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NYT Best Illustrated list for 2011

The New York Times Book Review section this Sunday will feature their annual list of the 10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books. The posted the list early, so let’s hear what you all think.

*Along a Long Road, written and illustrated by Frank Viva (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

A Ball for Daisy, written and illustrated by Chris Raschka (Schwartz & Wade)

Brother Sun, Sister Moon: Saint Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Creatures, written by Katherine Paterson, illustrated by Pamela Dalton (Chronicle Books)

Grandpa Green, written and illustrated by Lane Smith (Roaring Brook Press)

Ice, written and illustrated by Arthur Geisert (Enchanted Lion Books)

I Want My Hat Back, written and illustrated by Jon Klassen (Candlewick Press)

Me … Jane, written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

*Migrant, written by Maxine Trottier, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault (Groundwood Books)

A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis, written by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Dial)

*A New Year’s Reunion, written by Yu Li-Qiong, illustrated by Zhu Cheng-Liang (Candlewick Press)


* Not eligible for the Caldecott because the illustrator is not resident in or a citizen of the US


Lolly Robinson About Lolly Robinson

Lolly Robinson is the creative director for The Horn Book, Inc. She has degrees in studio art and children's literature and teaches children's literature at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. She has served on the Caldecott and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committees and blogs for Calling Caldecott and Lolly's Classroom on this site.



  1. I am a huge fan of Isabelle Arsenault, whether she is an American or not! You all should run and order all her books. The first one I read was Spork–and I bet I bought ten copies! Every time I read it aloud to a new group, I love watching their reaction to the ending. Then I read her Emily Dickenson book and Migrant. I really need to round out the collection. Just stunning.

    Along a Long Road is also a favorite of mine this year. My Canadian dad would be so proud of his fellow Canadians!

    I would love to know why Kadir Nelson’s A Nation’s Hope beat out his Heart and Soul, though.

    We will be talking about some of these titles very soon. What do you think about this list? It’s always a big surprise to me every year.

  2. I’ve just got to say, I Want My Hat Back is my favorite book of the year. Wonderful illustrations, perfect pacing, and a punchline that knocks adults off of their chairs every single time. It will be a storytime staple for me for years. I think the illustrations are excellent – understated, with great use of white space. They compliment the story, and give just enough visual clues to help the youngest of readers and listeners. Klassen does a great job conveying a wide array of expressions with very minimal changes.

  3. I really appreciate that one, too, Kevin, and I plan to blab about it in the next few weeks. Have you read it with young readers? How do they handle the ending? Look for his newest, due out in January, called Extra Yarn. It’s written by Mac Barnett. You might recognize some familiar characters making a cameo appearance.

  4. It seemed to go a little over the head of most of the 3 and 4 year olds I’ve used it with – they just enjoyed the story itself, and the fact that the bear got his hat back. However, every adult in the room just about jumped out of their chair when I read the ending!

  5. Bill Kemps says:

    I’m really not an expert, and so I’m only expressing a personal opinion here. But how is it possible that Beth Krommes’ Swirl by Swirl doesn’t even rank among the TEN Best Illustrated Books of 2011? This artwork in this book is complex, imaginative, informative, and downright breathtaking.

  6. Lolly Robinson Lolly Robinson says:

    Bill, I wonder whether sometimes the NYT list is more about three people each putting up their favorite 3-4 books? I’d guess it varies from year to year, but I’d love to hear from someone who’s been on that committee. (Roger? Are you there?) Is voting even involved or is it looser? The Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, for example, have a three-person committee and the voting rules are quite loose. The Caldecott voting rules, on the other hand, require some math skills and several rounds of votes until there’s a clear winner.

  7. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    I’ve judged that three times, but there is a new children’s book editor there (Pamela Paul) and she might have changed things. Every time I did it the “voting” was very casual and consensus ruled more often than not. But I do remember having to put up a big fight for The Stinky Cheese Man.

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