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Calling Caldecott 2017 ballot #1 now open

Here is a link to the 2017 Calling Caldecott ballot. It will be open until 9 a.m. (EST) tomorrow — Friday, January 13. Around 1 p.m., we will post the results and a link to the second ballot. Go ahead and lobby for your favorites in the comments here. Or mourn for the books that […]

Laying out the voting rules, 2016 edition

Okay, you know the drill. The Real Committee will meet in less than two weeks to make their final decisions. How in the world are they going to do it? I DON’T KNOW. We had a horrible time putting our ballot together, and we didn’t have hours of discussion and gallons of coffee to aid […]

Real Cowboys

Most of us associate illustrator Jonathan Bean with a more representative style and a less saturated medium. (Think Building Our House and This Is My Home, This Is My School.) But of course the Real Committee can’t be thinking about that, and anyway Bean made the right artistic choice for this book’s impressionistic text. The art is composed of […]

Ideas Are All Around

I suspect I will be in the minority when I tell you my thoughts about this book. But as I tell my students, you have to have the spine to say what you think, and the tact to do it in a way that is direct but not mean. But, wow, is that hard. Especially […]

“Judged purely on artistic merit”: The 2016 New York Times Best Illustrated Books

Editor’s note: Cathryn M. Mercier, director of the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Simmons College and a judge on the 2012 New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books panel, generously took us up on a request to look at the picture books on this year’s list, in one bang-up, round-up post. Of the ten books […]

Miracle Man

Truth be told, I almost always avoid standard religious children’s books, as I find the majority of them trite, preachy, or overly sentimental. A picture book about Jesus could easily fall into one of these categories; could be a sentimental, moralistic depiction with a didactic message. But in the hands of author-illustrator John Hendrix, the story of Jesus feels simultaneously […]

The Blob (of Books) That Ate Atlanta

I had a delightful holiday, thank you very much. There was a small blemish on my weeks off, though. In between the gift exchanges and deciding What In The World Should We Watch On Netflix, there was that little voice sounding in the back of my brain. The voice said, “Martha is going to want […]

Marta! Big and Small

The most important lesson I’ve learned from reading picture books is that little books can hold big ideas. This book, which introduces us to an adorable, “ordinary” girl named Marta, isn’t just a cute bilingual book about opposites. Each double-page spread features Marta and an animal on a clean white background, with few surrounding details. […]

Beginning Readers and the Caldecott

Beginning readers aren’t awarded Caldecott Medals or Honors. Not really. Arnold Lobel did win a Caldecott Honor way back in 1971 for Frog and Toad Are Friends, and the past ten years have seen Caldecott recognition of picture books that also function as beginning readers: Kevin Henkes’s Waiting (2016); Jon Klassen’s This Is Not My Hat (2013); Laura Vaccaro […]

Excellent Ed

In Excellent Ed, a dog longs for confirmation that he is special and important to his family. Each of the Ellis children are gifted at one thing or another, and Ed wants to know what he contributes to the group. He knows he is good at “forgetting stuff” and “losing stuff,” but is that enough […]