Subscribe to The Horn Book

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Engines

Thanks for chiming in with the books you are excited about! I still have the feeling that The Book has not been mentioned yet…no reason for that feeling, really, but I just think I am missing something. (I know, for instance, that new books illustrated by Javaka Steptoe, Jerry Pinkney, and Ashley Bryan are forthcoming.) Part of it is that I don’t live my work life in a small office filled with most of the books that were published in 2016. I don’t live my work life in a library or bookstore. I have to rely on other people to be my eyes and ears.

SO, we start.

At the end of this post, you will find a preliminary list of 2016 Caldecott-eligible books, which we have compiled as a group. Will we talk about every single book? Nope. We will not. We will talk about many of them, but not all. And for sure we will talk about books that aren’t on the list.

Here is how we will choose the books we’ll end up talking about on Calling Caldecott:

  1. We think the book will win and we want to explore why we appreciate it.
  2. We don’t like the book and we want to explore why we do not appreciate it.
  3. The art interests us because it surprises us for one reason or another. (For example, the illustrations are photographs or in some other medium we haven’t talked about in a while.)
  4. There is buzz in the ozone.
  5. There should be buzz in the ozone.
  6. We just feel like it.
  7. It arrives on the scene in December and we just know it is Something Special.

We will discuss our first title (or titles) starting on Thursday. Sometimes it just makes sense to talk about two or three books in the same posting because that’s how the committee will talk about them. I have not noticed any real patterns (as in the year of the multiple Darwin books). Yet. Please continue to comment on any titles that you stumble upon as you begin getting serious about the Caldecott selections. Also, please suggest Burning Issues of Our Times that you’d like to hear us chat about. We love to talk. And listen.

And so, without further ado, the start-us-off 2016 list:

  • Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford; illus. by R. Gregory Christie
  • Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph by Roxane Orgill; illus. by Francis Vallejo
  • Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat
  • Emma and Julia Love Ballet by Barbara McClintock
  • Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley; illus. by Lauren Castillo
  • Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie; illus. by Yuyi Morales
  • The Airport Book by Lisa Brown
  • Flora and the Peacocks by Molly Idle
  • This Is Not a Picture Book! by Sergio Ruzzier
  • City Shapes by Diana Murray; illus. by Bryan Collier
  • School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex; illus. by Christian Robinson
  • Frank and Lucky Get Schooled by Lynne Rae Perkins
  • Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak
  • Excellent Ed by Stacy McAnulty;
illus. by Julia Sarcone-Roach
  • Can One Balloon Make an Elephant Fly? by Dan Richards;
illus. by Jeff Newman
  • Marta! Big and Small by Jen Arena; illus. by Angela Dominguez
  • Lucy by Randy Cecil
  • Come Home, Angus by Patrick Downes; illus. by Boris Kulikov
  • The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito; illus. by Julia Kuo
  • Giant Squid by Candace Fleming; illus. by Eric Rohmann
  • They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel
  • Before Morning by Joyce Sidman; illus. by Beth Krommes
  • Henry & Leo by Pamela Zagarenski; illus. by the author
  • Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis
  • We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen
  • Leave Me Alone! by Vera Brosgol
  • Snow White by Matt Phelan
  • The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas; illus. by Erin E. Stead
  • Maybe Something Beautiful by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell; illus. by Rafael Lopez
  • Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White by Melissa Sweet
  • March: Book 3 by Andrew Aydin and John Lewis; illus. by Nate Powell 


Robin Smith About Robin Smith

Robin Smith is a second-grade teacher at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee. She is a reviewer for Kirkus and The Horn Book Magazine and has served on multiple award committees.



  1. How very exciting to see this list! Woohoo!

    How about The Princess and the Warrior, by Duncan Tonatiuh? For our Mock Caldecott in Cincinnati, we have (almost) 25 titles picked out; many of them are listed above, but of the ones I don’t see on your list, I think the strongest of our remaining books are Ada’s Violin (ill. by Sally Wern Comport), The Night Gardener (ill. by the Fan Brothers), I am Pan! (ill. Mordecai Gerstein), Cleonardo (Mary GrandPre), The Storyteller (ill. by Evan Turk), and Whoosh! (ill. by Don Tate)

  2. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    Thanks for the suggestions, Sam. I have exactly zero of these titles, so you have given me a dandy assignment!

  3. Sam – are the Fan brothers eligible? When I was looking for info online, all I found was that they were Canadian and at least one is Toronto based. I would love any additional info if you have it!

  4. Good question, Jen J.; the blurb on the backflap of Night Gardener says they were born in the U.S., which (I believe) makes them eligible.

  5. Ohhh – look at the BOOK – that is a high-level research technique that I haven’t attempted yet!

    In all seriousness – thanks! I clearly haven’t had that one in my hands yet and will be updating my next Newbery eligibility post with that info. And I am delighted to have another Caldecott contender to look for!

  6. What a great list! I look forward to hearing what you all have to say about these titles. Sam, you have listed several of my favorites this year as well. Another one I don’t think I’ve seen mentioned yet is The Typewriter (ill by Bill Thomson).

  7. Excited about this list!!
    Sam! Great, as always to see your comments and your list.
    Robin! I know what you mean about The One, I sort of feel like that too! But I think we’ll find out more as we proceed here.

  8. Frankie Moore says:

    What about Some Writer! by Melissa Sweet. I haven’t gotten my hands on it yet. Her work is Caldecott worthy and everything I have read says the writing is great too.

  9. The list here is fabulous and comprehensive as are Sam Bloom’s additions.

    There are a few others however that I feel are essential. Paramount among those is the absolutely ravishing MIRACLE MAN: THE STORY OF JESUS by John Hendrix. For me this book deserves to compete for the gold.


    Cricket Song by Anne Hunter
    Life Lessons by Jon Agee
    Fearless Flyer by Heather Lang and Raul Colon
    One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree by Daniel Bernstrom and Brendan Wenzel (God, what a year for Mr. W. )
    Among A Thousand Fireflies by Helen Frost and Rick Lieder
    Before I Leave by Jessixa Bagley

    In addition to the great expectations for Melissa Sweet’s SOME PIG!, we also have much the same for another literary work, Wendell Minor’s book on Willa Cather.

  10. I beg your indulgence for two final additions for now, which I accidentally but vitally left off the above comment.

    There is a Tribe of Kids (Lane Smith)

    Field Guide to the Grumpasaurus (Edward Hemingway)

  11. In addition to all the great book mentioned, I really liked Dario and the Whale, illustrated by Bistra Masseva.

  12. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    I looked up Bistra Masseva and it looks like she is British, which makes her ineligible for Caldecott…but eligible for many other awards. I will be looking for Dario and the Whale at the library! Thanks for pointing that out.

  13. A teacher and a parent says:

    I know I’m late to the party, but glad to know it’s going to go until mid-January. Here are a few of the standout titles for me that I didn’t see on the main list

    * Hendrix’s MIRACLE MAN is one of the best and uplifting picture books I’ve ever seen about a religious figure.

    * Gottesfeld’s THE TREE IN THE COURTYARD is one of the most sober and breathtaking picture books I’ve ever seen about the good and bad of humanity. Illustrations by Peter McCarty.

    * Thompson’s THE TYPEWRITER. Nine words have never been so powerful.

  14. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    The Bryan, Steptoe, and Jackson/Pinkney are all being reviewed in the November HB. I know that feeling you mean, Robin, and I just had it again typing the previous sentence 😉

  15. Even in Australia says:

    What about:

    Real Cowboys by Kate Hoefler and
    I Am a Story by Dan Yaccarino?

  16. Can we take a moment to nod at Elanna Allen’s, Poor Little Guy? What a nice move to the picture book world for her after the Violet Mackerel series.

    I have to agree with Sam’s addition of The Night Gardener–the Fan brothers have something really special there. From the moment I saw it, I thought it was medal bait for sure.

  17. I’d love to hear what you think of Ada’s Violin, by Susan Hood, illustrated by Sally Wern Comport. Another one I really like is A Hungry Lion… by Lucy Cummins

    Great list, some of my favs are already on there!

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind