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We want to hear your mocks

We’ll get back to our own book discussions this weekend, but first we want to hear about any Mock Caldecotts you have led or participated in. If the results are in, what were they? If you have books you plan to discuss, share your list.

We’d love to let this blog be the repository for all Mock Caldecott results, not just the big library ones. Maybe you have a book group, an elementary school classroom, a children’s lit class. Use the comments to tell us about your group, your process, and the books.

Among other things, your answers will help us decide what to put on the ballot HERE. More about that later, but mark your calendars for Monday, January 16: the first vote.

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. Megan Lambert says:

    My graduate course on the Picture Book in the Simmons College satellite program at The Eric Carle Museum held a mock Caldecott debate during our last class meeting. The students chose: Grandpa Green as the Medal winner, and they also chose three honor books: Blue Chicken; Heart and Soul; Where’s Walrus. I should note that Blue Chicken was almost gold–it was a squeaker of a vote with one student giving an impassioned appreciation of Freedman’s skill with watercolors.

    Since I served on the 2011 committee with Robin, I was sort of charmed at how these choices had inadvertent echoes of ours in San Diego, with: a book about a gentle old man akin to Amos leading the pack (though this time with a topiarist’s affection for flora rather than a zookeeper’s for fauna); a book about a mischievous chicken recalling David Ezra Stein’s honor from last year; and then another about African American history making me think about our committee’s discussions about Dave. Given this thematic overlap, it was particularly funny to see Walrus showing up as the third honor from my class. That guy just muscles his way in everywhere, doesn’t he?

    Of course, as a non-voting facilitator of my class’s debate, I was sorry to see some other favorites of mine go without mock gold and silver. I can’t get me enough of Me…Jane. Balloons Over Broadway pulls at my heartstrings. I think Naamah and the Ark at Night is just dreamy. And Underground leaves me overwhelmed.

    And since the best part of being on a committee or participating in a mock one like this is listening to other people and suddenly seeing a book in new light (my student’s work around Blue Chicken is a case in point for me), I have to say that the class also raised great defenses of Bone Dog, I Want My Hat Back, All the Water in the World, Blackout, Stars, and Wonderstruck that greatly expanded my thinking.

    Thanks so much for providing this forum! I look forward to seeing what others have to say about their mock debates and how they do or don’t intersect with my class’s. And if any of you Simmons at The Carle students are lurking and want to weigh in on what I’ve reported here…please do.

  2. How did you guys decide on the honor books? The second, third and fourth place books? Having served on a few committees, I know the process for honor books is interesting.

    Thanks for a great list, Meghan. I wish we were doing it all over again.

  3. We just wrapped our Mock Caldecott up at Austin Public Library. We chose Grandpa Green as our Medal Winner and selected three Honor titles. These were A Nation’s Hope, Blackout, and I Want My Hat Back. It was such a productive discussion and so very meaningful to have the time to deliberate over picture book artwork. Taste is truly subjective and everyone sees different things in each title to cherish, I always hope that it is just the same with each and every reader, too.

  4. Megan Lambert says:

    Re: process Robin…

    We had a total of 14 books (down from 30 on the list I passed out to the class for consideration) as we started out. After presentations and debate over a potluck of lots of good food and wine we voted for the Medalist, weighting points for 1st choice, 2nd and 3rd. Gandpa Green eeked out first place over Blue Chicken by just ONE vote.

    Then all of the books that got votes in that round were eligible to go on to a round of honor votes. We were down to just seven titles by then. Again, we weighted votes with 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. A few people held out for titles that clearly didn’t have a lot of support, but in the end, the top three vote getters in this round had much more support than the other four. One person suggested that we have just a single honor book since Blue Chicken had by far the most, but the Walrus and Heart and Soul defenders howled their discontent and won out.

  5. Kevin Delecki says:

    I just took part in the Dayton Metro Library’s Mock Caldecott, led by the incomparable Floyd Dickman. We started with a list of 55 books and 30 Children’s Librarians. After hours (literally, like 4 hours) of looking and discussing, the overwhelming winner was Grandpa Green. This was followed by Blue Chicken, I Want My Hat Back, and Me…Jane, who were all close to each other, but no where near Grandpa Green.

    It was fun to participate in the Mock, but I have to say – I miss discussing these books with Robin and Megan! (and, of course, all of the other wonderful people on the 2011 Caldecott Committee!)

  6. Melody Allen says:

    The University of Wisconsin-Madison SLIS Children’s Literature class held a Mock Caldecott with two groups of 15 people balloting from a list of 24 titles. Both groups selected Grandpa Green as the winner. Group 1 gave honors to Blackout, and Group 2 gave honors to Me…Jane. Three other books did well in the voting – Say Hello to Zorro, Swirl by Swirl, and Wonderstruck. For those who think a single honor book means the group was split, this is not true in this case. Grandpa Green was the clear winner in both groups. Group 2 had a winner on the first ballot and did a separate honors ballot. Group 1 had a winner on the second round, so the honor book was selected from that ballot. This is an online course, so students submitted written nominations (one page for each of three titles), read all the nominations, and discussed online and in a videoconferencing session. The fascinating nominations were part of a graded assignment in which they were studying picture books.

  7. Oh, I love seeing Hello to Zorro on your list. We haven’t talked about it here, but I might put it on my class’s Mock Caldecott list in early January. The pacing is fantastic and the story is universal.

  8. At The Pike School in Andover, MA, we are in the middle of a mock Caldecott unit with our 3rd grade students. So far, we have read and discussed Perfect Square, Swirl by Swirl, Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat, and I Want My Hat Back. I haven’t decided if we’ll read Grandpa Green, Where’s Walrus, or Me…Jane for our final book. I aim for a variety of artistic media and a balance of genres in the 5 books I “nominate” — I also harbor a faint hope every year that one of “our” titles is named by the Committee!

    The kids were fascinated by the artwork in Swirl and were intrigued by the collage in Jonathan, but had the most fun with I Want My Hat Back. Our voting will take place the week before the actual announcement. This has been a great forum and I look forward to more insightful discussion in the coming weeks.

  9. Kevin,
    Were YOU happy with the outcome?
    I miss everyone–and the conversations around the table–so much. Thank for weighing in.

    55 books to start with. Wow.


  10. Lolly Robinson Lolly Robinson says:

    I’m intrigued by Grandpa Green’s early (mock) lead and would love to hear more about your discussions re: audience. How did the nostalgia factor play into your discussion, if at all. My gut reaction to this as an adult is that its child appeal is limited. But then I remembered that my own grandmother, a retired boarding school teacher, lived with us when I was little and I was weirdly interested in aspects of her pre-retirement life.

    There’s lots to admire about Grandpa Green, but it still strikes me as the kind of book that wins BECAUSE there’s so much to talk about. Other books this year are less flashy but just as worthy. I’m always happiest when the committee awards a book that has both simplicity and subtlety.

  11. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    I too have been surprised. My friend Jen (avid reader and teacher/librarian) was here this weekend and she wondered if kids (8-10 years old) would make the connections to all the little bit and bops in the topiary. Most of their grandparents are in their 60s, not WW1 or WWII veterans at all. There IS a lot to talk about, though.
    I thought the results would be all over the place. I hope more and more people chime in as they run their mock elections.

  12. Melody Allen says:

    In the discussions I heard, the feeling was that children would follow the pictorial story line of the boy finding and picking up items left behind by the grandfather. There would also be interest in identifying the various topiary and telling the stories behind them, especially on the fold-out spread. The criteria only ask for a child audience, which does not need to be large. The criteria focus on how the art conveys the theme, plot, characterization, setting, etc. It is a good point about the age of grandparents and their era since those who fought in WWI would be in their 90s. Is there anything that places the boy in the present? Both could be in historical periods. I can’t remember any power or modern tools.

  13. At the Arapahoe Library District, we visited staff meetings and showed Caldecott potential books and asked staff to vote for favorites. The top choices are up as a poll on our website, and the poll is open to public voting. Feel free to vote!
    Top picks from staff? Say Hello to Zorro and Swirl by Swirl.

  14. Pat Stephenson says:

    We had about 150 third grade students reading almost 50 possible Caldecott books. The winner was Where’s Walrus by S. Savage…..Honor books: Blue Chicken, I Want My Hat Back & Ten Rules You Absolutely Must Not Break You Want to Survive the School Bus.
    Each students vote counted.

  15. Melody Allen says:

    I have reviewed Grandpa Green regarding age questions because it seems to come up and a student asked about it. First, the flyjacket says that the boy is his GREAT-grandson, not grandson, and second, I see nothing to suggest that the war couldn’t be WWII. He meets the wife in Paris, so it could not be any war after that. The only time frame I see specifically mentioned in the text is that he was born before television and married right after the war. So if he was born in maybe 1925 and married in 1946 at 21 and had a child in 1948 (grandfather) and he had a child in 1974 (father) and he fathered the boy in the story in 2004, the boy would be 7 today. Grandpa Green would be 86 today (or when he died). So I can get that to make sense. I don’t know where the question came from that the grandfather was in WWI or why grandpa can’t refer to a great-grandfather. So if I were on the committee, I think I could dispel any concerns about time frame. The question about child audience would be answered more personally by each committee member, but there have been other winners with limited audiences and my students have argued that the subplot of the boy picking up stuff and the fun of seeing what topiary comes on the next page are appealing to children. I think they make a good case. While this book is in my top three, it is currently not my personal number one. It is a rich book up to the standards of the Caldecott criteria in my opinion for distinguished execution and delineation of plot, character, setting, theme, etc. through the illustrations.

  16. Catherine Skrzypek says:

    The Brooklyn Public Library held its Mock Caldecott this morning. The discussion was spirited and thoughtful, and the results were somewhat surprising. Our winner was “Blackout” by Brooklyn-based illustrator, John Rocco. Our Honor books were “A Ball for Daisy” by Chris Raschka and “Never Forgotten” ill. by (long-time Brooklynites) Leo and Diane Dillon, written by Patricia McKissack. There were a total of six titles on our shortlist. The other contenders were, “Grandpa Green”, “I Want My Hat Back”, and “Stars”.

  17. Carla Kozak says:

    A small group of San Francisco Bay Area authors, illustrators, librarians, and booksellers held a Mock Caldecott discussion on January 5. From the list below, our Honor books were Stars and Where’s Walrus, and our winner was Me…Jane.

    Brother Sun, Sister Moon: Saint Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Creatures Paterson, Katherine Pamela Dalton Handprint
    Drawing From Memory Say, Allen Say, Allen Scholastic
    Grandpa Green Smith, Lane Smith, Lane Roaring Brook
    I Want My Hat Back Klassen, Jon Klassen, Jon Candlewick
    If Rocks Could Sing: A Discovered Alphabet McGuirk, Leslie McGuirk, Leslie Tricycle
    Mouse & Lion Burkert, Rand Burkert, Nancy Ekholm Michael Di Capua
    Me….Jane McDonnell, Patrick McDonnell, Patrick Little, Brown
    Naamah and the Ark at Night Bartoletti, Susan Campbell Holly Meade Candlewick
    Stars Ray, Mary Lynn Marla Frazee
    Swirl By Swirl: Spirals In Nature Sidman, Joyce Beth Krommes Houghton Mifflin
    The House That Baba Built Young, Ed Young, Ed Little, Brown
    Underground Evans, Shane W. Evans, Shane W. Roaring Brook
    Where’s Walrus Savage, Stephen Savage, Stephen Scholastic

  18. In Rhode Island, we held our mock Caldecott program today. We started the day with 31 books on our list. After an initial round of voting, we limited our discussion to 15 books. Then, Cheryl Kirk Noll, a local illustrator and instructor in the RI School of Design CE program for illustration gave us a wonderful introduction to the Caldecott criteria, using illustrations from medal-winning books. She shared an artist’s insight about perspective, line, focus, movement, excellence in execution, etc. After that, we discussed the 15 books and came up with one winner and two honor books:

    Grandpa Green

    Me … Jane

    Grandpa Green and Me…Jane were neck-and-neck for a long time, until our final vote when enough people transferred their support to Grandpa Green.

    We had a great time!

  19. Lolly Robinson Lolly Robinson says:

    I’m so glad these Mock Caldecott results are still coming in and I especially like hearing about your processes. Cheryl, what a good idea to have an artist speak to your group. Was this at a public library?

  20. Having an artist’s voice is so important to this process and I wish I could have been there to see what Cheryl Kirk Noll used as examples. When I was on the committee, we were all encouraged to work with artists and art professors wherever possible. I think your choices show quite a range.

  21. Thanks, Lolly and Robin.

    We held our meeting at a public library, but the attendees included public librarians from around the state (RI is small!), a few school librarians, one URI library school student, and one illustration student (brought by Cheryl Kirk Noll). It was great to have the mix of participants.

    Cheryl Kirk Noll presented at our Mock Caldecott last year as well, but I met her when I invited her and five of her illustration CE students to present a professional development workshop for us on the art of the picture book. After Cheryl presented her “picture book 101” slide show, the illustration students shared their book-making process – from developing their ideas to creating dummies to final illustrations (and everything in between). One of the students had a published book, but the rest of the presenters shared their final projects with us.

    As a librarian, I have had a hard time developing the visual skills (and language) for evaluating picture books. I look at a book and know that it “works” for me (this tends to be around great read alouds to share with kids), but I struggle to nail down and discuss the details from the artwork (and how it adds to the entire picture book experience, melding art and text).

    This blog, and how the two of you discuss the books, has been a wonderful learning experience for me. Thank you both! I hope you’ll do this again next year, too.

  22. Our 61 Second Graders are in the middle of our Mock Caldecott and just did their nominations for finalists. We started with about 50 books that they examined for several weeks on their own. The first six in the following list had the most nominations and the second six I had to consider ratings (children rated what they read from 1-5 as they went) in order to decide.

    1. THE GINGERBREAD MAN: LOOSE IN THE SCHOOL (a clear favorite so far)
    11. ORANI

    Our final vote will not be until just before the announcement but I will update with our winner!

  23. Debra Cardone says:

    I am interested in your mock Caldecott unit with 3rd graders. Did each child receive a ballot for voting? Did you give the criteria for voting?
    Debra Cardone, Head Librarian
    Hamlin School
    San Francisco, CA

  24. Susan Dailey says:

    On Friday, January 13th, 26 people attended an all-day Mock Caldecott workshop at the Carmel Clay Public Library in Indiana. The participants came from public and school libraries, as well as a college and preschool. The day started with a list of almost 100 books and offered a wonderful collection development opportunity. After the initial vote, the list was narrowed to 31 books. These books were examined again and six finalist were selected. The illustrations in the finalists were carefully evaluated, discussed and defended with the following results:

    Grandpa Green illustrated and written by Lane Smith
    Blackout illustrated and written by John Rocco
    For the Love of Music illustrated by Steve Johnson & Lou Fanchar, written by Elizabeth Rusch
    Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell

  25. The Licking County Library in Newark, Ohio held its Mock Caldecott on Saturday, January 14th. Our participants included both children and adults. Library staff selected a list of 15 books to feature at the program. We began with a quick introduction to the Caldecott (history, criteria, etc.), then library staff briefly presented each of the books. The bulk of the program time was for participants to look at each of the books and discuss them amongst themselves. When everyone had looked at each book, we voted. There was a clear winner, but we had to re-cast ballots for honor books. Here are the results:

    Brother Sun, Sister Moon by Katherine Paterson, illustrated by Pamela Dalton

    Honor books:
    Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Stacy Innerst
    Naamah and the Ark at Night by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, illustrated by Holly Meade
    Where’s Walrus? by Stephen Savage

  26. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    So, just in case you think the Mock Caldecotts are over, my class is deep into their discussion today. Their vote will happen later in the day and I will let you know how it goes. Though we have looked and looked at these books over the course of the year, I love hearing someone say, “Why did he draw ground on every page, but this page it looks like bear is flying? There is no ground!”
    My answer, “Why do you think Klassen did that?”
    I love this kind of discussion with 7 and 8 year olds!

    Here are other things I am overhearing:
    “This is a good book and we don’t want to ruin it with all these concerns!”
    “This would be a perfect book if the mouse didn’t look like a chipmunk.”
    “What do we do if there are no concerns?”
    “I always cry on this page.”


  27. Lolly Robinson Lolly Robinson says:

    Have you all seen the ScrippsNews report on likely Caldecott and Newbery contenders? Calling Caldecott gets a shout-out there, too.

    (In case comments can read HTML, I’ll try to put in an actual link, too:

  28. Lolly Robinson Lolly Robinson says:

    Have you all seen the ScrippsNews report on likely Caldecott and Newbery contenders? Calling Caldecott gets a shout-out there, too.

  29. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    So, my second grade class voted–it took two ballots, but here are the results:

    Winner: Blackout by John Rocco (which was a bit of a surprise based on the discussions)

    Balloons Over Broadway
    Grandpa Green

    We considered all the books that we discussed on Calling Caldecott.

  30. Ariel Richardson says:

    The Children’s Group here at Chronicle Books held our Mock Caldecott yesterday. We started by going over the terms and criteria, and talking about how the actual committee works. Then we discussed each book by following the CCBC discussion guidelines.

    Here was our shortlist:
    GRANDPA GREEN by Lane Smith
    I WANT MY HAT BACK by Jon Klassen
    ME… JANE by Patrick McDonnell
    WHERE’S WALRUS? by Stephen Savage
    MOUSE & LION by Rand Burkert and illustrated by Nancy Ekholm Burkert
    UNDERGROUND by Shane W. Evans
    STARS by Mary Lyn Ray and illustrated by Marla Frazee
    NAAMAH AND THE ARK AT NIGHT by Susan Campbell Bartoletti and illustrated by Holly Meade

    And here are our results:
    Medal: BALLOONS OVER BROADWAY by Melissa Sweet
    Honor: I WANT MY HAT BACK by Jon Klassen

    UNDERGROUND and GRANDPA GREEN were very close runners-up, but we decided just to name one honor book.

  31. Francesca says:

    Our third graders voted yesterday and today, and the clear winner was Grandpa Green. Here are some of their comments (taken verbatim): they liked the detail, the shading, the contrasting colors, and the perspective; the fact that it was a life story; and the use of the tree as a symbol. Several described the book as “imaginative” and “emotional.”

    Someone wondered about our process: students learned the basic criteria for eligibility and used guiding questions about the art and text (adapted from the in-depth criteria) to record observations and opinions in a journal. We had brief discussions after reading each book and had a final, extended discussion just before voting. Each student had an individual ballot and I used the tabulation guidelines posted here (thank you, Robin and Lolly!)

  32. My third grade class just completed their own mock Caldecott today with some interesting results. I definitely enjoyed being able to watch them go through this process, but was also sad to see some of my favorites (ALL THE WATER IN THE WORLD) get left by the wayside. Fortunately, I teach at the same school as Robin, so many of my students have gone through this process once before and have developed some pretty keen eyes in analyzing and discussing these books.

    After our first round of voting the students whittled the field down to BALLOONS OVER BROADWAY, BLACKOUT, BONE DOG, GRANDPA GREEN, ME…JANE, and WHERE’S WALRUS. The second round of voting gave us the following results:

    Honor: BLACKOUT
    Honor: BONE DOG

    GRANDPA GREEN and BLACKOUT both had considerable support from the beginning and so it wasn’t a surprise they shot to the top. There were a few other notable outcomes though. QUEEN OF THE FALLS, which hasn’t gotten a lot of publicity on this blog, garnered quite a bit of attention from my class and just missed the final cut. Also I was shocked that I WANT MY HAT BACK didn’t get a single vote even though the students really seemed to enjoy this selection. Overall, it was a great discussion and we are all now looking forward to the committee’s decision.

  33. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    Thanks for sharing, Adam. I love hearing that my former students still love looking closely at books.
    I keep thinking about the I WANT MY HAT phenomenon. I wonder if it’s because it somehow doesn’t seem important (or grown up??) enough for the medal, even though they laugh every time they read it? We will have to talk after I get back from Dallas.

    Thanks for mentioning those other books too–a few of my children loved the art in ALL THE WATER; let’s see what happens.

  34. Susan Dailey says:

    The Wells County Public Library in northeast Indiana hosted our annual Mock Caldecott workshop on Friday, January 20th. The 36 participants selected:

    Grandpa Green illustrated and written by Lane Smith
    Blackout illustrated and written by John Rocco
    Red Sled illustrated and written by Lita Judge

    I guess we were just feeling colorful with our “green, black and red” selections.

  35. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    Oh, The Red Sled. I finally bought a copy of that late in December. Great choice.

    I love the color coordination. The year I served on the Boston Globe Horn Book Committee, all our covers were blue.
    We realized it only when we stood the books up to be photographed.

  36. Nancy Eames says:

    The 39th annual Caldecott Read-In was held today at the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library (Ohio). A group of 25 teachers, librarians, and children’s book enthusiasts spent the day reading and evaluating 100 outstanding picture books published in 2011.
    And the Toledo “medal” goes to:
    Sea of Dreams illustrated and written by David Nolan

    Honor Books
    Grandpa Green illustrated and written by Lane Smith. (an almost tie for the medal!)
    Brother Sun, Sister Moon: Saint Francis of Assissi’s Canticle of the creatures illustrated by Pamela Dalton and written by Katherine Patterson.
    Peaceful pieces : poems and quilts about peace illustrated and written by Anna Grossnickle Hines.

    Even though our local choice does not influence the actual Caldecott Committee—it is always fun to try to predict the winner! We’ve been right 8 times in 39 years and have usually chosen some of the honor books.

    Looking forward to Monday morning,

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