Subscribe to The Horn Book

The Nonsense Show


The line between silliness and nonsense is fine but important, with the former largely random and self-generated, like a kid spinning in circles while intoning “I’m HILARIOUS” over and over. Nonsense is trickier: incongruity laid bare by juxtaposition with the world as we expect it to work. And in The Nonsense Show‘s series of eighteen double-page spreads, Eric Carle demonstrates […]

Top five picture books?


It’s time to weigh in with your top five picks for the 2016 Caldecott Medal! Last week, 2015 Caldecott committee member Susan Kusel reminded us what it’s like to be on the Real Committee this time of year, as members submit their seven allowed nominations. And Robin wrote last year both about that nomination process and […]

Out of the Woods

Out of the Woods

As Martha could tell you, this post has been really difficult to write because I love this book so much and want to do it justice. Why hasn’t Rebecca Bond been on my radar? Well, now she is. Out of the Woods is a story first told by Bond’s grandfather about a forest fire he […]

The Whisper


Alice famously wondered, “What is the use of a book without pictures or conversations?” In The Whisper, Pamela Zagarenski asks readers to consider the use of a picture book without words. Having been lent a “magical book of stories” by her teacher for the night, the unnamed protagonist eagerly scampers home with it — only […]

This Is My Home, This Is My School

this is my home

Using the same setting and characters from his semi-autobiographical Building Our House (a 2013 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winner), Jonathan Bean portrays a typical day in the life of a homeschooling family in This Is My Home, This Is My School. Mr. Versatile, Bean changes his illustration style from book to book and does so […]



It’s a bit of a theme week here on Calling Caldecott: on Monday, Megan Lambert extolled the gifts found in Kevin Henkes’s Waiting; today, we also Wait. Antoinette Portis taps so perfectly into that universal tension between adults’ approach to experiencing the world (“Hurry!”) and a child’s (“Wait”). A tension made visually manifest on the cover, as the busy mother is moving forward […]



Many have praised Kevin Henkes’s artistic achievements in Waiting. The Horn Book review, for example, cites “confident brown outlines filled in with a muted palette of light greens, blues, and pinks in colored-pencil and watercolor.” While I recognize and laud such successes, I believe the criterion of “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child […]

Crunch time for the Committee is NOW


This is the time of year where everyone feels stressed by looming deadlines. Families coming for the holidays, last-minute gift decisions, year-end reports, and of course, final preparations for the Caldecott committee meetings. As a member of last year’s committee, I can tell you that December is a high-pressure month. The final round of nominations […]

Flop to the Top!

flop to top

After Jillian Tamaki received Caldecott recognition for the graphic novel This One Summer last February, you can bet your honor seals that people are looking closely at all types of picture books in 2015. One title that I hope this year’s Caldecott committee will bring to the table is Eleanor Davis and Drew Weing’s Flop […]

Funny Bones

funny bones

You know that skeleton woman with the big flowered hat? Guess what? Her name is la Catrina, and she wasn’t created by Russell Stover. You may not recognize the name José Guadalupe Posada, but you’re probably familiar with his most iconic illustration. La Catrina is everywhere these days, especially since el dia de los muertos […]