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Our mock Caldecott ballot list

Robin and I have put our heads together and come up with a ballot of 15 books. On the real committee, once the ballot is decided there is more discussion before voting, so that’s how we will do it here. We’d like to hear lots of comments. Lurkers, it’s time to be heard! Be as specific and as persuasive as you can. Who knows, you just might bring some undecided voters into your camp.

I will post a link to the actual voting mechanism at 9 a.m. Monday morning and the poll will stay open until 9 a.m. Tuesday. Robin will tally the votes, and we’ll let you know the results later on Tuesday. If we need a second ballot, that will go up Wednesday morning. The goal is to announce a definitive winner and honor books by the end of the day Thursday.

Here is THE LIST:

A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka
Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet
Blackout by John Rocco
Bone Dog by Eric Rohman
Grandpa Green by Lane Smith
Great Migration: Journey to the North by Eloise Greenfield, illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist
Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes
Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell
Mouse & Lion by Rand Burkert, illustrated by Nancy Ekholm Burkert
Naamah and the Ark at Night by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, illustrated by Holly Meade
Neville by Norton Juster and G. Brian Karas
Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beth Krommes
Where’s Walrus? by Stephen Savage

Now go at it! (And yes, you may bitch about what we left off…)

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. And DO note the two titles Lolly and I have not talked about–Balloons Over Broadway and Mouse & Lion.
    We got them late, but we agreed they needed to be part of the list.

    Speak. Talk. Argue. Plead. Point out nicely.
    Use words like “appreciate” and “concern,” if you want to sound like a True Committee Member.

  2. Denise Kofron says:

    This is one of my favorite books of this year. I have already purchased copies as gifts for my grandson, grand-niece and others. That said; I believe it deserves serious consideration for the Caldecott. This book combines it all; it’s a biography; it tells a great story; and the illustrations and design are incredibly well done. We are introduced to young Jane and her stuffed chimpanzee, and how incredible is it that the Jane Goodall really did have a stuffed chimpanzee as a child! Actually I had one too – really, I did…his name was Jocko – but for some reason I ended up in the library and not Africa. We obviously dreamed different dreams.
    The cover art drew me right in. The “cartoon” photo of Jane pasted on to the jungle picture is a clue for things to come, a scrapbook of Jane’s life. Even the title’s play on words from the old Tarzan movies told me that this book would be fun. McDonnell’s pictures start out somewhat muted and become brighter as Jane begins to dream and pretend that she is in Africa. Along with the story are stamped images and drawings that give the reader the sense that they are looking at Jane’s own observances in her notebook. We see that Jane is fascinated by wildlife from an early age, and we learn that she dreams of working in Africa .And then, at the end …surprise – an actual photograph of the adult Jane and a chimp reinforce that this is a biography and that Jane’s story is real. How awesome is that?!
    I love McDonnell’s art work in this book. It was quiet, soft and inviting, very much like Jane herself. His technique in using his pictures along with scrapbook like stamps and Jane’s actual notebooks culminating in the photo proved that Jane’s dream came true. Jane was a part of this book! I felt connected to her. I loved the colors and the style of the pictures – the whole package!

    I really think Grandpa Green deserves to be at the least a Caldecott Honor book (mainly because I am really counting on Me…Jane being the winner, but I could compromise with the roles reversed.) The pictures really tell the story in this book, and the idea of the story being told in topiary is very creative. I used this in a Storytime and explained to the children what topiary is and they loved it. We made a topiary elephant for a craft. The first picture of the crying topiary baby with the irrigation water representing the baby’s tears sets the stage; the final 4 page spread that details Grandpa’s whole life in greenery. Grandpa Green is green and his vocation and his life are in the greenery of the garden. His great-grandson, in the end, follows in his footsteps. Great story! Great illustrations! II don’t see Grandpa Green being strictly a nostalgia book. It is a young boy who is telling the story of his great-grandfather’s life. I would hope that the story speaks to young children. The emphasis is on family and family bonds. Grandparents have a history and the fact that Grandpa Green’s story can be told via the topiary is very visual. I also think the book touches on aging, but does it very gently and the final spread of Grandpa Green’s life tells his story for everyone to remember. The pictures are luscious! I think it is so important for children to understand that Grandma and Grandpa were not always old…that they have a history. I think this book conveys that so well and in such a beautiful and endearing way. The elephant never forgets…nor should we. I think this book would encourage children to ask their grandparents about their life.

    Perfect Square Squares are not “square” – there I’m dating myself. This book is fun and colorful and creative. That said…my little ones will “get it” on one level…but I wonder if older children will take a look beyond the obvious. Don’t be square…re-invent yourself! Very cool!

    Blackout The concept idea of the book is a great one and the illustrations support the story. The picture book has a comic book/graphic novel feel and the use of the browns and yellows in the electric endowed city portray the heat whereas the dark colors of navy and black really convey the idea of a power outage very well. The sudden dark – a black page- plunges the reader into the dark and the next page reflects our eyes becoming a bit accustomed to the lack of light. The glow of the candles and the flashlight stand out, but the best picture was the spread of the starry sky when the family goes up to the rooftop. Study the pictures…especially Thomas Edison looking down on the page before the lights went out. Fun…and should be a contender!

  3. Lolly Robinson Lolly Robinson says:

    Denise –
    Wow! Thanks for this fast and comprehensive comment.
    Here is my top three list. I won’t elaborate now since I’ve already said why I like these, but I’ll probably join in the discussion later regarding how I think these stack up to others on the list.
    1. Me…Jane
    2. A Ball for Daisy
    3. Naamah and the Ark at Night

    A quick note to others who are thinking about commenting here: You don’t have to be as thorough as Denise! Short comments are good, too.

  4. jennifer laughran says:

    Me… Jane for winner

    I Want My Hat Back … honor
    Balloons Over Broadway … honor
    Over and Under the Snow (unnamed on list, and I am biased but…) … honor

  5. Lolly Robinson Lolly Robinson says:

    I loved Over and Under the Snow. There was one page, though, where I found the delineation between over and under — and what is where — a little confusing. It’s the one with the bear who looks as if he might be sleeping in a snow bank rather than in a den.

  6. Oh, Lolly, tipping your hand. I am still quite conflicted, I must say. It’s hard not to be all over the place when my second graders keep arguing with me and each other. I finally got a copy of Mouse & Lion and will weigh in when I get to read it s-l-o-w-l-y.

    Back later.

  7. Sam Bloom says:

    *deep breaths*

    Okay, no Underground. I can handle that. I have some CONCERNS (see, I’m using my kind words!) with the omission, but I can handle it. But no Wonderstruck??! **falls to the floor in a heap**

    Okay, seriously now: it seems like Grandpa Green is taking lots of Mocks, and it is indeed lovely. I love Swirl by Swirl – such amazing detail there (still don’t like all the smiley animals though). But I think if I couldn’t pick Wonderstruck (oh, how you cut me deep) I’d go with Heart and Soul. Kadir is a force of nature. My honors would go to Grandpa Green, Swirl by Swirl, and Where’s Walrus (because it’s so darn fun).

  8. From your list, I’d vote for:

    Naamah and the Ark at Night — great sense of movement, the way you can almost feel the rocking of the ark, the pacing and twitching of restless animals (one of my favorite spreads is the one with the big cats: “As restless animals prowl at night…”), and Naamah’s gentle swaying as she sings. The use of silhouette is fantastic, too.
    Where’s Walrus? — This book is just so much fun. I love (appreciate?) the colors, the humor, and the clean lines that give it a retro feel in all the right ways.
    Swirl by Swirl — scratchboard is such a great medium for showing texture. This book is beautifully detailed.

    A few that would also have my vote if they were on your list:
    Perfect Square — I appreciate this book’s simplicity and creativity
    Brother Sun, Sister Moon — Every time I look at this book, I am blown away by the intricacy of the artwork

    I’m looking forward to the results, both here and at the real thing! Our library is doing a mock Caldecott this weekend — my colleagues and I have narrowed our list down to 15 titles as well, so I was interested to see how much overlap there was between your list and ours (5 titles — the three I listed as my picks, plus Grandpa Green and I Want My Hat Back).

  9. If I were going just with your list, I would certainly vote for A Ball for Daisy. The art is technically brilliant, emotionally resonant, and tells a great story.

    Instead though, I will mention the three books not on your list that I absolutely would champion.
    Brother Sun, Sister Moon – sometimes, one can only recognize a virtuoso performance with grace and joy. The papercut art is splendid in every possible way, and every time I see it I am further humbled.
    Stars (Marla Frazee) is so luminous, and looks so very simple and artless. Instead it is layered and complex and very beautiful.
    All the Way to America, Dan Yaccarino. A veteran maker of books for children takes deceptively simple shapes and colors and makes a family story of immediacy and delight.
    Thanks for giving us the opportunity to talk about these books.

  10. Melody Allen says:

    A few thoughts – I think the question would come up with Heart and Soul as to whether it is an illustrated book vs. a picture book. A Nation’s Hope seems like a stronger Caldecott candidate to me for Kadir Nelson. Both wonderful books.
    Where’s Waldo – Did you notice that when Walrus dives, his bathing cap comes off, then the zookeeper’s hat comes off and his mustache turns up into a smile? To me this represents through the illustrations the turning point in both plot and character development as the walrus who has been wearing hats for roles played by other people finds his real role as himself and the zookeeper takes on a new role as showman instead of guard.
    Grandpa Green – so much to say – two plots with different styles of illustration converge – just before the fold-out spread, the tree with changing leaves is amazing symbolism and the boy hangs from the lowest branch like the latest member of the family’s genealogical tree.
    Me…Jane – My top choice right now. Mix of media brilliantly combined into a whole that moves smoothly from the young Jane to the adult Jane living out the childhood dream. Left pages relate to right pages, wonderful scrapbook/field notebook effect from cover on, great endpapers, amazing and seamless final three spreads. You want delineation of setting, character, plot, theme – it is all here.

  11. My personal favorite is “Blackout” and I hope I see it at least as an honors win. My money is on “Grandpa Green” because the illustrations are wonderful, imaginative, surprising, integral, and tell a story completely different from everything out there.

    Someone else above mentioned “Brother Moon, Sister Star” which is something quite spectacular and I’d be happy to see it win something.

  12. “Grandpa Green” is my top pick this season. From what I heard others say in regards to the Caldecott award is that book as a whole is examined. I second the other comments about this book and would add: that the elongated format of the book is reminiscent of a hedge; that the gatefold allows the reader to “open up/walk through” that hedge and see Grandpa Green’s entire life story. Serving in a public library, I shared this book with a first grade class. At the time they didn’t seem engaged. Since that time, I have shared some other titles on following visits. I would discuss the Caldecott Award and share a title that I felt had a possibility of winning: “Naamah and the Ark at Night,” “Stars,” and “Where’s Walrus.” This last title I shared just last week, and it was by far this particular first grade class’ favorite. However, what struck me was that they still remember “Grandpa Green” even after several months had gone by. I also shared this title with a friend whose husband was teaching a nursing course on demensia. He used it in his last class of the semester and told me that his students had an emotional reaction to its story. “Grandpa Green” just has to come away with the shiny gold medal next week. For me, it has Caldecott written all over it!

  13. Me…Jane- Winner (for many of the reasons as Denise. Yay nonfiction!)
    Stuck- Honor
    I Want My Hat Back- Honor
    Naamah and the Ark at Night- Honor

    Okay, so I know I’m going a little honor crazy but I just couldn’t decide which of these three was the best.

    Stuck- I as impressed with the way Jeffers uses the endpapers to foreshadow the “items” the boy uses to get his kite back. I also really enjoyed the way his illustrations and text were stylized to evoke the main character’s personality: sketchy and scattered. He also uses color brilliantly to evoke the character’s emotions. For example, on page nine the ladder’s stuck in the tree. We don’t know how he feels through the text, but we can tell he’s sad because he, the tree, the cat, and the ladder have all turned blue. In fact, Jeffers uses his pictures to add to the text all the time. My favorite part is when he has a “bright idea”, then he sees the light bulb and throws it in the tree. lol.

    I like I Want My Hat Back for many of the same reasons I liked Stuck. I love the way he uses the color red to highlight that the Bear’s emotion when he realizes he’s seen his hat. I love that he uses the illustrations to add to the text, especially when the reader realizes where the hat is before the character does. And I know this award is about the illustrations, but I know that a great text along with fantastic illustrations can boost the book up on the Caldecott list, and the text in this book is so fantastic and tight!

    Naamah and the Ark at Night is such a beautiful book in every single way. The illustrations are so lush and exquisitely designed. Meade sets such a calm tone with her choice of color and choice of the design. The way she includes silhouettes give the book such a peaceful tone. She literally lulls the reader to sleep with her pictures, which entwines with the text so marvelously. On a side note, it’s great to see a book with religious values not be heavy handed. The story of Noah’s Arc is such a great story, whether your faith lies in the Old Testament or not. This book is welcoming to everyone, and it’s really refreshing to see.

  14. oh oops! Stuck totally isn’t on the list… (but it should be obviously lol). But in that case Bone Dog gets my vote for an honor book. 😀

  15. Lolly Robinson Lolly Robinson says:

    I probably should have mentioned in the post itself that award ballots — both mock and real — are bound to contain disappointments. I remember that the first voting ballot when I was on Caldecott did not contain one of my favorites of the year. While that was heartbreaking for me, I had to acknowledge that this book simply didn’t have the numbers behind it. The larger the ballot, the more diffuse the voting, the longer you will be stuck in that room. I think our committee went to four ballots but maybe it was only three. Between ballots one and two, we were required to discuss again every book on the list and decide what would remain on the slate for the next vote. This was where we all had to decide whether we would be stubborn about our personal favorites or face reality. Some of the most persuasive and impassioned discussions happened between these ballots, but I’m happy to say we did not come to blows and ended up with a thorough respect for one another.

  16. I probably shouldn’t have read everyone’s choices here before listing mine. I’m terrible at picking just ONE winner!

    But I had some problems with Grandpa Green as much as I loved it, so I’m not voting for it.

    And since my comments are right after Lolly’s where she writes about disappointments, I must say I’m sad about seeing All the Water In the World not here.

    AND I’m sorry to see Mouse & Lion listed. I must confess that I haven’t looked at in detail yet. But – are we allowing ourselves to seriously consider ANOTHER rendition of that fable so soon after Jerry Pinkney’s magnificent book (and winner) from 2 years ago. Aren’t there enough fables that the author and publisher couldn’t choose a different one.

    OK, OK, I know I’m off topic. So here are my choices:

    Naamah and the Ark at Night & Me…Jane are tied for first. No matter how many times I vote in my one woman pole, I just can’t seem to get enough votes for one over the other! So glad the real committee is 15 (is it?)

    Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature
    Great Migration: Journey to the North

  17. What problems did you have with Grandpa Green? This is the book I have been looking at the longest and the one that keeps popping up on everyone’s Mock Caldecott voting and I would love to know what your concerns are.

    I bet the real committee, who will probably be talking about 30 or so books at the beginning of discussions, will discuss All the Water in the World and some of the others we have not been able to put on our list.

  18. Hi Robin, I’m going to look at it again and will send you back more specifics, but my general impression is that many of the topiary’s symbols are too old for the readers this book is intended for, unless the intended reader is adults. My son (5) missed most, even when I explained (for example, the WW I and the Paris romance, the chicken pox). He was intrigued by life-like bushes “carved”, as he put it, by a little boy and his great-grandpa.

    I think this book really appeals to adults on a visual and an emotional level. Did you read it to your kids at school? Did they like it and get it?

  19. great list , it really helps
    thanks for sharing Lolly Robinson

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  1. […] picked this one up after it made Calling Caldecott’s mock ballot list, and I’m glad I did. It’s one of those stories where the text tells the story but the […]

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