Bluebird and Bully


Covers make the book, and both of these titles, related by theme, have stunning covers. Once you see them, you are unlikely to forget them. That lone bluebird flying over the city portends the poignant story within, and that bull, bathed in bold red, defiantly glaring, dares the reader to even open the book. The reason […]

Picture books and books with graphic elements


I hate to follow such a serious discussion with one that is not exactly fraught with such wide societal concerns. I am still thinking about all the ideas Martha and Thom brought up. At this moment (10/3/2013), the U.S. government is shut down, Obamacare is on everyone’s mind, and I am thinking about comic books. […]

On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein

berne_on a beam of light

There he is, Einstein, floating on the cover. No horizon line holds him to the ground, and his eyes are fastened on the sun. Loose lines, gestural paintings, and gorgeous watery gouache come together to make me appreciate the childhood of Einstein…and serve to make children want to learn more about him, too. And now […]

Picture Book or Illustrated Book?


The first thing the Caldecott committee will have to figure out is what a picture book is. I still remember staring at my feet when the chair of my committee asked, “What do you think makes a book a picture book as opposed to an illustrated book?” The silence was interrupted by mass clearing of […]

Water in the Park

water in the park

Water, water everywhere. We learn early on (on the copyright page) that this is an homage to Tresselt and Duvoisin’s White Snow, Bright Snow and to Zolotow and Rey’s The Park Book. The fact that most of you have heard of the first while the latter has faded into the past points out something important: that […]

On your mark, get set, read!


Dear Patient Readers, Martha and I have come up with a plan for the next few months of your our lives. It involves a lot of words like gutter, back matter, typeface, design, saturated, and stylized. Some of those words we actually understand. We have mapped out our time, knowing that Lolly will jump in as soon […]

How to read a picture book, the Caldecott edition


1. Look at the cover. Feel the cover. Imagine the sticker. 2. Take the paper jacket off and check out the inside cover. I am sure there is a word for this part of the book, but I only have my non-librarian training to fall back on. Note whether the inside cover is is different […]

Time to get our lists in order


Since January, Lolly, Martha, and I have been collecting picture books that might be talked about come Caldecott time. Our first challenge is to make a list that pleases us. Just us. Some of the two dozen titles are there because they will be fun to argue about; some because one of us was wowed […]

We are back…almost


It’s hot, it’s humid and it’s time for Calling Caldecott again! We will start in earnest in a day or two, when we come back with our list of books we think will be talked about in the conference rooms of ALA Philadelphia in January 2014, but for now, I wanted to get everyone up […]

Caldecott 2013

z is for moose

As a book reviewer, one of the authors of the Horn Book’s Calling Caldecott blog, and a second-grade teacher, picture books are a huge part of my life. There are times when I feel overwhelmed by them. My dining room table groans with the weight of Books I Love, each vying for a coveted spot […]