecott Medal and 7 Honors is the all-time leader in total mentions. But heck, Wiesner is a genius, so who could complain. I like MR. WUFFLES more and more every time I pick it up.

  13. Susan Dailey says:

    I was hugely disappointed that Mr. Tiger didn’t make the list, but was ecstatic that Flora did. (Floras on the Caldecott and Newbery list. Surprising!) I would have put money on Mr. Tiger if I was a betting person. Good thing I’m not!

  14. What a great day. The biggest surprise for me was three honors! I thought for sure it would be either one or five, with no in between. But I was wrong. FLORA! You go, girl. Over the moon.

  15. It WAS a great day. I wasn’t sure I’d need a plane to fly home this afternoon!

    LOCOMOTIVE was the only book in our Mock list I had absolutely no reservations 😉 about. I even considered voting only for that book in our Mock ballots, but made myself pick two others in the first round in an effort to respect the process. And I imagine that may be how it went down with the committee this past weekend. There were so many great books to talk about this year, and there STILL are a lot of great 2013 picture books to love in the years to come.

    My students haven’t finished their Mock Caldecott work yet, what with all the snow days and vacation days this month, but I’m expecting JOURNEY and MR. TIGER to land near the top of their ballots (too many kids participate to come to a consensus.) But you know what? They also love SPLAT THE CAT, and I make a point of honoring their choices as much as the committee’s, reminding them a different group of adults & children probably would have chosen a different group of books to honor.

    I try to make sure my students don’t think of this as a Winners & Losers proposition; rather an invitation to look extra carefully at some works of art, honor the work of some authors and illustrators, and in effect, pave the way for others. Ultimately, it’s up to the reader to discover if a book speaks personally to him/her and decide whether or not s/he loves the book enough to borrow or buy it.

    For those students who love a competition that more resembles a popularity contest, I refer them to the CBC Children’s Book Week Children’s Choice Book Awards in May. 🙂

    Thank you Robin, Lolly & Martha for giving us all the opportunity to learn from you, share our thoughts, and participate – albeit from the sidelines – in this most challenging but rewarding endeavor.

  16. Finally I’ve had a chance to read and digest (a little!) all the discussion here and the awards!
    Wowza – not what I was expecting at all! But I do love the choices. They are all fine books. Like Sam, I am sad about the books that are missing. And I’m also puzzled about the 3 honor books.

    I do find I do not pick close to what committees like each year. This year, I do love the choices. That is not always true. I usualy have the same experience with the Oscars and in both cases I feel disappointed. I wonder if I’m just too simple and/or naive and/or caught up in the books and childrens’ responses to them to think about the politics or negotiating or complextities of choosing the books.

    And the parrot toes – those zygodactyl toes – that are missing in Parrots over Puerto Rico! Very mysterious. My husband was discussing the toes and the lack thereof in the book with some of his biologist friends/collegues at work and they were impressed that we were discussing them in the context of children’s books. They also were helpful in convincing my husband that this is a very important part of parrot biology and a missing toe is strange in a book such as this.

    Anyway – I’m rambling now. I think the beauty of the book is extraordinary and I love it anyway, but I will discuss this detail with my son when we read it.

    I am still digesting, but I am happy. I am also trying to work out how to buy Locomotive, Flora and Mr. Wuffles! without my husband noticing. On the other hand, he did say that he was very impressed by Locomotive when we looked at it at our loved Children’s Book World a few months ago.

    Again, my thanks to Robin, Martha and Lolly and to everyone who contributes so much to this blog. It is a joy in my life. Hope we have a few more discussions.

  17. PS: sorry for all the typos etc. It is late and I didn’t get much sleep last night between the excitement, finishing a blog posting and children awake in the night and up very early. I should have waited to post tomorrow.

  18. This was our first year holding a mock Caldecott at our public library where patrons voted throughout January from a list nominated by the children’s librarians. The Day the Crayons Quit won by a landslide. I’m not surprised since most children were voting for story and laughs as much as if not more than illustration. However, I am pleased to say that after Crayons the book with the most votes, quite a few actually, was Locomotive. The Caldecott Medal winning book was our election’s second place! And yet, when just the children’s librarians voted, we chose Mr. Tiger. In the patron election the next two runners up are Honor Books: Journey and Flora and the Flamingo. Mr. Wuffles, while a favorite, didn’t make it to our nominee list. I really don’t care who won what. It was a great experience to have the community thinking and talking about about children’s books, illustration and art. I also enjoyed following this blog. Cheers to all of the worthy books published last year and hear’s to 2014.

  19. Aye Allison. Fantastic post! Loved all your reflections and passion fro children’s books.

    There is simply no way to justify the omission of MR. TIGER GOES WILD. None. The book finished in virtually every Top Ten list of children’s book critics (New York Times, Kirkus, SLJ, etc.) and was a HUGE favorite among librarians, parents, book lovers and of course students, who ADORE it and can never get enough of it. To these eyes it’s omission compromised the results. There is NO WAY UNDER THE SUN that the book is “inferior” or “less worthy” than FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO and MR. WUFFLES. I refuse to just turn my head and say “great job ladies and gentlemen” when in effect that dropped the ball on the book. The people on these small committees are not Gods, and like any other awards group in any field of art they have and don’t even try to hide the cliquish mentality.

    Did they work hard? Yes. Did they take their job seriously and try to be discerning? Yes, absolutely. But they did not make any decision here that in the end can be seen as arbitrary as any other final decision.

    In 1952 they gave the Newbery Award to Ann Nolan Clark’s SECRET OF THE ANDES. They gave the Caldecott Honor to E.B. White’s CHARLOTTE’S WEB, in one of the biggest travesties in the history of the ALA. Many libraries don’t even have copies of Clark’s book anymore, and few children’s book lovers have even heard of the book. Yes, CHARLOTTE’S WEB may well be the most beloved book of all time. There are many other examples of omission that I don’t need to get into here. The point is whatever decision is made today can be artistically obsolete tomorrow.

    No MR. TIGER GOES WILD among the Honors at the very least taints these awards. Sorry. This is the way I feel. I don’t care how hard they worked. That was an embarrassment.

  20. Mistake—The ALA did NOT give the “Caldecott Honor” to CHARLOTTE’S WEB as I erroneously stated above. I meant to say “Newbery Honor.”

    After looking through all the books that ultimately did not make the final cut, I have yet to find the invalidating criteria for these beautiful items:

    Stardines Across the Sky
    The Matchbox Diary
    On A Beam of Light
    A Splash of Red
    Inside Outside
    Nino Wrestles the World
    The Mighty Lalouche

    Heck these were books that repeatedly made the ‘Best of’ lists of book critics and librarians, yet in the end they were also-rans. I respect the work that goes into the process, but I do not appreciate the “holier than thou attitude” of these appointees. This is why in the general population the Caldecotts and Newberys are looked on with the same derision as the Oscars, the Tonys, the Emmys, the Grammys and all the rest, sad to say.

  21. It might be borderline acceptable if the committee had given 5 or 6 Honors while ignoring MR. TIGER.

    But they did not. They gave only 3 Honors.

    So basically, you can trad it the way you want but by snubbing MR. TIGER GOES WILD the ALA is telling you that Peter Brown’s book is NOT a GREAT book. Nearly everyone else has been saying unconditionally all year that MR. TIGER GOES WILD is a picture book masterpiece, but now a small appointed committee is telling everyone they are “wrong.”


  22. Sam Bloom says:

    I find it so heartening to see all the posts about folks holding Mock Caldecotts and discussing picture book illustration on a deeper level with colleagues, children and other library patrons. Kudos, folks – these discussions are enriching and invigorating, and I’m proud to be part of such a thoughtful and hard-working community of book lovers!

    Sam J., I greatly admire your enthusiasm and passion for picture books. And I too am disappointed by the books that “should have been contenders,” to pilfer from Brando. (Plus, A Splash of Red won at least three other awards/honors and Nino won at least one other that I can think of.) But be careful when you label people as “holier than thou” when you haven’t met them in person or worked closely with them! I happen to know a handful of this year’s Caldecott committee, and I can say without reservation that these folks took their charge EXTREMELY seriously this year. Remember that they started their deliberations at 8:00 am on Friday (after an entire year of intensive and very, very close reading) and met until who knows when on Saturday… with breaks for meals and sleeping and pretty much nothing else. And yet I spoke with at least one member of the committee who, during a BREAK (when I personally would have been curled up in the fetal position in a corner somewhere) was in the exhibits looking for strong books to share with his/her students back home. When I spoke with this person he/she made it a point to ask for recommendations, most likely to help him/her with the EXTREMELY difficult and stressful decision ahead. (Again, let me just say that when my Newbery committee had breaks I basically sat blubbering in an anti-social heap of plasma in the corner.)

    Anyway, my point is that these folks worked their picture book-loving tails off this year, and looking at their picks I think the same thing I think every year: the process works. It isn’t perfect, and it won’t please everyone, but I’m glad it is the way it is. Keep touting those favorite books of yours, Sam, so others can see them for how brilliant they are. But please, let’s not taint the discussion by smack-talking the committee members. They may very well be reading this and we don’t want feelings hurt – they are but mild-mannered librarians/teachers/book lovers like me and you, after all! =)

  23. Sam (B), I will admit my wording and general perception by referring to the members as “holier than thou” was in bad taste. If any members are reading, I extend my apologies.

    I don’t say the process doesn’t work. I say the long range implications are not as definitive nor as authoritative as the these conclusions would have you believe. Leaving off MR. TIGER GOES WILD, when there were at least two more open spots -if we look back to what the committee did the previous year- is in my view a grievous oversight. This is the kind of thing that always makes me conclude that taste is an overriding consideration. I don’t dispute the qualifications of these people, much as I don’t dispute your own superlative background. I never knew you were on a previous Newbery committee and I greatly applaud you for that.

    At the end of the day I do realize that no awards are infallible. Regardless of how I am spouting off this morning in frustration the truth is I am smitten with them anyway. Ha! I make reference to them in all my children books writings, and in my classes to a fault. Some long time friends have had more than their share of Caldecott and Newbery discourse from me over the years. Perhaps it is in the spirit of reverence that I react strongly when I feel there was an injustice in the voting whether deliberately applied or only as a matter of alternate preference.

    God willing I will be pounding the pavement for the awards again next year.

    I’m sure the members are lovely people.

    Thanks for the fair and sensible response to me here my friend.

  24. Martha V. Parravano Martha V. Parravano says:

    I also want to bring people’s attention to what Bob Staake of BLUEBIRD fame just posted on Facebook:

    “Congratulations to Brian Floca for winning the Caldecott with ‘Locomotive’! 2013 was an exceptionally strong year in KidLit with an amazing bounty of incredible picture books — sooooo many worthy titles. At the end of the day, it’s our CHILDREN who were the real winners — as they were able to read SO many amazing, uplifting and inspiring stories.”

    So gracious and so true.

  25. Amen to that. A beautiful statement from him.

  26. Am a little heartbroken over what I consider to be a baffling MR TIGER omission, as many others have stated here. Baffled. I’d give just about anything to know what the committee was thinking. And also in agreement with others, why only three honors? Am absolutely thrilled for LOCOMOTIVE, but just can’t understand why the tiger was snubbed.

  27. Dean Schneider says:

    Bob Staake’s comment is a great way to see all of this. It is, indeed, the children who benefit from this excellent year of picture books. I’ve been at this long enough to trust the committee process. I had my own favorites, several of which didn’t win awards, but I feel rewarded nevertheless by having these books in my life and having so many children in my life to share them with. Congratulations to Robin, Martha, and Lolly for such a good, accurate, and eloquent presentation of the range of excellent picture books from 2013. I’ve already seen some great picture books coming out in 2014. Here’s to another new year of excellent books for our children (and us)!

  28. I am taking a second and a third look at Locomotive. It is a very beautiful book to be sure, but my students had a hard time paying attention all the way through. I am wondering how other students enjoyed the book.

  29. Joanne, I must say I fully concur with you. But mind you I have first-graders, who are always suspect for the longer read. I agree that LOCOMOTIVE is an exceedingly beautiful book and one of the best of the year by any barometer of measurement, but I would think the third grade is ideal for full appreciation of it. Of course, it is longer than most picture books by some distance.

  30. OK, I think I need to weigh in here at long last. I’ve been following all of your posts all year without commenting, but with great enjoyment, because, as a member of the Extremely Handsome, Lovely, Intelligent, and Talented 2014 Caldecott Committee, I couldn’t show my hand.

    First off, we read all of the books you did–and many, many more that you didn’t mention. Hundreds. Every style and genre. We read them aloud to kids and adults; ran mock Caldecott elections with kids and adults; showed them to friends, family, and other artists; and read them and examined them over and over. We were immersed in art all year. It was exhilarating and exhausting. We looked at case covers, dust jackets, gate folds, gutters, flaps, and every medium imaginable. That was before we got to Midwinter. We took extensive notes on each book, read reviews and blogs, and compared them with our own opinions. We went to museums and art galleries, read books about children’s book illustration, reflected on past Caldecotts, and thought deeply about our own tastes and preferences. We tried to evaluate books with an open mind. Are we artists? No. Do artist get ticked off that a committee of librarians and children’s literature fanatics pick a book for its art? Oh, yeah. And yet, we persevered.

    Let me just review the process for you, especially Sam Juliano who seems to think we stiffed Tiger Goes Wild intentionally and for all of the folks who can’t figure out why we didn’t give 5 honors like they did last year. (That was a surprise last year, actually–usually, 4 honors causes gasps from folks, and 5 is a mighty big number for any awards committee.) Personally, I love it when a committee is able to give lots of honors–it means more books for kids to love. But that’s not how it works when you are voting for an award. And I do think Tiger Goes Wild is a beautiful book. We did not snub it or any other book in any way.

    I had TWELVE favorite books this year–all exceptional and astonishing in my eyes. An embarrassment of picture book riches. I’ve been evaluating/speaking about/writing about children’s books for 30+ years now and I cannot think of a single year when I’ve had this many picture books with which I was so utterly besotted. Can 12 books win the Caldecott? No. Am I stamping my feet in anger over the ones that didn’t make it? No. Did I get all of my choices? I don’t think anyone ever gets all of their choices on a committee like this. But I admire and respect all of our choices and feel each book is distinguished. Did everyone adore the same books I did? Get real. There were 15 people on our committee. We all had our beloved favorites and we all wanted with all our hearts to see them take home the gold, but only one book gets to do that.

    I get goosebumps every time I open Locomotive, and getting to discuss it at length and in detail with the rest of the 15-member Caldecott Committee was an honor I won’t soon forget. Brian Floca was a bit speechless when we called him Monday morning, and I was teary just hearing his voice on the speakerphone of the little room of the ALA Press Office where all of us were crammed in, listening intently. Indeed, we felt pretty “punch drunk,” too. We had been locked in our conference room at the Marriott since Friday at 8 a.m., and finished our deliberations late Saturday night, with time out for meals and sleep. Not to worry–there was an ample amount of chocolate on hand for us to stay awake and alert (not to mention birthday cake).

    After discussing/analyzing/reevaluating/critiquing the art of the scores of picture books we had nominated, it was finally time to vote. Well before the ALA Midwinter meeting, each committee member gets to nominate his or her 7 top books of all the many hundreds we read. This could mean we had 105 titles on our final discussion list, but since some books are bound to get more than one nomination, the actual number will be less. At our meeting, we had all of those books on hand, and spent many, many hours presenting the strengths and concerns of each book. When we were all finished going over each one, we filled in our ballots with our top 3 books. First place is worth 4 points, second place is worth 3 points, and third place is worth 2 points.

    “Why only three honors? What’s the matter with that committee? Why didn’t they just pick more books?” I’ve read in people’s many comments online. Here’s the deal. For a book to win the gold medal, it must have a total of 8 first place votes, plus score 8 points above any other book. If you don’t have this point spread on the first ballot, you go back to rediscuss the books, removing from consideration the ones that got no votes, and vote again. Mind you, I had WAY more than 3 favorite books, and I think it safe to assume the same went for the rest of the committee. When one book finally rises to the top, like cream, then you have to decide which books are going to be named Honor Books. The committee decides how many books to name, based on the support and points received for each of the remaining books. If a book doesn’t get enough votes–if it scores too far below the other books, well, then, it’s not going to win. That’s life, folks.

    I would have loved to have given Honor Medals to many more books, but it has to have the support and votes of the committee. That means many wonderful and worthy books are not going to win–the ones that gather the most support, consensus, and votes by committee members are the ones that will get those shiny silver medals.

    “Why didn’t THIS book win?” people will cry about their favorites. Rest assured, some of us on the committee probably loved that book, too, and were just as sad it didn’t make the cut. I, for one, remain madly enamored of my stack of picture books that didn’t win but which I have been thrilled to present/read aloud/use with kids, teachers, librarians, and parents this year at all my school assemblies, speeches at conferences, and children’s book seminars (including those for and at my upcoming 30th Annual Winners! Workshop across NJ in spring). That doesn’t mean the books that didn’t win aren’t fabulous or that a whole different stack of books wouldn’t have been named with a different committee at the helm. But these are the books that stood out, after all of our discussion, with Locomotive rising higher than any of them, and I say Hooray!

    On any Awards committee, it’s a group consensus and decision, and you never get all of your choices, but, if you’re lucky, you do get some of them. The others, from listening to the discussion and re-re-re-re-re-reading/evaluating/reconsidering, you do most definitely come to appreciate for their distinguished qualities. I’m so proud of our Caldecott Committee and the work we did and of the 4 books we chose. What we ended with, along with Locomotive, were three extraordinary titles.

    Looking at our Honor winners, I am struck by how distinct and distinguished each one is: Mr. Wuffles by the great David Wiesner, about a cat, some aliens, and some savvy insects (and, no, we were not allowed to discuss or mentioned any of his or anyone else’s’ other medal-winners; we only compared and contrasted books published in 2013–that’s the rules); Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle, a wordless story with pull-down flaps depicting the pas de deux ballet between a girl and a bird that makes you want to get up and dance; and Journey, a first book for Aaron Becker with luminous watercolors depicting a girl’s adventure thanks to a magical red crayon. Great stuff, this. I hope you have a ball sharing these titles with your children. There is no rule saying you have to love every book on any list. Pick and choose the ones that sing to you, but keep an open mind. Your kids may love (or not love) any of these books, too, and they may or may not agree with your opinion.

    I think Locomotive is a real groundbreaker–there’s never been a Caldecott like it. There have been nonfiction books that won, but almost of them are biographical. Open it up and start turning pages, and I’m betting you will gasp in astonishment at the double-page illustrations of that glorious train and wish you could take that trip (the sparse bathroom facilities notwithstanding). If your third graders find the text too long, read it in installments. Sing train songs. Do train chants. Read and compare other train books. (Elisha Cooper’s fabulous Train and Jason Carter Eaton’s How to Train a Train are the ones I’ve been using with it all year. Too fun!) Look at footage of old trains online. Take a class train trip. Look up all the fascinating natural wonders cited in the text and illustrations. Celebrate a book that extends the children’s horizons and lets them travel vicariously across the U.S. in 1869.

    I’ve been on Newbery (2000, Bud, Not Buddy) and Sibert (2008, The Wall) and those were fabulous experiences. And now the Caldecott, where we’ve selected books that we hope will give children and adults great joy for many years to come. I can’t wait to give copies to all the little kids (and big kids) in my own family. Whew. What a memorable week!

    Judy Freeman
    Facebook: Judy Freeman’s Workshops, LLC

  31. Martha V. Parravano Martha V. Parravano says:

    Judy, I can’t thank you enough for this illuminating (and measured!) response. Such a validation of the process! Thank you so, so much.

  32. Roberta Rivera says:

    Thank you, Judy for sharing this information. Thank you! 🙂

  33. Judy, you come off here as a lovely, passionate, perky and altogether wonderful person. And you certainly did take your assignment here with comprehensive fervor. I applaud you for that many times over.

    As my name was brought up in your post I would like to address the implications. I never said on any posts at the Horn Book that the Caldecott committee “intentionally” stiffed MR. TIGER GOES WILD. No such contention was made at any point in the many posts I have contributed to these discussions. I said and I quote “The absence of MR. TIGER GOES WILD on the final list is UNACCEPTABLE.” I stand by that position. It is clear enough that the committee did not set out deliberately to undermine the book’s prospects remotely and it is equally clear the book did (as you have subsequently confirmed) have some passionate supporters on that Caldecott committee. As I have stated on these boards repeatedly (and Roger Sutton is right on that point) there can never be a definitive judgement on art. The committee worked their tails off and took on their responsibilities with rampant enthusiasm and rapt attention, but that can never nor will never yield a result that can ever be looked on as definitive. Still, the ALA system is as best as we have–better than all the other awards groups in fact. In my heart and in my own artistic perceptions MR. TIGER GOES WILD is as strong and as good as wonderful as any of the other four books that your group awarded – it is profoundly one of the very best picture books of the year, a sentiment shared by dozens and dozens of children’s book critics across America, I feel pretty much the same about THE MATCHBOX DIARY and NINO WRESTLES THE WORLD to mention just two of the outstanding books that ultimately failed to make the final cut.

    I spent two months of my life celebrating the importance and the excitement of your award process. I remain deeply saddened that my lament and call for more Honor books resulted in an escalating controversy.

    I happen to LOVE the four books your group chose for recognition. I LOVE each and every one, and wrote comprehensive and adoring appraisals in my series. LOCOMOTIVE was an inspired choice; JOURNEY is an immediate picture book masterpiece and both MR. WUFFLES and FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO are without questions two of the most magnificent picture books of 2013. There is NO argument with those choices–the lot is diverse, kid-friendly, and exquisite, and a reason for celebration among art lovers.

    My complaint (or my lament) was never intended to criticize the process. I collect every single medal winner dating back to the 1937 awards and recently picked up a rare HC item that I had long been searching for – PIERRE PIDGEON by Lee Kingman, with the magnificent illustrations by Arnold Edwin Bare. I have praised the ALA awards for years, and I make it a point each and every year to read every one of the books that make the Newbery lineup. My complaint was simply in the spirit of what was intended to be constructive disagreement. One person after another came here in defense of the ALA’s choices. Until the discussion eventually got heated I thought I was voicing my disappointment (s) with all due respect and in perspective.

    I remain very impressed with the choices that were made, and still believe that the awarding of more honor books is philosophically for me a win-win situation for children’s books.

    Again, I very appreciated your lovely recap and willingness to share it with everyone at Horn Book. Best wishes.

  34. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful and thought-provoking response.
    I know you have a few things going on right now (sleep being one of them!) and I appreciate that you took time to open our minds.
    As a former member of a few committees myself, I know how fu/tortuous it is to watch people before and after the meetings make predictions and guess why things turned out the way they did.
    I try to explain the process, but, it’s hard to “get” unless you run Mock Caldecotts with serious voting. It helps to have a group of fifteen to see how that goes.

    Again, thanks so very much,

  35. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    PS We should have given you a guest post of your own! 🙂

  36. Guess I better read Mr. Tiger! Also anxious to read Locomotive especially after reading Debbie Reese’s response/analysis after the book received the medal. Thanks to the Horn Book for always making sure we are aware of the books kids are reading and enjoying, and that we KidsBooksAdults are reading and enjoying and discussing and analyzing and sharing….

  37. I meant that “kids WILL be reading”

  38. Thank you, Judy, for this articulate and passionate report. I bet you had a great time, and I bet you’re a lot of fun on a committee.

  39. Kate Barsotti says:

    Thank you, Judy! While it is disappointing when deserving books are not awarded, I now have a better appreciation for the work of the committee. I love the art form of picture books and I am grateful other grown-ups (shhh! don’t tell) love them, too.

  40. Go, Judy! Your post needs to go viral.

  41. Mike Jung says:

    I think we can all rest assured that the Caldecott committee carried out their charge with tremendous clarity of purpose, commitment to excellence, attention to nuance, and respect for both the award process and the book creators whose work was under consideration. As I’m sure all of the award committees did. Creating children’s books is a thoroughly human endeavor, with all the complexities and frailties that accompany humanity, and it’s clear that the process of choosing the ALAYMA winners is an equally human endeavor. Bravo to Judy and all of the committee members for successfully carrying out a task which will inevitably fail to please every children’s book lover in the world, and is possibly made more admirable by that inevitability.

  42. I also want to thank Judy for sharing so much, so frankly.

  43. My takeaway from all this is that the Superbowl’s got nothing on us for being passionate about something, in this case beautiful, funny, poignant, unique picture books.

    Just got my copy of Locomotive and savored every page. Loaned my mom Mr. Wuffles, reread Journey and caught something I hadn’t the first time… and there are many more, of course, some books still on my Amazon and library wish lists. Plus those I read standing in a bookstore (a fine tradition).

    Happy sigh.

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