Time for a reality check, everybody! Robin, Lolly, and I have been immersed in our mock Caldecott world, but in fact there is an actual 2014 Caldecott committee out there ;), feverishly preparing for their closed-door marathon sessions at ALA Midwinter in Philadelphia, which begins on January 24. Travis Jonker – Michigan elementary-school librarian; author of the 100 Scope Notes blog, hosted on the SLJ website; and current committee member – was kind enough to give us this report from the field (complete with helpful accompanying art. What could be more appropriate?).
CC: Travis, you and the other members of the 2014 Caldecott committee have about three weeks left before you convene. Can you give us an idea of where the committee is in the process?
TJ: It’s home-stretch time. Each member of the committee has submitted their nominations, creating the pool of books we will be discussing in-depth when we meet at ALA Midwinter. It’s a busy time, but exciting as well.
CC: What will you be doing for the next three weeks to prepare?
TJ: I’ll be in my Caldecott cave (i.e., basement), steadily adding to the pile of empty dishes on my desk as I reread (and reread) and compile notes on all the nominated titles. I’ll also have the Caldecott criteria close at hand, making sure all of my notes are focused and concise for final discussions at Midwinter.
CC: What’s the most helpful step you’ve taken to try to sort through the scads of terrific picture books we are seeing this year?
TJ: By far the most helpful step has been reading to kids. As a school librarian, I’m lucky in that I get to have read-aloud time every day. When you read a book twenty-seven times in a week, you pick up on things that might have been missed after just a handful of readings.
CC: How many picture books do you have in your house at this point?
TJ: Over 600. I took things back to the dorm room with my temporary Caldecott shelf — plywood boards and cinder blocks. Unfortunately, I didn’t go big enough. Future committee members: make your shelves about 50% bigger than this.