The Horn Book » Calling Caldecott http://www.hbook.com Publications about books for children and young adults Tue, 27 Jan 2015 16:00:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 Calling Caldecott 2015 second ballot is open http://www.hbook.com/2015/01/blogs/calling-caldecott/calling-caldecott-2015-second-ballot-open/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/01/blogs/calling-caldecott/calling-caldecott-2015-second-ballot-open/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 14:01:54 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=45882 Here it is: Monday. In exactly a week, all of our Mock Caldecott awards will be a memory, and children’s book chatter will turn to the Real Committee’s books. So, while each real committee member is organizing notes, putting together last-minute arguments, and imagining that the books she or he nominated will wear medals for […]

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Here it is: Monday. In exactly a week, all of our Mock Caldecott awards will be a memory, and children’s book chatter will turn to the Real Committee’s books. So, while each real committee member is organizing notes, putting together last-minute arguments, and imagining that the books she or he nominated will wear medals for the rest of their lives, we continue to find out what YOU like. So, whether the books you voted for last week are still on the list or not, we hope you will vote your heart and got back to the voting booth one more time. Will you vote for The Farmer and the Clown and other front runners, or will you boost a book with less support? Check back on Tuesday around noon to see when happens!

For now, I am returning to the discussions with my second graders, who are full of love for their favorites…until someone points out a dreaded concern.

GO VOTE!!

Here’s a link to the second ballot

castyourballot_button_201x51

and here, again, is the list of books under discussion:

2015_ballot2_jackets

The Adventures of Beekle (Dan Santat)
Blizzard (John Rocco)
Draw! (Raúl Colón)
The Farmer and the Clown (Marla Frazee)
Gaston (Christian Robinson)
The Iridescence of Birds (Hadley Hooper)
Josephine (Christian Robinson)
A Letter for Leo (Sergio Ruzzier)
The Right Word (Melissa Sweet)
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole (Jon Klassen)
Viva Frida (Yuyi Morales)

 

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Calling Caldecott 2015 ballot #1 results http://www.hbook.com/2015/01/blogs/calling-caldecott/calling-caldecott-2015-ballot-1-results/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/01/blogs/calling-caldecott/calling-caldecott-2015-ballot-1-results/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 16:59:42 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=45754 This is when it gets really exciting for Martha, Robin, and me. We had access to the secret link where we could see more and more votes come in yesterday. I stopped checking around 11 p.m. last night but got right back online at 6 a.m. If we count up the first-place votes, a total […]

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This is when it gets really exciting for Martha, Robin, and me. We had access to the secret link where we could see more and more votes come in yesterday. I stopped checking around 11 p.m. last night but got right back online at 6 a.m.

If we count up the first-place votes, a total of 296 people cast their ballots here. There were 286 second-place votes and 283 for third place. I guess some people figure fewer votes will give more weight to the books they really love, or they had one or two big favorites and just wanted to vote for those.

All three of us have done the full-ballot math, weighting the votes as the real committee would: 1st choice votes x 4; 2nd choice votes x 3; 3rd choice votes x 2; then add them all up for the total points. Phew! More power to Robin who has to do this kind of thing all year long.

Here are the results:

1st choice
(4 points)
2nd choice
(3 points)
3rd choice
(2 points)
Total points
The Adventures of Beekle
19 12 22 156
All Different Now
2 5 7 37
Bad Bye, Good Bye
13 7 11 95
Blizzard
8 17 19 121
Buried Sunlight
1 3 6 25
Draw!
14 13 12 119
The Farmer and the Clown
52 32 18 340
Firefly July
11 11 6 89
Gaston 12 12 14 112
Gravity
3 7 18 69
Hug Machine
5 13 10 79
The Iridescence of Birds
15 18 13 140
Josephine 16 15 8 125
Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads
4 7 9 55
A Letter for Leo
15 10 9 108
My Bus
1 0 4 12
My Grandfather’s Coat
6 6 12 66
Nana in the City
3 14 8 70
Neighborhood Sharks
5 7 6 53
The Pilot and the Little Prince
4 9 5 53
The Right Word
17 14 17 144
Quest
5 7 4 49
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole
27 29 21 237
Viva Frida
24 10 17 160
Winter Bees
14 8 6 92

 

Next we had to decide how many books to move over to the second ballot. With the magic of FluidSurveys and Excel, I was able to create this visual. (I tend to go cross-eyed looking at a list of numbers, but everything becomes clearer when I can see the relative differences.)

2015ballot1results

It’s clear that two books are at the front of the pack (with, actually, Marla Frazee’s Farmer and the Clown well ahead of Jon Klassen’s Sam & Dave Dig a Hole), and most of the rest are closer together. But it’s important to send a healthy number of titles onto the second ballot, because we might be surprised: once people are looking at a new group of books, votes will shift around. Someone whose favorites are no longer available will not necessarily cast their next votes for what seem now to be the frontrunners.

We decided to move all books getting 100 or more points onto the second ballot, which gives us eleven books out of the original twenty-five. For us, the second ballot will also be the final one. (On the real committee, they would keep voting until one book got the majority of first choice votes.)

Here are the books that will be on the final ballot, available Monday morning at 9 a.m. EST and closing at the same time Tuesday:

2015_ballot2_jackets

The Adventures of Beekle (Dan Santat)
Blizzard (John Rocco)
Draw! (Raúl Colón)
The Farmer and the Clown (Marla Frazee)
Gaston (Christian Robinson)
The Iridescence of Birds (Hadley Hooper)
Josephine (Christian Robinson)
A Letter for Leo (Sergio Ruzzier)
The Right Word (Melissa Sweet)
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole (Jon Klassen)
Viva Frida (Yuyi Morales)

Now it’s time, perhaps, to mourn a favorite book that didn’t make the cut-off and isn’t going to win here (but of course every book still has a chance with the real committee). You can also use the comments to try to persuade others to choose the book you think is most worthy. This is exactly what happens at this stage on the real committee. Here is where everyone becomes passionate (maybe even teary) and super-articulate.

 

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The polls are open! http://www.hbook.com/2015/01/blogs/calling-caldecott/polls-open/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/01/blogs/calling-caldecott/polls-open/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 14:00:36 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=45676 Come one, come all. The polls are now open! Here (and in the ballot button above) is your link to the ballot where you can vote until 9 a.m. EST tomorrow (Friday, January 23). We set up the ballot so you will vote for your first, second, and third place books, because that is how […]

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voting_booth_2015_draft2

Come one, come all. The polls are now open!

castyourballot_button_201x51

Here (and in the ballot button above) is your link to the ballot where you can vote until 9 a.m. EST tomorrow (Friday, January 23). We set up the ballot so you will vote for your first, second, and third place books, because that is how the actual Caldecott committee will be voting. Vote tallying is a somewhat complex matter with a point system that gives 4 points to first place votes, 3 points to second place, and 2 points to third place votes. Tallying the ballots involves a fair amount of math. Happily, Robin enjoys this task and even enrolls her second graders as math checkers. If you are interested in the finer points of this tallying system, here is a page with all the details, from the Caldecott manual.

Tomorrow at noon we will post the results of the first ballot and tell you what will be on the second ballot (open Monday a.m. to Tuesday a.m. EST). The real committee would keep discussing and voting until there was a clear winner: one book that gets first place votes from more than half the committee. But we have such a large group here that this would never work for us. We’ll cap it at two ballots and then declare the winner and honor books.

For those who want to think some more before voting, see the list below for a reminder of what is on the ballot (above).

I also promised Robin that I would once again wag a finger at all of you who might be inclined to use social media to drum up votes from all your friends and relations. We DO want you to spread the word to others who know picture books, but please be aware that even 5 or 6 votes from people who are just doing someone a favor can sway this vote. We would rather it reflect what the real committee is doing: voting only after considering each book very carefully. Okay. Enough lecturing. Now it’s your turn to weigh in, both in the comments below and by clicking on the ballot.


Reminder: Calling Caldecott 2015 First Ballot Titles:

  1. The Adventures of Beekle (Dan Santat)
  2. All Different Now (E. B. Lewis)
  3. Bad Bye, Good Bye (Jonathan Bean)
  4. Blizzard (John Rocco)
  5. Buried Sunlight (Molly Bang)
  6. Draw! (Raúl Colón)
  7. The Farmer and the Clown (Marla Frazee)
  8. Firefly July (Melissa Sweet)
  9. Gaston (Christian Robinson)
  10. Gravity (Jason Chin)
  11. Hug Machine (Scott Campbell)
  12. The Iridescence of Birds (Hadley Hooper)
  13. Josephine (Christian Robinson)
  14. Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads (Lane Smith)
  15. A Letter for Leo (Sergio Ruzzier)
  16. My Bus (Byron Barton)
  17. My Grandfather’s Coat (Barbara McClintock)
  18. Nana in the City (Lauren Castillo)
  19. Neighborhood Sharks (Katherine Roy)
  20. The Pilot and the Little Prince (Peter Sís)
  21. The Right Word (Melissa Sweet)
  22. Quest (Aaron Becker)
  23. Sam & Dave Dig a Hole (Jon Klassen)
  24. Viva Frida (Yuyi Morales)
  25. Winter Bees (Rick Allen)

 

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Pre-voting instructions…it’s almost time! http://www.hbook.com/2015/01/blogs/calling-caldecott/pre-voting-instructions-almost-time/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/01/blogs/calling-caldecott/pre-voting-instructions-almost-time/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 17:00:46 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=45608 I find it hard to believe that we’re less than two weeks from The Announcement at ALA. It was harder than you might think to put our ballot together — and it will be just as challenging for the folks on the Real Committee to narrow the field and choose the titles they want to consider. […]

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vote_tomorrow

I find it hard to believe that we’re less than two weeks from The Announcement at ALA. It was harder than you might think to put our ballot together — and it will be just as challenging for the folks on the Real Committee to narrow the field and choose the titles they want to consider. With every new Mock Caldecott announcement, I feel that same pang of anxiety I felt when I was on the committee some years ago. It usually starts with, “What are they seeing that I am not seeing?” and moves on to, “WHAT? I have not even seen that book!” Breathe in, breathe out.

Here are the 25 titles the three of us have chosen to appear on our mock Caldecott ballot:

  1. The Adventures of Beekle (Dan Santat)
  2. All Different Now (E. B. Lewis)
  3. Bad Bye, Good Bye (Jonathan Bean)
  4. Blizzard (John Rocco)
  5. Buried Sunlight (Molly Bang)
  6. Draw! (Raúl Colón)
  7. The Farmer and the Clown (Marla Frazee)
  8. Firefly July (Melissa Sweet)
  9. Gaston (Christian Robinson)
  10. Gravity (Jason Chin)
  11. Hug Machine (Scott Campbell)
  12. The Iridescence of Birds (Hadley Hooper)
  13. Josephine (Christian Robinson)
  14. Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads (Lane Smith)
  15. A Letter for Leo (Sergio Ruzzier)
  16. My Bus (Byron Barton)
  17. My Grandfather’s Coat (Barbara McClintock)
  18. Nana in the City (Lauren Castillo)
  19. Neighborhood Sharks (Katherine Roy)
  20. The Pilot and the Little Prince (Peter Sís)
  21. The Right Word (Melissa Sweet)
  22. Quest (Aaron Becker)
  23. Sam & Dave Dig a Hole (Jon Klassen)
  24. Viva Frida (Yuyi Morales)
  25. Winter Bees (Rick Allen)

Tomorrow (Thursday), Calling Caldecott will become MOCK Caldecott: all of you get to vote for the winners and honor books. We are going to repeat this next part tomorrow, just so everyone reads it. When it comes time to vote, please just vote for the three books you think are most deserving. Please, for the love of all I hold dear, do not send out links to your grandma, your second cousin, and all the people in your publishing house so that they can vote for your favorite book (or the book you wrote or illustrated). It’s fine (and we encourage this) to send the link to folks who love picture books and who have opinions about many of the books on the list. Just, please, let everyone decide for her- or himself. Get it?

So, take the last few hours before voting opens to take another look at your favorites. Maybe get to a library or bookstore to find the ones you have missed.

Here’s the schedule. All times listed are Eastern Standard Time.

Right now! Discussion of books on ballot
9 a.m. Thursday, January 22 Ballot 1 open for voting
9 a.m. Friday, January 23 Voting on ballot 1 ends
Noon Friday, January 23 Ballot 1 results announced on Calling Caldecott
9 a.m. Monday, January 26 Ballot 2 opens
9 a.m. Tuesday, January 27 Voting ends
Noon Tuesday, January 27 Calling Caldecott mock vote results posted

 

At this point the Real Committee is busy rereading all their nominated books, making notes on what they appreciate and what concerns them. (Experience tells me that a lot of time will given to the concerns — a person has to be ready to defend against others’ concerns and to lay out their own concerns in a way that the others can hear. Minds will have to be changed!) The real committee starts face-to-face deliberations on Friday, January 30, so they are down to the wire, just like we are here.

And here, we would love to hear your pleas for your favorite books — use the comment section below! See you when you vote tomorrow!

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The year in review http://www.hbook.com/2015/01/blogs/calling-caldecott/year-review/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/01/blogs/calling-caldecott/year-review/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 17:00:24 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=45596 What a difference a year makes. Last year’s picture book crop included such a strong group of front runners that it was possible to…no, not predict, but at least anticipate some of the Caldecott choices. This year, it seems to me, the field is WIDE OPEN. And this year’s committee has quite a job in front of them. […]

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What a difference a year makes. Last year’s picture book crop included such a strong group of front runners that it was possible to…no, not predict, but at least anticipate some of the Caldecott choices. This year, it seems to me, the field is WIDE OPEN. And this year’s committee has quite a job in front of them.

What are some of the challenges they’re facing? (Obviously this is not a comprehensive list. Not even close. Tip of the iceberg. Hang in there, actual Caldecott committee.) Let’s review.

  • They may be considering a whole slew of sequels (or at least second, similar books) by some of the big names of 2013: Molly Idle’s Flora and the Penguin; Aaron Becker’s Quest; Lizi Boyd’s Flashlight; Paul O. Zelinsky’s Circle Square Moose. How will the committee handle the temptation not to compare these with their predecessors?
  • In good news for the field, we’ve seen several excellent science nonfiction picture books, including: Katherine Roy’s Neighborhood Sharks; Molly Bang’s Buried Sunlight; Jason Chin’s Gravity. These must all be considered long shots for the Caldecott, since there is not much precedence for nonfiction winning the Caldecott, let along SCIENCE nonfiction. But we all know that just because picture books look like Sibert contenders doesn’t rule them out for the Caldecott, right?
  • The rise in popularity and prevalence of picture-book biographies means that quite a few biographies (or picture books based on real people or events) may make an appearance on the Caldecott table this year: perhaps Melissa Sweet’s The Right Word; Christian Robinson’s Josephine; Yuyi Morales’s Viva Frida; Hadley Hooper’s The Iridescence of Birds; Peter Sis’s Pilot and the Little Prince; E.B. Lewis’s All Different Now… Such different treatments for such a variety of subjects: how will the committee navigate amongst them?
  • And after last year’s wordless-book Caldecott triumph (all three Honor books were virtually wordless, you remember: Flora and the Flamingo, Mr. Wuffles!, and Journey), the committee will surely be paying attention to the wordless 2014 picture books, which are numerous, and include: Raul Colon’s Draw!; Marla Frazee’s The Farmer and the Clown; Mark Newgarden and Megan Montague Cash’s Bow-wow’s Nightmare Neighbors; Mark Pett’s The Girl and the Bicycle; and the previously mentioned Flashlight, Flora and the Penguin; and Quest. A herculean task, indeed, to decide how these compare to one another, let alone to all the other picture books with texts. 
  • There’s also the conundrum of “picture book” versus “illustrated book.” How will the committee categorize the poetry books that might be under consideration — Sweet’s Firefly July; or Rick Allen’s Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold; or Gary Kelley’s Harlem Hellfighters? Because each poem, and thus each page or spread, is complete unto itself, is there an implied page turn in these books? Is there enough cohesion in the pictures and enough tension in the trajectory to consider each a picture book?
  • Once again, there are a number of artists with multiple “entries”: Melissa Sweet, Christian Robinson, Barbara McClintock, Sergio Ruzzier, Sophie Blackall, and Lauren Castillo, to name a few. How does that affect the committee? Do they feel they need to choose between an artist’s books? Or does each book stand alone?

And speaking of standing alone: in fact, of course, the Real Committee’s job is to NOT pigeonhole books the way I’ve done here — instead, to look at each book individually and to judge each one on its own merits. But I can’t imagine it will be easy. (Is that the understatement of the year?) Our own mock ballot goes up this Thursday; Robin will introduce it tomorrow. So you will need to face some of these same challenges as you make your own choices and vote for your top three picture books of the year. Good luck, one and all.

 

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Bad Bye, Good Bye http://www.hbook.com/2015/01/blogs/calling-caldecott/bad-bye-good-bye/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/01/blogs/calling-caldecott/bad-bye-good-bye/#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2015 17:00:49 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=45610 You know that feeling that you’ve missed something? Well, I had that feeling last week when I pulled out the titles for my class’s mock Caldecott. I blithely grabbed Bad Bye, Good Bye and thought, “Uh-oh. I never wrote about this one, did I?” In true Robin Smith fashion (ask any of my editors what […]

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badbyegoodbyecoveruseYou know that feeling that you’ve missed something? Well, I had that feeling last week when I pulled out the titles for my class’s mock Caldecott. I blithely grabbed Bad Bye, Good Bye and thought, “Uh-oh. I never wrote about this one, did I?” In true Robin Smith fashion (ask any of my editors what a procrastinator I am), here I am, just under the wire, to chat about this fine book.

I first read about this book months and months ago when Jules Danielson interviewed the illustrator, Jonathan Bean, here on her blog. Go and read the link, because his explanation of color separation (old school!) is interesting and clear. In the comments are technical questions about brayers and Prismacolors and friskets. I got lost there for a little bit.

Here’s the skinny:

  1. I love the emotional intensity of the illustrations — even the endpapers start with a very dark blue-black and end with a sunny yellow. The title page shows one angry boy glaring at the moving man. Even his dog is furious. The stripes on the boy’s shirt are parallel with the spine of the dog, leaving no question about how these two are feeling about their family’s move to a new town and new house. The background shows the movers moving at full speed, rendered only in pencil. The title is placed on the page a little wonky, implying movement. The page turn shows the boy redder even than before—all the way to his scarlet scalp! We all know that feeling.
  2. That anger has to abate, of course, and the long nap in the car and dip in the motel pool seem to be a turning point for everyone. By the time the family arrives in the new town, after mom and dad take turns behind the wheel, everyone seems ready for the new house. Even the movers seem to have happy energy.
  3. The illustrations deftly extend the spare, rhyming couplets. I especially appreciate the “Road games /We’re here” page. It’s a brilliant interpretation of the alphabet game we always played in the car to pass the time. Bean draws a variety of signs with just about every letter of the alphabet shown, including q in antique. Another spread (“New house/New wall/New room/New wall”) shows that creepy feeling when you walk into an empty house or apartment for the first time. Everything is still in boxes and the illustrations are layered with the details that add to that strange feeling: the lone light hanging from the ceiling in the hall, other people’s wallpaper, stacks of chairs and boxes marked “pots” and “sheets.” Seeing the boy cautiously opening all the doors, one at a time, brings me right back to all my Army brat moves.
  4. The happy resolution is just right, too: this is a book for the very young reader, and it needs to be comforting. It is — right down to the fireflies, a neighbor boy who will clearly be a friend, and a climbing tree.

There is a lot going on in these illustrations, inviting the reader to slow down and explore every inch of the page. That also allows committee members lots to talk about: artistic technique, satisfying page-turns, and emotional punch. It would also make a dandy book for new readers. Geisel and Caldecott committees, pay attention to this one!

 

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Nana in the City http://www.hbook.com/2015/01/blogs/calling-caldecott/nana-city/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/01/blogs/calling-caldecott/nana-city/#comments Thu, 15 Jan 2015 17:00:34 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=45410 This is a JUST RIGHT kind of book. Just the right size; just the right tone; just the right scope of experience/adventure for the audience. How does Lauren Castillo accomplish this just-rightness in the art? 1) Through the use of color. In the beginning she communicates the noise and smells and sheer overwhelming-ness of the big […]

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nana in the cityThis is a JUST RIGHT kind of book. Just the right size; just the right tone; just the right scope of experience/adventure for the audience.

How does Lauren Castillo accomplish this just-rightness in the art?

1) Through the use of color. In the beginning she communicates the noise and smells and sheer overwhelming-ness of the big city through dark colors: watercolor washes of browns and black charcoal-like shading. Bright yellow and greens communicate bustle and action. The lack of color (on the page where Nana and the boy first approach Nana’s apartment building) communicates sterility and the intimidating feeling of those tall looming buildings. And of course the use of red throughout the book is absolutely perfect. From the start, touches of red focus our attention: the numeral 1 on the subway; the policeman’s stop sign; the teapot and teacup. Nana knits the boy a red cape to make him brave, but observers will note that Nana is also outfitted in red, from her hatband to her handbag to her boots. There’s a natural and built-in connection forged between adult and child here. And there’s a point of discussion: is there an implication that Nana might need help being brave as well?

2) Through her ability to convey the sense of a large city in a book with quite a small trim size. (Which I love, by the way. The small size and square shape of the book communicates safety, harmony, manageability. The story would have been dwarfed in one of those oversize celebrate-the-city kind of picture books.) Castillo’s story is a small one, but it doesn’t happen in isolation. The presence of the city is always there in the background, in black-and-white sketched-in cityscapes (that look almost like coloring-books pages before they’re colored in) or less-detailed blocked-out buildings; she gives us the whole city without taking our focus off the characters and the main action. (She uses the same technique in other places in the book as well: note Nana sitting on her coach as she begins to knit the boy his red cape. The sofa is only sketched in, like the cityscapes, keeping our attention solely on Nana and her knitting.)

3) Through the tactile quality of the art. The combination of the watercolor and what looks to be some kind of charcoal rubbing (but might be something entirely different; I’m just guessing!) gives the art such texture and immediacy.

I have to admit I’m a leetle disappointed in the endpapers. I thought they might have changed from green (in the beginning) to red (at the end), just like Nana’s two knitting projects. But I am sure the illustrator and publisher gave much thought to it. So please help me with this (admittedly) tiny little quibble.

This book is not a shouter. It’s a small domestic story, with a quiet narrative arc, for very young children. Therefore, given the history of this award, it doesn’t scream Caldecott. What will be its chances on the table at the end of this month?

 

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The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse http://www.hbook.com/2015/01/blogs/calling-caldecott/iridescence-birds-book-henri-matisse/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/01/blogs/calling-caldecott/iridescence-birds-book-henri-matisse/#comments Wed, 14 Jan 2015 17:00:51 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=44026 Waaay back in January 2014, I saw this book. Hadley Hooper’s art blew me away. It still does. (And here Joanna Rudge Long reviews it for The Horn Book.) Henri Matisse is presented as a youngster, growing up in a dreary gray town. His mother introduces color to his life as she paints plates, arranges […]

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maclachlan_iridescence of birdsWaaay back in January 2014, I saw this book. Hadley Hooper’s art blew me away. It still does. (And here Joanna Rudge Long reviews it for The Horn Book.)

Henri Matisse is presented as a youngster, growing up in a dreary gray town. His mother introduces color to his life as she paints plates, arranges fruit and flowers, hangs locally made rugs on the walls, and allows her little boy to raise pigeons, with their iridescent colors.

The text consists solely of two conditional questions (one very, very long), starting with the words, “If you were a boy named Henri Matisse…” (More on that later.)

The star here is the art. My goodness, it is stunning. A combination of relief printmaking and digital art, the art feels homemade and warm and heartfelt as we learn all that went into helping the boy Henri become the artist Henri Matisse. The opening spread is all blue-gray and straight lines. Even young Henri seems to be marching in time through the “dreary town in northern France.” But the moment his mother starts painting, Henri’s world begins to come to life. The blank white walls are now dotted with gorgeous painted plates, and Henri revels in the joy of mixing paints for his mother. Color comes into his life and into the town, and each page turn brings new colors and new experiences of that color. Henri is always at the heart of the story, taking it all in. Later in the story, when the grownup artist arrives on the right side of a ladder (and his little boy self is on the left), his art is shown to be a direct result of all his mother introduced him to as a child (plants, fruit, pigeons, light, movement).

It’s all delicious. I love it.

My only little concern is the text. That long, long first conditional sentence is a lot to hold onto for the young reader. My class loved the art and wanted to read more about Matisse. (I had two of the books from MacLachlan’s bibliography in my room.) However, they were a bit confused when they tried to read it themselves or follow the story when I read it. Perhaps it’s for an older audience? Or perhaps some child readers need an adult to tell a bit more? (Which is just fine.) My adult book club friends read this aloud and it was poetic and calming, especially the penultimate wordless spread that leads to “And the iridescence of birds?”

Here is what the Caldecott manual says about text: “Each book is to be considered as a picture book. The committee is to make its decision primarily on the illustration, but other components of a book are to be considered especially when they make a book less effective as a children’s picture book. Such other components might include the written text, the overall design of the book, etc.”

I do not think the text is weak at all. I don’t even think that the text makes it less effective as a children’s picture book. It’s just a bit of a challenge for very young readers. That’s all. Have any of you read this with children? If so, how old? And how did it work?

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But back to the art. The Art. The art is magnificent. And I appreciate that gentle art more each time I look at it.

The end notes from both the author and the illustrator added a lot to my understanding of Matisse’s story and how the art for this book was created. I, like my students, wanted to know more — more about this French mill town, more about Matisse’s mother, and more about the beautiful word iridescence. When a book makes you want to know more, that’s always a very good thing.

 

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Mock Caldecott results? Share right here http://www.hbook.com/2015/01/blogs/calling-caldecott/mock-caldecott-results-share-right/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/01/blogs/calling-caldecott/mock-caldecott-results-share-right/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 17:00:27 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=45320 It’s less than a month before the Awards Announcements, but it’s not too soon to hear results of mock Caldecott deliberations. Many libraries host meetings where readers discuss books and vote on their winners. It’s impossible for us to keep up with all of the results, but we do want to know all about your […]

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It’s less than a month before the Awards Announcements, but it’s not too soon to hear results of mock Caldecott deliberations. Many libraries host meetings where readers discuss books and vote on their winners. It’s impossible for us to keep up with all of the results, but we do want to know all about your mock committees.

Do you run a mock committee or participate in one? Please take a moment and pop the results in the comments below. People like to know which books made your discussion list and which books were recognized after the votes were counted.

Right now, I am trying to decide how many books I want my second graders to talk about. We start the talking next week, with each child presenting one title to the full class. I will report the results right here. Voting in my classroom will occur on the last Wednesday of January. It’s usually a bit of a emotional roller coaster.

Please share your mock Caldecott results and encourage your librarian friends to share, too. Every time you mention a title we have not discussed on this blog, my stomach sinks a little bit. That should be incentive enough.

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My Grandfather’s Coat http://www.hbook.com/2015/01/blogs/calling-caldecott/grandfathers-coat/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/01/blogs/calling-caldecott/grandfathers-coat/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 17:00:52 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=45174 Heart-on-sleeve confession about My Grandfather’s Coat: I cannot read this book without crying. Some days even thinking about it makes me weepy. It’s not like anything bad happens (the grandfather doesn’t die!), and the tone is neither wistful nor melancholy. It’s such a joyful book, and then oy vey! The emotion sneaks up. The first […]

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aylesworth_my grandfather's coatHeart-on-sleeve confession about My Grandfather’s Coat: I cannot read this book without crying. Some days even thinking about it makes me weepy. It’s not like anything bad happens (the grandfather doesn’t die!), and the tone is neither wistful nor melancholy. It’s such a joyful book, and then oy vey! The emotion sneaks up.

The first time I read it, I thought, “Well, that’s a nice little story.” The second time, some months later: “Huh. I didn’t remember such richness.” And then I read it aloud to my son. Start the waterworks. The scene near the end where the (great)grandfather carries the sleepy child up to bed? Bawling. (The expression on my kid’s face was that cross between confusion and bemusement with a little terror thrown in; that look they get when a grownup does something inexplicable or out of character.)

But enough about me: let’s talk about Barbara McClintock. And what I think of her art. (So I guess back to me.) For my taste, her work can be a little precise and pretty. It has nothing to do with her prodigious skill – I just tend to like my picture books a little on the messier side. But here? It’s perfection. It’s the tiny details that tell the story in those fabulous vignettes – the facial expressions, the sewing equipment, the Judaica, and always that piece of cloth that started as the grandfather’s coat. And McClintock’s pacing: those smaller spot illustrations of daily life and the larger images of Big Life Events; those intimate moments – birth of a child, for example, and the learning-to-ride-a-bike sequence. It’s all the things that change and all that stays the same, while the text, comforting pattern or no, moves ever onward until “There was nothing left at all. Nothing, that is, except for this story.” (And now I’m teary eyed… even though that’s a happy thing, right?!)

Drawing from the same source material, Simms Taback won the 2000 Caldecott Medal for Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, but that may be where the comparison begins and ends (and in any case, the sames and differents are a moot point for the committee). Taback’s take on the traditional Jewish folksong could not be more different: it’s silly, colorful, ebullient, and decidedly for a younger audience (those cute die-cuts and funny animals). The Aylesworth/McClintock version is quiet, understated, beautiful; it’s something a reader can revisit as the years pass, bringing a different understanding or a new perspective, noticing small details or asking big questions. Or just, you know, enjoying the time with their mothers, fathers, grandparents, even their own children someday… *sniff sniff.*

I never felt Cats-in-the-Cradle-ed because the pictures are so cheery and the emotion comes naturally – it’s brought by the reader (i.e., my own mishigas), not imposed by the book. And my kid likes it – he enjoys poring over the pictures, and he thinks the text is funny. But: am I being too much of a sap? Or do people love this book as much as I do?

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