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Mock Caldecotts 2018

Know what I miss the most about school librarianship, other than story times? Mock Caldecotts. This is the time of year for them, and I love to read about the educators out there who talk to students about the 2017 picture books they love, delve into detailed discussions about them, and prep them for mock-voting in early 2018. Engaging children in these close picture-book readings is so good for their growing brains (but if we delve into all the reasons why, we’d be here all day).

We here at Calling Caldecott want to hear about your mock Caldecott lists, if you’re so inclined to share. We have already seen some popping up. Educators and bloggers Mr. Schu (John Schumacher) and Colby Sharp are collaborating on a list with Mr. Sharp’s fifth-grade students. You can read about that here. School librarian Travis Jonker of 100 Scope Notes explains his system and showcases his 2018 list here.

I’m going to make an example here of another one — Nashville elementary-school librarian (and Calling Caldecott contributor) Emmie Stuart’s. She has just sketched out her 2018 Mock Caldecott timeline for the next three months. She keeps the students’ choices on a silver tray — a place of honor, she calls it — leading up to voting day. She has circulating copies of these books, but her non-circulating copies (the ones where they can take the dust jackets off and explore more) live on this tray, unless they’re being read. Here’s this year’s stack (two titles not pictured):

The complete list (since it’s hard to read titles in that photo) is EggLittle Fox In the ForestRobinson; Windows; NowThe Book of MistakesThe Antlered Ship; Mighty Moby; Big Cat, Little CatThe Little Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABC’s (the Hard Way); Wolf in the SnowThat Neighbor Kid; All the Way to Havana; Blue Sky, White StarsAfter the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again); Red and Lulu; Big Machines: The Story of Virginia Lee Burton; and How to Find an Elephant. 

Before the week of February 5th, Emmie will have read at least 18 books with her students. They will then review the titles all that week and vote on Friday, February 9th. “Voting day is one of my favorite days of the year,” she says, “because I get to eavesdrop on children discussing great picture books. I love watching them deliberate over the illustrations and get a thrill each time I see them feel covers or check the endpapers.”

Which books are on your mock-Caldecott lists? What’s your game plan this year? Do your students get fired up about it? We hope you’ll share in the comments.

I’ll close with some photos of the Caldecott area in Emmie’s library, as well as a student discovering a surprise under a dust jacket.

Julie Danielson About Julie Danielson

Julie Danielson writes about picture books at the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. She also writes for Kirkus Reviews and BookPage and is a lecturer for the School of Information Sciences graduate program at the University of Tennessee. Her book Wild Things!: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, written with Betsy Bird and Peter D. Sieruta, was published in 2014.



  1. Angela Frederick says:

    As usual, everything Emmie does in the library is awesome!

  2. Mock Caldecott list for #3 School Annex, Fairview N.J.
    (Five first grade classes of 30 to 34 staudents each and one second grade class of 31)

    Rules for the last four years were ammended to include non-American picture books as well. Hence Canadian Kate Beaton’s “The Princess and the Pony” was our Medal winner two years ago, though I’d say flatulence was as much responsible as the appealing, kid-friendly art.

    Last year our medal winner was Vera Brosgol’s “Leave Me Alone” handily. Each year we go with five Honor books as well. This year the 88 nominees are the 2017 titles that have been read or will be read by the deadline, all of which are now owned (except for the Miyakoshi title which has been ordered) and will again be displayed on tables in the school gymnasium on the late January day selected for the official Mock Caldecott voting:

    King of the Sky (British)
    On A Magical Do-Nothing Day (French/Italian)
    Thank You Bees
    Wolf in the Snow
    The Tea Party in the Woods (Japanese)
    Miguel’s Brave Night
    All the Way to Havana
    Out of Wonder
    Before She Was Harriet
    Long May She Wave
    After the Fall
    The Three Billy Goats Gruff
    Little Fox in the Forest
    Blue Sky White Stars
    The Ring Bearer
    Ruth Bader Ginsburg
    The Secret Project
    Full of Fall
    A Perfect Day
    The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine
    All Ears All Eyes
    Come with Me (ill., French)
    The World is Not a Triangle
    Feather (French)
    The River (Australian)
    How It Feels to Be a Boat
    Pony in the City
    In the Middle of Fall
    How to Be a Bigger Bunny
    Big Cat Little Cat
    This House, Once
    The Seashore Book
    The Wolf, the Duck and the Mouse
    Ice Boy
    Wake Up
    Creepy Pair of Underwear
    Caroline’s Comets
    In Your Hands
    Her Right Foot
    Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut
    Life on Mars
    Plume (French)
    Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos
    The Book of Mistakes
    Stay: A Girl, a Dog, a Bucket List
    Why Am I Me?
    The Music of Life
    Grand Canyon
    Double Take: A New Look at Opposites
    Dazzle Ships
    Town is By the Sea (Canadian)
    This id My Dream!
    How to Be an Elephant
    The Pomegranate Witch
    When’s My Birthday?
    Fables You Shouldn’t Pay Any Attention To
    Marti’s Song of Freedom
    A Different Pond
    Mighty Moby
    Rhino in the House
    And the Robot Went……
    The Teacher’s Pet
    Morris Mole
    Goldfish Ghost
    Good Night! Good Night!
    This Beautiful Day (South Korean)
    The Jelly Bean Tree
    Pete With No Pants
    Bob, Not Bob
    Ben’s Revolution
    The Little Red Cat
    The 12 Days of Christmas
    The Quest For Z
    The Hawk of the Castle: A Study of Medieval Falconry
    The Princess and the Pea
    The Only Fish in the Sea

  3. Actually 89, accidentally left off a gem:

    The Antlered Ship

  4. And finally, one more inclusion. I finally received my copy of Allen Say’s SILENT DAYS, SILENT DREAMS yesterday, and will present it to the classes on Monday. I will save my scene scefic comments on this staggering masterpiece for the Caldecott Caldecott thread which will consider it. So 89 entries.

  5. Bill Wright says:

    Our list this year for my 3rd grade class at Kensico School…

    After the Fall
    All the Way to Havana
    The Antlered Ship
    Big Cat, Little Cat
    Blue Sky, White Stars
    The Book of Mistakes
    Grand Canyon
    Her Right Foot
    How to Be an Elephant
    Little Fox in the Forest
    The Little Red Cat Who Left Home and Learned His ABCs (the Hard Way)
    A Perfect Day
    Red & Lulu
    This House Once
    Three Billy Goats Gruff
    Wolf in the Snow
    The Wolf, the Duck, & the Mouse

    We have been working on the criteria last week and will finish this week, along with a “how to look at a book for Caldecott” lesson, then will begin reading. Short list nominations just before the holiday break, then discussions and follow up reading in January. Voting right before the ALA Midwinters.

  6. Allison Grover Khoury says:

    Thanks for this post – I really enjoyed the pictures and the way she works with the books. We don’t have access to our library every day as we share with another school, so I take books into the classroom to read and leave them there for a week so the students can look at the book over the week.
    I was inspired to start our Caldecott Reading Program by Calling Caldecott. I usually do our Caldecott Reading Program in the fall, but I am doing it just for January and early February this year since the ALA meeting and awards announcement is mid-Feb. Since I go into the class room for the reading, I am dependent on the teachers’ schedule. The first year I did grades 1-3 (3 classes of each). Last year I included Kinder.
    I usually use books from the Calling Caldecott list, and a few that I love that aren’t on this list.
    We discuss illustration and art and the Caldecott Criteria the first session. We vote on how we like the book after reading it and discussing it. We vote on story, illustration and how well the two work together.
    I am amazed at the number of parents who reach out to me to say how much their children enjoy the program.

  7. Since I now work in academia, my Mock Caldecott list is shorter (many undergrads buckle under massive reading lists – even for pleasure) – and I fear I’ve missed a few gems. We’ll see how things shake out.

    After the Fall
    Blue Sky, White Stars
    The Book of Mistakes
    A Greyhound, A Groundhog
    Jabari Jumps
    The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors
    Nothing Rhymes with Orange
    Out of Wonder
    A Perfect Day
    This House Once
    This is How We Do It
    Wolf in the Snow

  8. Thanks for sharing, everyone! Keep ’em coming.

  9. I’m a public youth services librarian, but I go in once a week to do booktalks in the elementary school. They’re short (only 15 minutes at most), but always include reading a picture book. In the fall/early winter that means reading and discussing books that are Caldecott contenders. I’ve partnered with the school librarian so that the fourth graders also do a unit on the Caldecott with her the month before the award announcement. Right before the announcement I print out the covers of all of the books we’ve read and let each classroom vote. After I have the totals I tell each class what their own classroom chose as well as what the school as a whole chose. Last year we watched the award announcement the next time I visited the classroom. This year my visits are mostly Monday morning, and the time difference means that I’ll have seen most of the classes before the announcement is made, but I suspect that even though it’s huge news in the library world, it likely won’t have filtered down to spoil the surprise for the elementary students even if they have to wait a week.

    Last year was the first time we did it and every student was supposed to pick one book. I am debating how I want to do it this year. For a variety of reasons (earlier start, later announcement date, etc) we’re reading almost twice as many books this year. Based on how scattershot the voting was last year with only 12 books, I suspect having 20+ this year is going to spread the votes out so widely the winner will only need a tiny number of votes per classroom. Since I only have a very limited amount of time with each class there isn’t much of a chance to have head-to-head eliminations. Right now I’m debating between having a runoff vote and having a weighted vote. A couple of classrooms last year spontaneously started weighted voting when the students complained they couldn’t choose only one book, and asked if they could write down numbers to show their first and second choice, so I’m leaning towards weighted voting right now.

    The kids do get surprisingly into it. I wasn’t sure last year if it would be something that was mostly interesting to me, but there was a lot of eager anticipation of the award announcement, and screaming when favorites won the real award. I do notice a more thoughtful discussion about things like endpapers and illustration/story connection, even with only a few minutes to discuss each book.

  10. Thanks, Alys. I love to hear how public librarians do these mock votes.

    And this may be the first time I’ve heard someone from academia weigh in too. (Thanks, Joe!)

  11. My Mock Caldecott picks for 2018:

    How to Make Friends with a Ghost by Rebecca Green
    On a Magical Do-Nothing Day by Beatrice Alemagna
    City Moon by Rachael Cole, illustrated by Blanca Gómez
    When’s my Birthday? by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Christian Robinson
    Smoot: A Rebellious Shadow by Michelle Cuevas, illustrated by Sydney Smith
    Now by Antoinette Portis
    Little Fox in the Forest by Stephanie Graegin
    La La La by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Jaime Kim
    Triangle by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen
    Life by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Brendan Wenzel

    Another favorite: Town is by the Sea by Joanne Schwartz, illustrated by Sydney Smith (not eligible for the Caldecott but it’s too beautiful not to include in a list filled with other beautiful books) =)

    I’m a public librarian and I appreciate all of the the Caldecott-related programming and display ideas listed here. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Julie, as the classroom administration of the Mock Caldecott is a work in progress (for my classes until late January for this later-than-usual-real-committee -Caldecott announcement) I have come upon other titles that I have added to the lengthy nomination list.

    One of these titles , “The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet” by Carmen Agra Deedy and Eugene Yelchin in my opinion so well deserves an essay in the Calling Caldecott lineup, though I understand and appreciate that you all have worked hard at providing an expansive list for your writers. Yelchin’s oil pastels, colored pencil, gouache and acrylic stylized art is gorgeous and is flawlessly attuned to Deedy’s deadpan humor. It is fast becoming one of my own favorites, and I see it has scored on year end lists from some fo the major outlets, a devlopment I do applaud. To boot the kids really love it. A very special picture book, methinks.

    I have also added these splendid books:

    Good Night Planet (Liniers) Martha’s marvelous alert has resulted in many new fans, inclusing moi. I dare say based on the extent of enthusiasm, this book will be one of the final winners. Nothing is certain, but this is a gut feeling.

    Over and Under the Pond (Kate Messner; Christopher Silas Neal) This is their fabulous collaboration, and I do believe this is the best one. Another title that I’d gleefully welcome a qualification essay on myself, but I know the pool is bursting now. 🙂

    I Have a Balloon (Ariel Bernstein; Scott Magoon) Mega kid-friendly with vivid colors and much humor.

    Soldier Song (Debbie Levy; Gilbert Ford) Wonderful introduction to one fo our nation’s most endlessly fascinating subjects. Love Ford’s silhouette-laden art, much as I did his lovely “Mr. Ferris and His Wheel.”

    La La La (Kate DiCamillo; Jaimie Kim) Gorgeous incandescent work for Kim, an arresting work.
    Damian Chazelle, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling have some competition here!

    I did include “The Only Fish in the Sea” (Phillip Stead/Matthew Cordell) but wanted to say what an effective and spirited romp it is, a worthy sequel to “Special Delivery” and confirmation Cordell had TWO great books out in 2017, not that Stead doesn’t. 🙂

    How to Find an Elephant (Katie Banks; Boris Kulikov) Another wonderful work from Kulikov, a personal favorite.

    Smoot: A Rebellious Shadow (Michelle Cuevas; Sydney Smith) Another gem from this illustrator – just got my copy and am adding after Thom’s alert yesterday. Yes, counts as Canadian though.

    Listen (Leda Schubert; Raol Colon) Colon has the magnificent “Miguel’s Brave Knight” with Margerita Engle, and he also has this lovely book about the musical icon Pete Seeger.

    Where’s Rodney? (Carmen Bogan/Floyd Cooper) Cooper is another who scored big twice this year, with the Calling Caldecott examination of “The Ring Bearer” imminent.

  13. gail bashein says:

    I’m inspired to start a Caldecott program here. I have always read likely contenders in the months leading up to the awards, but I’d like to be more organized this time around. One issue is the availability of the books — with a limited budget, we have purchased only four of the titles so far. I borrow the others from my local public library, but demand is often high and the wait can be long. I’m hoping for funding to help purchase at least a few others to make it a worthwhile contest.

  14. At Once Upon a Storybook, we celebrate the new Caldecotts by having a Caldecott Soiree after the winners have been announced. We lay out a red carpet and have the kids (and adults!) dress in their finest! Miss Susie the Storylady reads all of the Honors and unveils the Caldecott Award Medalist with great fanfare! It is our fanciest event of the year, and it’s one we look forward to the most!

    BTW, where can I get one of those awesome Caldecott posters with the book covers of all the previous winners???

  15. Susie, I’ll ask Emmie where she got it. (Probably ALA?) More soon!

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