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Welcome back! September is here!

The Olympics are over, hurricane season is in full force, the heat of summer still keeps many of us indoors, the new school year is underway, and it’s time for Caldecott thoughts. I pull out my Caldecott manual and highlight the criteria and schedule. At this point, the people on the real Caldecott committee are busy making suggestions and reading other committee members’ suggestions, over and over. Their shelves are starting to get a little overloaded with the possibilities. They have also, no doubt, had to say farewell to a few favorites already. (Why? Oh, at this point it is likely that someone suggested a book that was published last year, or is illustrated by a non-American, and so is not eligible. It happens.)

For those of you who are new to us, welcome.

For those returning, welcome back.

We are Robin Smith, Lolly Robinson, and Martha Parravano. Lolly and Martha are creative geniuses at The Horn Book Magazine, and I am a second grade teacher at Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee, and a book reviewer for the Horn Book. We all love to talk about books. We have been moderating this blog for the past five years, and each year we do things a little differently. Last year we asked friends and colleagues to contribute their thoughts about picture books to the blog. We will continue to pass the microphone around this fall. It was fun hearing a variety of voices; it just kept things fresh. 

And here is where you come in: which books are you drawn to this year? Which 2016 picture books have you shared with children that they come back to over and over again? Which books seem to fit with the criteria? Keep in mind the basic eligibility rules: American citizen or resident is the big one. That’s for the illustrator (the author’s citizenship or residency doesn’t matter). A book has to be published in the US in 2016, in English, and be an original work (i.e., not a reissue or previously published elsewhere). If you need a refresher course, there’s a link on the right (and here) to the Caldecott manual. 

Before we chime in with our suggestions, we would like to hear from YOU.

Early next week, we three will be back with our own preliminary lists of suggestions.

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. Eric Carpenter says:

    Glad to have Calling Caldecott back.
    My favorite for this year is Matt Phelan’s graphic novel retelling of Snow White. There’s some amazing visual storytelling going on with this one.
    I also love Freedom in Congo Square, The Airport Book, and Thunder Boy Jr.

  2. How do we let you “hear” from us? Is there an e-mail address to contact/reach out to?

  3. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    Dear Jessica and others,
    Just use the comment box below–under “Speak Your Mind”
    We want to hear from all of you!

  4. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    I love all your choices, Eric. Just read Snow White yesterday!

  5. Yaaayy welcome back!! A handful I’m obsessed with (that I *think* are eligible): SNAPPSY THE ALLIGATOR; THEY ALL SAW A CAT; THE UNCORKER OF OCEAN BOTTLES; THE HUNGRY LION, OR A DWINDLING ASSORTMENT OF ANIMALS; and FREEDOM IN CONGO SQUARE. There are so many great ones this year, it’s hard to choose!

  6. Eric Carpenter says:

    Hoping Little Red gets lots of CaldeNott consideration!

  7. Hooray! Welcome Back! So happy You Three are starting back up. I’ve missed this blog since January, and always wish it started earlier with some reviews and early thoughts in the spring (hint, hint!). I’ve been checking (almost obsessively) every day since mid-August hoping for an early start. (We go back to school in mid-August here in Southern CA).
    Some of my favorites are (same as some mentioned already): Freedom in Congo Square, Maybe Something Beautiful (does that count since Rafael Lopez lives in San Diego?), Thunder Boy, Jr., The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles, Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn (assume Kennard Pak is from the US), Jazz Day. However, I haven’t read the final two I listed, just had a quick glance. I have many more, but will stop there. I think it is a good year so far. Looking forward to recommendations from others.

  8. Laurina Cashin says:

    I haven’t seen many books so far but Real Cowboys is a book that I hope. Gets some discussion. Welcome back, CC!

  9. Dana Jones says:

    Welcome Back! We do a mock Caldecott at our public library so we have stared to pare down our candidates. I have been anxiously awaiting your return to make sure we haven’t missed anything.
    At the moment I’m in love with They All Saw a Cat and Thunder Boy Jr.

  10. Books I haven’t seen mentioned yet that I’d love to see discussed:

    Come Home, Angus (is Kulikov eligible?)
    This Is Not a Picture Book
    Can One Balloon Make an Elephant Fly?
    Twenty Yawns
    Emma and Julia Love Ballet
    The Secret Subway

  11. I’ve tried posting a comment several times but haven’t seen it shows up. Hopefully they’re lost in cyberspace so my comments aren’t duplicated.

    My favorites are Maybe Something Beautiful, The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles, Hippopotamister, Steamboat Schools, Flora and the Peacocks, Excellent Ed, and Aren’t We There Yet?

  12. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    Thanks so much for the suggestions. Since I teach school and do not work in a library, I often miss books. I ordered a few of your suggestions as I had missed them at my local bookstore and library.

    Matt–Did you mean Santat’s Are We There Yet? ( I just want to be sure I am not missing anything.)
    How have I missed the Elephant book? Am searching.
    The Real Cowboy seems to bring up strong feelings in each reader. I am taking a second look.
    Allison GK–
    It looks like Pak is eligible. I am looking into it. Rafael Lopez lives (according to his website) in both the US and Mexico, so he should be eligible.
    Thanks for all the suggestions. I love seeing each new title and worry about missing something. I am counting on all of you to make sure I consider everything!

  13. Hooray for CC! Hooray for MVP, Lolly and Robin!

    So, several of my favorites (that I can talk about) are also books that, I think, would be REALLY interesting to listen to the Real Committee discuss. Most notably, Some Writer – Melissa flipping Sweet, seriously you guys – and Du Iz Tak by Carson Ellis. I also am partial to Evan Turk’s The Storyteller and like everyone else here, Rafael Lopez (correct me if I’m wrong, but eligibility for Belpre = eligibility for Caldecott, no? They’re both ALSC awards, I’m pretty sure they have the same citizenship/eligibility stuff)

  14. Yes, Robin, I meant Santat’s Are We There Yet? I’m having issues with auto correct on my mobile device. Looking forward to another season!

  15. Charlene Williams says:

    My students love Dan Santat’s Are We There Yet? They love the futuristic illustrations and I think they can all relate to that family trip that took forever to get to. My 2nd graders particularly enjoyed it and now teachers are grabbing it from the Library to share with their students.
    Some of my personal favorites are Cricket Song by Anne Hunter, Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie and Maybe Something Beautiful by Isabel Campy.

  16. Brenda Martin says:

    Another in the CaldeNott category is GRUMPY PANTS by Claire Messer – what a wonderful pairing of text and illustrations. And super, super hilarious in both words and images.

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