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On holidays, busy lives, and procrastination

Oh, what has happened to us here at Calling Caldecott? Back in September, Robin and I set up a rigorous posting schedule only to find, a month later, that we were dealing with overwhelming time demands in other areas of our lives.

I am amazed by Jonathan and Nina over at Heavy Medal. They must have some kind of time-turner that allows them to go to work, read books, and write blog posts all at once.

Thank goodness for a four-day holiday. Or three days once the exhausting cooking day is over. I am happy to report that I now have some posts ready in the pipe-line, and — even better — renewed energy fueled by mornings without alarm clocks. Having time during the day to read and write (and clean and catch up with people and watch TV) was also a bonus.

We only have two months before the ALA awards are announced and — *gulp* — a LOT more books to cover. Can we do it? Have faith!

I am reminded of the first full day of deliberations when I was on the Caldecott Committee. The fifteen of us sat in a Marriott meeting room talking carefully and considerately about each book our chair picked up from the official pile of nominated books. We had two days — Friday and Saturday — to discuss everything. On Sunday we would need to vote, choose honor books, and write the press release by noon.

At 5 p.m. on Friday we had only covered about a quarter of the books. Oh, horror! But somehow we managed to face reality, ingest more caffeine and chocolate, and get it all done by 8 p.m. on Saturday. We just talked more concisely and critically, and we sure as heck weren’t being as careful not to offend anyone.

So this is what I want to pledge. With your help, we will cover as many books as we can in the next two months. Since making our initial list back in September, a lot more titles have come to our attention. I can’t promise that our lives will miraculously become less tangled, but we will put as many books as we can in front of you in this forum. Our posts might get shorter and we might post on more than one book at a time. Our main goal will be to get a conversation started and turn it over to all of you.

Are you with us? Which books would you MOST like to discuss here?


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. Strange! It must be the universe – I’ve been overwhelmed myself and came today to see what you both were up to for the first time since you first posted a few books. I think everyone can relate. I think we are with you – I am certainly.
    Looking forward to more books and discussions soon!

  2. Susan Dailey says:

    Thank you for fitting this into your busy lives. I’m not sure how you do it, but it is greatly appreciated! I have a few titles I’m hoping we find time to discuss:

    “Hueys in the New Sweater” by Oliver Jeffers, a NY Times Best Illustrated book

    “Red Knit Cap Girl” by Naoko Stoop, another NY Times Best Illustrated book

    “Unspoken” by Henry Cole. Yet another NY Times Best Illustrated book. I haven’t seen this one, but I’ve heard good things and am planning to order it.

    “Baby Bear Sees Blue” by Ashley Wolff was mentioned by Elizabeth Bird on an SLJ blog as a contender

    “Oh, No!” by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann. I understand that some people have an issue with the perspective. I heard Rohmann speak at the ALSC Institute and thought he was delightful, which might influence how I feel about his work though.

    “Because Amelia Smiled” by David Ezra Stein. I briefly saw the book, but haven’t had a chance to study it. I heard Stein talk about his technique at the Mazza Museum conference though. (Whenever I hear an author or illustrator talk about his work, I find that I appreciate it more.)

    “I Have a Dream” illustrated by Kadir Nelson. I love Kadir Nelson’s work (and I haven’t even heard him speak.) I would enjoy hearing what others think of this gorgeous book.

  3. I would love to discuss Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett & Adam Rex, The Monsters’ Monster by Patrick McDonnell, and House Held Up By Trees by Ted Kooser & Jon Klassen.

  4. How about LOOKING AT LINCOLN and THE CAMPING TRIP THAT CHANGED AMERICA? I haven’t read THE BEETLE BOOK or CHOPSTICKS yet, but both come highly recommended.

  5. I’m way late to the party here – not even fashionably late, but most-of-the-guests-are-gone-and-there’s-no-punch-left late – AND I’m also aware that I’m not a heavy-hittin’ commenter here, but I’m throwing caution to the winds and making a last-ditch plug for one of my favorite books of the past year, THE INSOMNIACS by Karina Wolf. I love everything about it; the sweet and original story, the color palette, the character design.

    It’s the little details that get me, too. The broken alarm clock lying amidst the books that the Insomniac family have been using for research. The anticipation on the faces of Mother and Mika as they await their dinner of nightshade vegetables. Father’s photographs, Mother’s nighttime yoga, the splashes of color provided by Mika’s scarf and the flowers on their nightly walks, Mother’s parasol (so she won’t get moonburn, I guess)…

    In specific, there are two two-page spreads that make stop and linger. The first, all the nocturnal animals they encounter on their trip to the woods. The second, the colony of bats. With just the text, you can imagine and even hear them as they take off for their nightly hunting. But the drawing of all those happy bats just seizes you, puts you in the feet of the family as they watch the bats fly off, and you feel the elation they must feel at watching all those little creatures zoom away.

    My favorite picture of all is the far-away shot of the three Insomniacs, lanterns held high, in the dark and Gorey-reminiscent forest. Though it’s a little spooky, THE INSOMNIACS shows that the dark and the nighttime don’t have to be scary; they can be beautiful and normal as well.

    That’s all from me. Just wanted to get that out there.

  6. Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that the illustrations are by the Brothers Hilts. What a dope.

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