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What do you think about the Caldecott winners?

We will respond to the awards in more detail later, but for now here’s a short post so you can tell us what you think about the Real Committee’s choices. In case you don’t know, here they are:

2016CaldcottWinners

2016 Caldecott Medal winner: Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear illustrated by Sophie Blackall, written by Lindsay Mattick

2016 Caldecott honor books:

  • Trombone Shorty illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Troy Andrews
  • Waiting by Kevin Henkes
  • Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement illustrated by Ekua Holmes, written by Carole Boston Weatherford
  • Last Stop on Market Street illustrated by Christian Robinson, written by Matt de la Peña

Here’s a link to the press release announcing ALL of this morning’s awards: http://ala.unikron.com/2016/YMA2016%20WRAP%20RELEASE%20-%20FINAL.pdf

And here are The Horn Book’s reviews of all the Caldecott winners.

Now, have at it!

Lolly Robinson About Lolly Robinson

Lolly Robinson is the creative director for The Horn Book, Inc. She has degrees in studio art and children's literature and teaches children's literature at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. She has served on the Caldecott and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committees and blogs for Calling Caldecott and Lolly's Classroom on this site.

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  1. Safranit Molly says:

    I am happy for all of these books! I appreciate the diversity reflected in the selections. I am glad to know that all of these fine books will become part of library collections across the country. There were many books that I loved this year that did not get recognized by the committee (Float, Out of the Woods, The Whisper), but I am delighted that my very favorite, Finding Winnie, won the medal. Hooray! And I am also pleased as punch that for the second year in a row the students in my Caldecott Club picked the winner! Happy, happy day!

  2. I’m still trying to process my feelings lol. Not excited that Finding Winnie got the medal but I do know that many people love it, so that’s cool. SO excited to see Trombone Shorty recognized because it is gorgeous. But my heart is very sad that Float didn’t get at least an honor.

  3. Positively thrilled that FINDING WINNIE won the gold for all sorts of reasons. Sophie Goodall is one of the classiest human beings anyone would ever want to meet and her two performances in 2015 were nothing short of stupendous. FINDING WINNIE has classic all over it when released, and today is surely celebration time in children’s literature.

    I concur with Alia above that FLOAT’s unexpected absence is lamentable, and I mourn other books like TWO MICE, BOATS FOR PAPA, IT’S ONLY STANLEY, ADDY’S HOUSE, THE SKUNK, SPECIAL DELIVERY, YARD SALE, and JON ROY LYNCH among others for now ending up in the winner’s circle.

    TROMBONE SHORTY is a wonderful book. Gorgeous for sure as I just noticed again when I read it to a class after the announcement. But who figured? I didn’t. Neither did anyone save for two people on these threads. I certainly preferred it by a long distance over the Ed Young book that was on the ballot here, but that just comes down to personal opinion.

    LAST STOP AT MARKET STREET made the top of Mt. Everest today with the dual Newbery gold and Caldecott silver. An incredible performance managed only one previously and a tour de force. Though Lolly has VOICE OF FREEDOM on her shortlist, its win had to be considered a mild surprise. Not as surprising as Mr. Collier’s book, but still. And yet it is a stunningly beautiful book.

    And then WAITING, which will surely be adored for generations to come. A revelation.

    We all have favorites that didn’t make it, but I don’t think anyone can quibble with any of these treasures. And I was very happy to see FOUR (4) Honor books.

  4. God, I called her Sophie Goodall. I lost it ages ago!

    SOPHIE BLACKALL.

    What an embarrassment.

  5. Caldecott Committee nailed it this year. A bit sad that Boats for Papa didn’t get any love, but I have absolutely zero complaints about these selections – especially Last Stop Market St. & Finding Winnie. Truly phenomenal choices!

  6. Bill Wright says:

    Loved watching the webcast this morning with my class…loads of cheering whenever any of the books we looked at came up on any of the awards. Julia (whose favorite was Finding Winnie but couldn’t get any traction with the rest of the class for it as a first choice) had a particularly happy and smug look when the Caldecott medal winner was announced! We had looked at Last Stop on Market Street, but it got no nominations to be considered in our discussions! Guess we should go back and check it out again!

  7. The committees often make weird choices that leave librarians scratching their heads. Love that Blackall won but think it should’ve been for Dessert which, imo, was the better book. I would’ve liked to see In a Village by the Sea get an honor. Thrilled that Waiting was recognized. Looking at the choices it feels like they decided to promote diversity over quality.

  8. I was surprised, as I am every year by the award winners. I am happy about the choices. I think all the art in each book is amazing, and I admire every one of the illustrators. I am so thrilled that Trombone Shorty, and Brian Collier won an honor. His illustrations are wonderful and Trombone Shorty (the person, Mr. Andrews) is a complete inspiration. My students’ faces (and hearts!) just lit up when I read this book in classrooms and we talked about his life. I think Finding Winnie is a lovely book, but I think it is more of an emotional win. My 2nd and 3rd grade classes all voted for this for Caldecott medal. Ms. Blackall’s art on every book I’ve seen is amazing. But I did not feel this was particularly exceptional compared to others she’s done, and while the art is perfect for this book, it is not any better than other books published this year. I thought there were other books that were. Waiting, for example – astonishing. I did think (and hope!) it might win the medal. Last Stop on Market Street has been a favorite book of the year since i first saw it earlier in the year. Once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down and it left the store with me. I have read it many times, to my own children and my students at school. They loved it. I did see a couple of issues that were pointed out by the review here on Calling Caldecott. They seemed rather glaring. I don’t understand why the committee was OK with them, or why those would or wouldn’t be issues in choosing illustration honors or medals. But likely I don’t know the rules and the process well enough.
    I am more puzzled by the choices of books that I don’t think are for children. This is often my greatest challenge. I think Voices of Freedom is extraordinary, Fannie Lou Hamer is an American heroine and we should all know much more about her. The illustrations in this book are gorgeous. But this book is not for children, in my opinion. I couldn’t share it with my students – way too long, and way to sophisticated. I hope to use it in our middle school and 5th grade during Black History Month and Women’s History month. Just because something looks like a picture book for children doesn’t make it one. I can’t resolve this and wonder if anyone knows what the Caldecott rules about what exactly qualifies as a picture book for children that can be considered, I’d appreciate it.
    Oh and is anyone going to comment on how amazing it is that Last Stop on Market Street won the NEWBERY???!!!

  9. In my opinion, judges are going a little too far showcase diversity. How likely is it that, out of everything released in 2015, 3 of the 5 winners happen to have non-white protagonists? I just picture a bunch of smug white librarians patting themselves on the back for these picks. At least if you’re going for diversity, try not to be condescending and have all those books be about civil rights, racial struggles, poverty, etc. It’s just so transparent.

    There were many, many better picture books released this year. Look at the NYT list for starters.

  10. Overall very happy with all of the choices yesterday (though of course there are a few other books I would have loved to see honored too) and grateful to the committees for all of their hard work. And, *thrilled* to see greater diversity again this year in the books and creators recognized. Though, comments like “they decided to promote diversity over quality” or the implication that the gorgeous Voice of Freedom could only be used with children during Black or Women’s History months show we all still have a long way to go. (And regarding the age range for the Caldecott Award, see Hugo Cabret.)

  11. No Sarah, the comment that “they honored diversity over quality” (by CJ above) is a valid “opinion” not a confirmation as you believe that “we have a long way to go.” i have heard from a number of others that they thought the same. I love all the winners, but I could see why some would lament the absence of some of the most beautiful picture books we’ve had in years. Books like BOATS FOR PAPA, FLOAT, TWO MICE and IT’S ONLY STANLEY did not win, and they are absolutely as beautiful as anything we’ve seen this year. While I applaud the results I also know exactly why people are saying diversity was paramount this year. Absolutely.

  12. IN A VILLAGE BY THE SEA was a stunningly beautiful book too. Few matched in 2015 for its exquisite art.

  13. ReNae Bowling says:

    I agree that diversity trumped quality this year. I’m disappointed and frankly dismayed. I’m now less inclined to tell students that an award is given for quality. I plan to develop some lessons comparing and contrasting the winners vs the contenders. Newbery may have jumped the shark.

  14. The idea that if an honored book is not by/about white people, and one does not oneself see its merits, then the committee members who spent all year reading and discussing books must have chosen “diversity over quality” is offensive, yes.

    What are the chances that 18 out of the last 20 Caldecott winners would be white?

    Yes, the fact that rather than celebrating the winners, people are *complaining about their diversity* is a sign that there is still a lot of work to be done.

  15. As is the idea that “diversity” and quality are somehow in opposition.

  16. What we need to do is accept people’s views and tastes and not always think they need to be ethnically reformed when in fact they are all probably huge supporters of the great books that come out annually by minorities. Because THIS year they may have thought some other books (by whites) should have landed in the winner’s circle does not indicate some kind of thwarted development in understand equality.

  17. Won’t continue the discussion (which isn’t nearly as important as joy and celebration for the books honored this year.) Will just say: has anyone making that argument ever argued similarly that a committee only honored a book because the author/illustrator was white?

  18. All,

    Please don’t marginalize any book to a specific month! I know the designated months can make them a default time to teach children about this or that population, but for goodness sake… using VOICE OF FREEDOM only in February is a disservice to all children.

    Indeed, given the almost-daily protests we’ve seen in the last couple of years, over the mistreatment of African Americans, it should be read and recommended and promoted all year long!

    As for “diversity trumped quality” — we could find a lot of ways to characterize the winners of the past years and sometimes we do just that, about winners, or about books overall. I don’t know if this year marks the sea change from “the all white world of children’s books” or not, but it definitely is wonderful to see these books winning this year.

  19. Likewise I am done with this discussion and have heard these similar arguments by you on other threads at other sites. And yes this is absolutely CELEBRATION TIME.

    As to your (final) question you again are misrepresenting what was said. I can’t answer for others but if all the winners were whites in a given year and some stupendous works by African Americans (I was livid many times Jerry Pinkey did not win the gold, was shocked that MARTIN’S BIG WORDS did not win the gold over what I thought was the weakest of David Weisner’s three Medal wins) and have though Kadir Nelson and Christian Robinson should have had previous wins) I continue to lament that Raul Colon has not yet ended up a winner, and many other scene specific situations that I won’t list here for length reasons) I’d complain.

    Personally, though I will always mourn for the books that I thought were worthy this year, I agree the actual choices were excellent.

    But I see what others are saying. There sentiments are NOT misplaced.

  20. “Their” not “there.” One misplaced parenthesis.

    If you respond Sarah, I will read and say nothing. My commentary has appeared way too often on this thread and I will not risk overstaying my welcome with good friends, if I haven’t already. 🙂

  21. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    What do I think of the winners? The same thing I think every year: wow. How does the committee narrow their excellent choices down to one winner and a handful of honor books?
    I love the choices and was especially happy that my local bookstore (Yay, Parnassus in Nashville!!) had them because some of my copies had disappeared over the past few months. I always mourn the missing, but have come to understand this feeling, the feeling that others do not always appreciate the same things I appreciate. Also, I have sat in that little room and know how those smart people notice things that I did not notice, especially when reading the books over and over and over. A book DOES change when you read it over and over. (to little children, to older children, to adults, to yourself, from ten feet away from the listeners, etc)
    I love these choices. I love the choices of the other committees as well. I finally saw Tonutuih’s Funny Bones (Sibert Winner) yesterday. Wow. The descriptions of printing techniques alone make it worth seeing.
    It’s fun rereading all the winners!

  22. Debbie:

    I see your comment posted as I was composing my own. Because 3 of this year’s Caldecott winners are African-American out of the five, when the ratio of picture books are like 90% to 10% white over color annually, some people will use that term “diversity” to define the results. I understand what they are saying and why they are saying it in those terms, but I never thought the statements disingenuous, instead more of a lamentation that they thought some serious quality was set aside.

    I do not myself look at the race of the illustrator, but the QUALITY of the book. Because the overwhelming majority of illustrators are white, it seems inevitable the ratio of winners will normally reflect that. It has much more to do with what is out there than stating ethnic preferences within that bubble. The sea change you speak of will come about when the publishing numbers get closer. As I stated about there were any instances where I was angry that illustrators of color did not win in given years, but when white people did for superlative efforts I was equally chagrined. Rather than some saying that the committee went fro diversity over quality, they may well have said it the way I would views it, that some books that won weren’t as deserving as some that didn’t. The matter of color should always be insignificant. We are picking the best books for our classroom and for posterity, nothing more.

  23. Nina Lindsay says:

    Sam, there are always books of “serious quality” that don’t win an award. What is the point of opining that the committee did so deliberately in favor of “diversity”? The point can only be to discredit the books that did win based on the diversity reflected in them, and the illustrators themselves. That is what is offensive.

  24. Nina, I did not myself make that contention as you know, I was just voicing a view of what was being said. i don’t see their statements as trying to “discredit” the books that won, but rather to assert that better books lost. If that were indeed what they meant they are well within their rights. It was said the wrong way I agree with you there.

    i am very happy with the choices that won., though like many others I mourn for IT’S ONLY STANLEY, BOATS FOR PAPA and others.

    I consider VOICE OF FREEDOM a stunning book and I said so myself here. 🙂

    https://wondersinthedark.wordpress.com/2015/12/29/caldecott-medal-contender-voice-of-freedom/

    I think why some people were caught off guard by TROMBONE SHORTY’s triumph had more to do with Bryan Collier’s having already won three honors before. But we have another Jerry Pinkney in the making here. The book itself is magnificent.

  25. Nina Lindsay says:

    I hear you Sam. I’m hoping that you and others will reflect on this though. The argument that “better books lost” … For what reason? There’s always a difference of opinion about the best books of the year. So why the “diversity” attack?

  26. Nina, to be sure you, Debbie and Sarah, for whatever differences we’ve had in the past (mainly over our newly-minted Caldecott Medal winner’s “other” book this year) are ABSOLUTELY correct to reject the “diversity” argument. It is unfair to the illustrators of those beautiful books, and it implies there was an agenda, when I am completely certain there was not.

    As I said if someone wants to say that better books lost that is fine. We see it all the time. Last year at these venerated halls we saw it being implied with impunity, and the year before that I registered similar complaints. But no, this was not the proper way for anyone to assess the results of the awards. Similarly, in years where every award is given to a white, there can’t be a lamentation that those awards willfully ignored the achievements of the minorities.

    We have to respect the committee. They are chosen to do a job and they do it extraordinarily well. So we not far apart at all my friend.

  27. Martha V. Parravano Martha V. Parravano says:

    Sam, there is no need for you to try to represent other commenters or defend/interpret their comments. Please speak for yourself. Better yet, move this thread over to your own blog, the address of which we all now have.

  28. Lolly Robinson Lolly Robinson says:

    It’s hard to keep up with all these comments. As I often find during online book discussions with my students, comments that seem off base are often addressed by other students without my having to intervene (until class time, of course).

    In this case, the comments about the committee choosing “diversity over quality” are what most concern me. I suspect this comment could never come from someone who has been on an ALA book award committee. The atmosphere in the judging is room is completely book-centric. It is ALL about the book, and if I remember correctly we didn’t even refer to the book creators by name that much. It’s detail, detail, detail; then pull back for a broader view or a read aloud; then more detail. Those of us in my year who were not up on Caldecott trivia were surprised afterwards to find out which honorees had never won before and which ones had. You develop a kind of tunnel vision that — in my opinion — serves the award well. But always ALWAYS you can count on comments afterwards that make assumptions.

    Because of the secrecy about what goes on in the room, we will never know. I think that speculations about what the committee was thinking are counterproductive. Now is the time to consider their choices and take a closer look at any choices that surprised us. AND we should go on blowing the horn for all the other great books published this year.

  29. Martha V. Parravano Martha V. Parravano says:

    I would also like to point out that the available pool of American picture books of quality published in 2015 (including the ones that rose to the top at Calling Caldecott) practically guaranteed that there would be significant diverse representation in the actual Caldecott choices.

    Look at how many of the books we discussed and celebrated on Calling Caldecott were by authors and illustrators of color: Christian Robinson, Jessixa Bagley, Ekua Holmes, Christopher Myers, Jason Chin, Carole Boston Weatherford, Kadir Nelson, April Chu, Rafael Lopez, Duncan Tonatiuh, Matt de la Pena, Ed Young, Jerry PInkney — and I’ve probably missed some people.

    Look at all the nonwhite faces: in MY BIKE; WAIT; WATER IS WATER; FLOAT; LEO; MY PEN; IN A VILLAGE BY THE SEA; LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET, FLOP TO THE TOP; etc. These books weren’t culturally specific. They were just matter-of-factly inclusive.

    Look at the books we all admired with specific diverse content: DROWNED CITY, DRUM DREAM GIRL; VOICE OF FREEDOM; etc. (And despite our attempts to discuss as many books as possible, unfortunately we didn’t even get to TROMBONE SHORTY…)

    So surely there were MANY more diverse picture books on the Caldecott table this year, making the “diversity over quality” argument difficult to defend.

  30. Martha, I am deeply saddened and disappointed that you felt a need to go at me hard like that.

    I have known for a time that I am not a favorite of yours for various reasons, (I won’t discuss them here) but I came to Horn Book to show support and to engage in meaningful discussions as it relates to children’s books.

    Martha, in what manner did I “misrepresent” or “speak for other people?” In what way? Did you even bother to read my last comment before you fired off that uncalled for shocking missive at me?

    I HAVE been speaking for myself on this entire thread. How I have I been speaking for others? And just when I thought I had come to a common understanding with Nina, Sarah and Debbie as to the matter of diversity over quality which like YOU and Lolly I reject, you still attempt to contend that I am not speaking for myself (whatever that is supposed to mean). You seem to be reading what you WANT to read into it, because I rub you wrong in the first place. Otherwise you wouldn’t embarrass me in public the way you just did.

    Yes there were people last year at the Horn Book who were disappointed that some books did not make it (you were one of them, and you stated the case the day afterward) but I mean so what? The year before I was engaged in the MR. TIGER fiasco, and other years I was disappointed some of my favorites didn’t make it.

    If you would rather I stay clear of THE HORN BOOK just say so here or through someone else. I think highly of Roger Sutton as I do of all the authors and illustrators I will continue to promote in my classes and outside of it, and will always as I have this year praise the committees, all of whom have done remarkable work, yielding terrific choices.

    I read the two previous comments here by you and Lolly on the matter of diversity and I agree with them 100%.

    As to the quip about my site, yeah I did link to a review that coincided with the general discussion, but it there on the map either way, so no sweat.

    Ya know, Martha, a sense of humor works wonders in discussion like these. I am 61 years old, and find picture books a fun hobby. That’s all. Nothing more.

  31. Ah, I see what happened. Martha ‘s last comment of reprimand for me posted at exactly the same time as my complete agreement statement to Nina.

    That’s really is lamentable.

  32. My comment re: “diversity over quality” simply means that, Imo, they didn’t actually pick the most distinguished book. They didn’t even pick the most distinguished ‘diverse’ book. I have no problem with books that show diversity. If you look at the list of Caldecott/Newbery winners from the beginning to now it’s actually a pretty diverse list of books (excepting maybe the first several years).

  33. Hannah Farmer says:

    Hi, I’m usually a lurker here, but I would just like to gush over Last Stop on Market Street. I grabbed the book to re-read after it won the Mock Caldecott on this blog, and began to understand why it won. But then, of course, when it won a Caldecott Honor and the Newbery Medal, I re-read it again for the text. So after doing some close readings, I’d like to point out a couple of things that may have been covered in other discussions, but I couldn’t really find much discussion on here despite it winning the mock Caldecott here.

    Irregularly-occurring rhymes in the text precede important events in the story.
    Pg 10: “The man across the way was tuning a guitar.
    An old woman with curlers had butterflies in a jar.”
    This quote directly precedes Nana teaching CJ to say good afternoon to everyone.

    Pg 16: “The guitar player was already
    plucking strings
    and beginning to sing.” Then the blind man suggests they all close their eyes to feel the magic.

    Pgs 17-18: “Saw a family of hawks slicing through the sky.
    Saw the old woman’s butterflies”
    This is the double page spread of vibrant blue, oranges and yellows, with CJ experiencing the song.

    Pg 19: “Everyone on the bus clapped,
    even the boys in the back.”
    Then comes the moment in which it takes only a glance from Nana to encourage CJ to drop his coin into the guitar player’s hat. The coin toss is the focal point of this illustration, with a black line outlining the coin here, denoting its significance.

    Pg 21: “Crumbling sidewalks and broken-down doors,
    graffiti-tagged windows and boarded-up stores.”
    This quote precedes CJ’s big question: “How come it’s always so dirty over here?” and Nana’s response, “Sometimes when you’re surrounded by dirt, CJ, you’re a better witness for what’s beautiful.”

    Pg 24: “at the bus rounding the corner out of sight
    and the broken streetlamps still lit up bright”
    This precedes the page where we see familiar faces–Sunglass Man, Bobo, and Trixie, mentioned early in the book–in the soup kitchen window and we realize the purpose of Nana and CJ’s trip.
    All of these rhymes build anticipation for something important, and the illustrations work with the text to portray the significance of these moments. I don’t see how you can argue that this isn’t distinguished for both awards!

    I had some other stuff, but I have to go back to work now and I’ve gone on long enough!

  34. That is a brilliant scene-specific analysis of this great masterpiece Hannah Brown (if I might say so), and I personally agree with every word you say. 🙂 I could read your fabulous insights a lot longer!

  35. Hannah Farmer I meant to say. A tough day.

  36. Erin Murphy says:

    My response: I was thrilled with the diversity in all forms. So much focus is on the cultural diversity of the list, but also, there are so many women honored this year, which is sadly unusual. There is a general sense that there are more female creators of books for children than male, and yet men are historically disproportionately honored. (That blows one of the comments about the ratio being out of whack out of the water, right?) I simply feel like the winners and honorees reflect the reality of the world we live in. And a picture book for the Newbery? Dynamite! Every year there are detractors and people who are disappointed, but I honor the hard work of the committees and I am thrilled to celebrate children’s books and all that they can be (and are) through the ALAYMA. In the end, the kids win, and that’s what matters.

  37. Erin Murphy says:

    Apologies–I was referring to all of the awards in general, not just the Caldecott. The comments still apply, though.

  38. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    The notion that three of five Caldecott mentions going to non-white illustrators means that the diversity fix was in reminds me of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s response to the question of how many female Supreme Court Justices will be enough. “Nine,” she said. Congratulations to all the honorees.

  39. I am thrilled, utterly thrilled, I’ll-buy-every-doughnut-in-this-doughnut-store thrilled, by the fact that the ALA Youth Media Awards in general (and the Caldecott committee in particular) produced a spectacularly inclusive list of winners for the second year in a row. So many phenomenal works of art; so many creators at the very top of their game; so much reason to believe that the committees made every effort to focus their attention on our entire industry, not just a select portion of it. I don’t know if the Caldecott committee made an explicit decision to consider diversity during their deliberations, but if they did, brava! Dismissal of inclusivity means, consciously or not, a narrowing of the field. Thankfully, the Caldecott committee didn’t do that. They chose not to hand out a set of cheapened, compromised honors; instead, they recognized that conferring markers of distinction upon a literary creation is far more meaningful when done within the context of our entire body of creative work. They realized that the seeds of greatness lie everywhere in our community, and they went looking for it everywhere, among everyone. Among ALL of us. Thanks to all of the committees for their hard work, and congratulations to all of the winners.

  40. I am so pleased these books (winners and honor books all) will be highlighted in the coming year in many ways. I made the mistake of starting these comments and given too many were violating the 1 item in the Comment Policy I decided to stop reading…but again, I am delighted with the choices. Sure, not everyone’s favorties win each year but I certainly cannot quibble with the great choices made by a committee that I am certain worked hard and whom I thank!

  41. WHAT ROBIN SAID. Trust the process, people. Trust the process.

  42. It’s always interesting and often troubling when diversity comes up in publishing discussions. I won’t dignify the “diversity trumps quality” remark with a response but I will say this: we need to make sure this windfall for diversity in awards (not just this set of awards but all kinds of awards) doesn’t make us complacent about the actual numbers of characters, books, authors, editors, agents and publishers in the biz who reflect the diversity of the population.

  43. We had every honor and medal book for the Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz in our collection. It was a happy day for me. I approach YMA day with anticipation and dread.

    (Last year, we didn’t have the Caldecott Medal and one of the Newbery Honor books. I felt awful. But nobody really seemed to care but me. We ordered what we needed to order that same day, received the books several weeks later, and life went on.)

  44. Sarah Chuen says:

    I am here to argue that books should only be judged on their merits and distinguishing characteristics, and not on who created them. We all know America is a huge melting pot, and that diversity is here to stay. That said, ALA should probably discontinue the YMAs specifically for blacks, Hispanics, gays and the disabled. The Newbery and Caldecott committees are most certainly covering those bases quite well. Martha P. of the Horn Book very smartly pointed out the inherent flaws in Last Stop on Market Street (her review of 9/15) and mentioned the Caldecott committee is made up of librarians who notice detail. Evidently the committee members on neither the Caldecott or Newbery did, or this substandard, copycat (Keats) book would not have won a thing. These awards have become irrelevant and reflect political correctness at its worst. But thanks again, Martha, for your critical analysis.

  45. “Sarah: What are the chances that 18 out of the last 20 Caldecott winners would be white?”

    Extremely high as probably 90% (the ratio) of picture books are written by white people.

  46. The truth is the ALA commitee for the Caldecott has often waded into the culturally hip or relevant waters of the moment. Note the 1970s field when native american and african cultures were in vogue, or Eve Bunting’s Smoky Night about the LA riots. Many iffy recipients in that bunch.

    I just think it’s absolutely silly to say that these things aren’t considered.

    I also don’t think diversity should be a ‘one of each’ type of approach. Ratios that fit the population should be diverse enough, or better yet, the population of picture book writers. Anything else is artificially achieving a desired outcome, like quotas.

    My problem is actually not at all with non-white artists getting awards, but that the committees invariably gravitate toward the most condescending and culturally charged content. Where are the picture books set in the relatively normal lives of upper middle class blacks and hispanics? It’s always about oppression, poverty, family legacy, urban sprawl, or direct books about cultural historical figures.

    I also think a lot of committee members from minority districts look at their time on the committee as an opportunity to showcase stories that their kids would identify more with. Last year’s Newbery winner ‘The Crossover’ was an egregious example.

    Anyway, I am completely allowed my view that the best picture books and childrens literature have not been served by these awards.

    And The Snowy Day is my favorite picture book.

  47. Renee Chalut says:

    Sorry, I’m new here, but I have a couple of questions, aimed particularly at Telly and CJ:

    1 – CJ – do you really think that you’re only expressing your opinion that the most distinguished book wasn’t recognized when you accused the committee of putting diversity ahead of quality?

    2 – Have either of you sat on the Caldecott Committee (or ANY major book award committee)?

    3 – Do you have any familiarity of the criteria and procedures employed in evaluating the books for this award?

    4 – How is culturally based content condescending?

    5 – How is demanding depictions of middle class white people not doing exactly what you are criticizing – wanting a book to win on another merit than quality?

    4 – Can you please provide some evidence to your claims? I’m a librarian – we like evidence (90% of people that write picture books are white, hmmmm? Where’s that statistic from?)

    5 – Why do you feel the need to hide behind sock puppets? When you make an accusation that casts aspersions on people’s professional conduct in such a public forum (not to mention calling them “smug,” which is just mean), you should have the courage to name yourself and stand by what you say.

  48. I’m 100% on board with the idea that awards should be given on the basis of artistic merit, not the creators’ identities, and this year’s award committees have all of my appreciation for doing exactly that. They did not succumb to the misguided notion that inclusive representation somehow results in the opposite; instead, they displayed a clear understanding that artistic merit is not tied to identification with a cultural majority. They unmistakably realized that disregarding the goal of inclusive representation, consciously or not, DOES wrongly make the identity of the creators a primary engine of the process. When we feel confident that our entire community of authors and illustrators are receiving due consideration, we can feel confident that artistic merit is what we’re truly recognizing and celebrating. The two most recent lists of ALAYMA honorees have pushed my level of confidence in the award committees higher to its highest level yet.

  49. Er, please disregard the many errors in my previous comment…

  50. I do wonder if Last Stop on Market Street is showing the moral superiority of poverty. I just think that Nana’s positivity will only go so far as CJ begins to grow up.

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