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Beekle wins 2015 Caldecott Medal


The actual results are in. The Real Committee has spoken! And now it’s time for us all to cheer and mourn and weigh in (in the comments).

Here are the books the committee chose:

The Adventures of Beekle
written and illustrated by Dan Santat

Nana in the City written and illustrated by Lauren Castillo
The Noisy Paintbox by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mary GrandPre
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen
Viva Frida written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales
The Right Word by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki



  1. Lolly Robinson Lolly Robinson says:

    Wow! First of all: is 6 honor books a first? The most I remember is 5, but I think maybe the first years they had honor books there might have been a bunch. For me, this makes it even more interesting that The Farmer and the Clown wasn’t among them. But I have certainly seen some stuff on Facebook from people who really didn’t like that book — said they found it creepy because of the clown thing. I think clowns are creepy, too, but I like this book because it’s all about what was behind the clown paint.

    The book on this list that surprises me the most is The Noisy Paintbox. The whole color music thing is interesting, but I found the illustrations on the muddy side when the idea is that people who see colors for notes tend to see very clean colors. At least that’s what my musician friends who have this same condition say. I’ve never been one of those people.

    I am very happy with some of the committee’s other choices. The biggest pleasant surprise was Nana in the City. I didn’t think it had a chance but clearly this was the kind of committee that looked beyond the quietness of some books. Nice. I haven’t even read This One Summer yet, but I have to say I am glad to see another graphic novel being honored. Is this the first since Hugo Cabret? I loved Skim, so this one is going on my must read list.

    I wasn’t a big fan of Beekle but can certainly understand its child appeal and knew it had a lot of support in general. And I love that three of my very favorite books are honor books: Viva Frida, Sam & Dave, The Right Word. And Nana, of course, but I already mentioned that one.

    Can’t wait to hear what the rest of you say!

  2. Lolly, you will love This One Summer. I would say this is the first true Graphic Novel to win.

  3. This committee deserves nothing but the HIGHEST PRAISE!!! The highest there is!!!!!!!!!!! What a contradiction to last year’s group, who opted to go minimalist with the three honor books, in a year that was almost as rich as this one! So, I can confident say that NO, six (6) honor books does NOT water down the results!! I have this great and visionary committee to prove it!!!!

    Well, The Farmer in the Clown comes up MIA. I love Franzee’s entire body of work, and I like THE FARMER quite a bit. But it was NOT among my ten personal favorites, hence I do NOT mourn its absence. I was frankly surprised it did as well as it did in the Horn Book voting. Still I loved the unique idea of the book.


    The bottom line is that this committee gave SEVEN (7) Caldecotts, and that is really a time for celebration!!!

    How spectacular it is that Dan Santat was given the top prize for his magnificent THE ADVENTURES OF BEEKLE, as deserving a book as you’ll fine out there!! And I do so much adore THE RIGHT WORD, VIVA FRIDA, NANA AND THE CITY, THE NOISY PAINT BOX (how ironic that it came out of nowhere to top IRIDESCENCE OF BIRDS!?!?) and SAM AND DAVE DIG A HOLE. And where did THIS ONE SUMMER come from?? Nobody predicted it!!! Nobody. But what a fabulous surprise!!

    I must say I mourn the absence of DRAW!, a book by Raul Colon that took me a little while to warm up to. But it really did deserve to be in the winner’s circle. I am very sad it didn’t win at least an Honor. A DANCE LIKE STARLIGHT and FIREBIRD won Coretta Scott King awards, but they are masterpieces that would have been real nice for Caldecott recognition.

    But SIX (6) Honor books -all excellent three times over– and that fabulous BEEKLE.

    What’s there to complain about. This superlative committee let it all hang out, leaving the box to spread the wealth around.

    Kudos to them (seven times over!) !!!!!!!!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  4. Martha V. Parravano Martha V. Parravano says:

    Well, I guess I will have to eat my words regarding the unlikelihood of the Real Committee choosing 6 Honor Books! But I am happy to do so. Wowwww! It was a year that definitely supported that many honors. And I am *thrilled* for all of them, and for the winner. The committee made some brave choices, particularly in Viva Frida and This One Summer (which we here at the Horn Book categorized as YA, by the way. When we Fanfared it. So, not just the brave choice of a graphic novel but one for the upper end of the age spectrum!).

    But I won’t eat my words when it comes to Marla Frazee’s The Farmer and the Clown. I am still convinced that it is the most brilliant picture book of the year, and hugely disappointed that it was not recognized. We will never be privy to the committee’s discussion, but I hope it did not let extra-literary concerns (the creepiness of clowns? old men?) affect their decision.


  5. Lynn Van Auken says:

    Snowed in again this morning so I missed the fun of watching the awards with my assistant and student teacher in our school library. But I dragged my teenage daughter out of bed and she kept me company and knew enough about some of the award categories and books to share in my interest and excitement. 🙂

    I love the combination of predictables and surprises. I’ll be hustling over to our town library tomorrow to collect three of the honor books I don’t have in our collection. And although we’re a week behind our Mock Caldecott schedule because of all our snow days, I’m pretty sure Beekle will be our school favorite, so that will be great fun to share when the time comes.

    Does anyone know where I can get the description of Viva Frida as read by the Belpre Award presenter? My students will need some help appreciating that choice, and I’d be so grateful to have her words to help me talk about that book. Also, is this the first Caldecott awarded to a picture book illustrated with photographs? Or am I missing another?

    Thanks for sharing your posts from Chicago, Robin. I look forward to being in the audience again in Boston next year!

  6. Laura Smolkin says:

    Martha, of course one can never know the content of the Caldecott committee discussions, but I am with you on this one. The Farmer and the Clown is a brilliant work, and it merited recognition, if not the award itself. I’m good with Beekle; I can see its wonderful appeal for younger children. And I’m happy with many of the multiple honor awards — I loved Viva Frida and Sam and Dave, and I was delighted for Melissa Sweet and the honoring of a nonfiction work.
    But I think I am troubled at the selection of This One Summer. The Caldecott award is for children, and this is not a children’s book; it is clearly, as you’ve said, a YA book. Many of us were surprised years ago when the novel-length Hugo Cabret received the Caldecott medal, but it was a genre defying work, and its audience was the child, not the adolescent.
    My fervent prayer here is that some poor unsuspecting parent does NOT check out This One Summer for their young child. If we need an awards category for graphic novels, then let’s support ALA in creating one, but I do wish we would not muddy up the meaning of the Caldecott award for parents and teachers.

  7. I was crying into my coffee over the absence of THE FARMER AND THE CLOWN. BEEKLE is great, but after the honors were read off I was so sure it would be named the winner. Boo.

    I’m most excited about the inclusion of THE RIGHT WORD and THIS ONE SUMMER – THE RIGHT WORD because it’s amazing, and THIS ONE SUMMER because it’s outside what we often think of as Caldecott material – way to celebrate the upper end of the age range! Plus it happens to be a great book.

    I was underwhelmed by THE NOISY PAINT BOX, but I know several people on my Mock Caldecott committee loved it.

  8. Leona Vittum-Jones says:

    I am okay with all the picks, except for This One Summer. It is most definitely a teen graphic novel to my mind and therefore ineligible for a Caldecott. Also, how can it win an Honor for Printz (literature for young adults) and Caldecott (picture book for children)? I have a huge issue with this choice.

  9. Martha V. Parravano Martha V. Parravano says:

    I agree. I don’t consider Hugo Cabret to be a graphic novel at all. This is definitely a first. And a very interesting one given the intended audience. I agree with others that Hugo Cabret is a children’s book, and (the wonderful) This One Summer more YA.

  10. So many good books this year. I am happy with the honors and the winners. There were still more on my list that could have easily won, but I saw the merit in all of actual winners.

    Any ideas how to discuss This One Summer with younger children (K-2) in terms of a Mock Caldecott? Obviously content wise, it’s not appropriate so how do you go about explaining why it won?

  11. Martha V. Parravano Martha V. Parravano says:

    Just noticing … After last year, when four out of the five Caldecott books were wordless — this year, there’s not a single wordless book on the list! Not sure what that means (it’s a different committee from last year, of course); just thought I’d point it out.

  12. I was also surprised that the sublime GRANDFATHER GANDHI -one of my own personal favorites- did not make it.

    I have no issue at all with the choice of THIS ONE SUMMER. The Caldecott is for illustration, and regardless of the other sub–genres the book comfortably fits into, the Caldecott is a legitimate classification for it as well. Too often it is erroneously assumed that a graphic novel does not qualify, but in facts that fabulous illustrations well belong.

    Still, I can see what this would be controversial for a good number of people.

  13. I did notice that too Martha. I’m not sure what it means, but with so many truly great books this year, one wordless one just didn’t end up in the final deliberations. Different committee does explain it though as well.

  14. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    Six books can be read as evidence of a strong year (Sam’s view) or a weak committee, unable to build consensus. I smell blood but we’ll never know. The thing about FARMER AND THE CLOWN (which would have been my choice) is that it had active detractors, as opposed to a book that people Liked Just Fine but liked other books more..

    The absence of DRAW is intriguing to me.

  15. I just realized that the critically-praised (and a personal favorite) BAD BYE, GOOD BYE by Deborah Underwood and Jonathan Bean didn’t make it. I would have wagered it would have.

    But again just too many great ones, and the committee worked miracles giving seven out!

  16. Actually, A Dance Like Starlight did not win a Coretta Scott King honor or anything as far as I can find. Very surprising.

  17. I am so so sorry DRAW! didn’t make it Roger. I grew to really adore that book.

  18. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    It’s less work to give out more medals than fewer ones! (Is that even English?)

  19. Oh I hear loud and clear Roger. But I am hopelessly in love with the idea of more medals–I have a more the merrier philosophy in general. 🙂

    But I completely understand what you are saying, and MANY feel the same way. Each committee seems to have their own ideas as we saw with the 3 last year and 6 this year. So impossible to predict.

  20. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    I am packed and ready to go to the airport in a few moments, so my thoughts will be brief.
    I am befuddled by the utter absence of THE FARMER AND THE CLOWN, so I imagine someone on the committee saw something I did not see. If I hear one more “creepy clown” argument I might scream. This one has so much child appeal and the story line is amazing and complicated and emotionally satisfying.
    And, about six honor books, I imagine I will write about this later, but it points to a committee whose vote came down very evenly split among six books. Or, one book was neck-and-neck with Beekle (and Dan Santat must be one very very happy guy this morning!) and the others were evenly split.

    I do like thinking about how six books became honor books, but I find myself thinking of the artwork in The Iridescence of Birds and, of course, that sweet farmer. I try not to get too attached, but, there it is. I am attached.

    I have to think about a YA book being honored. I have not read This One Summer, so I have to do that before I talk.

    On to Midway.

  21. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    Good luck with your flight! Everyone should remember that Caldecott goes through age fourteen, so a lot of YA is eligible.

  22. While i am a huge fan of the graphic novel in general, and THIS ONE SUMMER in particular I found to be an amazing book in so many ways, particularly visually, it disturbs me to see this as a Caldecott award winner. I read the book to consider giving as a gift to my 12-year-old niece and decided against it thinking it would be more appropriate for her when she’s a little older. There are blunt references to oral sex, many subtle innuendos and not so subtle about sex, drinking, miscarriages, basically lots of things that unsuspecting parents may likely find their “children” not yet ready for. I agree that it’s a great thing to see a graphic novel selected for this award but this graphic novel in my opinion should not be in a children’s book category. Had I not read the book first, and instead decided to buy it based on its inclusion as a Caldecott award winner, I would be sad to think that my niece was reading things that could possibly confuse her and I’m sure that her parents would have considered my choice to be inappropriate.

  23. Marcia, that was one of the aspects of the ALA presentation that really surprised and disappointed me. A DANCE LIKE STARLIGHT is a masterpiece to these eyes.

  24. Our mini mock-Caldecott committee gave Beekle a very enthusiastic Honor, and I’m thrilled that it won the medal (they also honored Draw!–what happened to that book?). SIX honors might be an embarrassment of riches. I don’t have a problem with This One Summer, though–it’s right at the top of the age range, which is unusual but fine, and it’s gorgeously drawn. Just don’t give it to your five-year-old.

  25. Caldecott committee, here I come! I sooo voted for Viva Frida and The Right Word in this Mock Caldecott! I love six honors–was so surprised I screamed and my students thought I was a bit crazy, but it made for a fun announcement and there were many amazing books. A fan of graphic novels, I’m glad This One Summer won. I wasn’t bothered by the language because I grabbed it from the YA shelves. However, I understand others’ opinions because I would’ve had that reaction if West of the Moon, targeted at a younger audience, would’ve won Newbery. I couldn’t get past the assault scene. Finally, so many fantastic wordless and near wordless books, I wish one would’ve won! But 7 Honors, now that’s just crazy…

  26. Barbara McClintock’s MY GRANDFATHER’S COAT is another very great book that also could have made this cut -another personal favorite of mine in a big way- I am sure Barbara’s time will come!!!

    I am presently reading through THIS ONE SUMMER. Wow, the language and sexual references are flooring me, not because they are inappropriate for a young adult novel, but rather because this book will soon be sporting a Caldecott Honor medal. But I LOVE the book and really think going in this direction was bold and visionary. But the art is fantastic, so that in the end is the bottom line.

  27. Maeve Knoth says:

    Certainly the Caldecott includes up through age 14 but the interesting question for a committee is should they award a book that is suited to a tiny slice of their audience? Just one 14-year-old? Most 14 year olds? Some young teens? This is where I would have been interested to hear the discussion about THIS ONE SUMMER. There are always conversations about child appeal and popularity, but rarely conversations about age range. I have to do our third grade Mock Caldecott wrap-up later this week and will pretty much just ignore THIS ONE SUMMER. My school tops out at 5th grade so I won’t add it to the collection. What books from this list do folks think will be read in ten years? Twenty years?

  28. Eric Carpenter says:

    THIS ONE SUMMER is so perfect for thirteen and fourteen year olds. I am glad there is now a caldecott honor winning book that ever middle school and high school in America will purchase. As Roger mentioned here, ALSC serves up to and including fourteen and I for one am glad this committee chose to recognize this.
    Rumor has it that the committee didn’t finish their Saturday until 3am, so that blood Roger smells is probably quite real.

    On an unrelated note. Weston Woods’ animated version of 2012 Caldecott Honor Me…Jane recieved the Carnegie Medal this morning. I’m sure followers of this blog will enjoy this production immensely!

  29. Martha V. Parravano Martha V. Parravano says:

    Eric, the video of Me…Jane looked wonderful. I look forward to seeing it. (Love the book so much.) Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

  30. Elisa Gall says:

    THIS ONE SUMMER is one of the most distinguished picture books of 2014, but what an incredible surprise! I kept saying to friends and colleagues that it would take a special Caldecott committee with a lot of courage to put a sticker on it. This is where I echo Sam in saying that this committee deserves the HIGHEST PRAISE there is. I also think Eric makes great points and I’d like to add a thought or three to that conversation.

    If you agree that a book in the comics format is a type of picture book, then TOS is without hesitation eligible. It’s not fair to compare TOS to the INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET just because they’re both over 32 pages long. This isn’t the Geisel—there are no length restrictions. One is a book told in the comics format and the other is a different type of innovative visual experience.

    What’s fascinating to me is that people’s concerns with TOS are going to be more about content/age range than length or format. Many books can and often are appreciated by both children and young adults. There are middle grade titles that are totally appropriate for the Printz and there are YA books that are appropriate to win the Newbery and Caldecott based on the age range in the criteria. It’s possible that there will be CROSSOVER (pun intended) with the books for the highest of the Caldecott and Newbery age range and the youngest of the Printz. Sure, this might be one of the first (only?) Caldecott honorees with explicit language in it. (A graphic graphic novel—ha!) But we don’t have to debate if it is a YA book or not. YA books for 12-13 year-olds can totally win the Caldecott. That means that a Caldecott can be awarded to a book that will be best appreciated by a freshman in high school. That’s the charge, directly from the criteria.

    If the problem is unsuspecting parents checking out/buying books for younger readers and not knowing about content in the book, maybe we book people need to do a better job of knowing our readers, educating them about the details of these awards we hold so dear, and connecting them with books they can best appreciate. If it’s not TOS, maybe it’s THE ADVENTURES OF BEEKLE. Both are stupendous.

  31. Elisa Gall says:

    I meant books for 12-14 (not 12-13) in my comments above. Sorry for the typo.

  32. Utterly fantastic comment Elisa!!!!!!!!!!!! Hats off to Junko Yokoda and her committee for leaving the box the box the way they did. Just so exciting and great for children’s literature!!

    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  33. Ruth Anne Champion says:

    I am very pleased that The Right Word is a Caldecott honor. If I could vote for only one book, that would be the one.

  34. Nina Lindsay says:

    Elissa, I’ve been reading down these comments and formulating my defense of THIS ONE SUMMER but you did it for me. Yes, bravo. A perfect example of a book in the very upper reaches of Newbery/Caldecott age span that is both a book for “teens”, and a book for “children”, and so very outstanding that is surely deserves the honor. Those individual 12-14 year olds for whom the book was clearly written deserve it too.

  35. Nina Lindsay says:

    Martha, I think that this committee’s selections speak to the smartness of their deliberation, and so I doubt that extra-literary concerns as you put them entered in. Instead, I see a groundbreaking expansion of what the award can encompass, letting a diversity of kinds of excellence in, and for whatever reason, when they had to narrow it down to those seven, FARMER AND THE CLOWN just didn’t quite make it. But knowing that farmer and that clown I trust they will stick with us for quite a while.

  36. I am devastated about the missing IRIDESCENCE OF BIRDS, which was my favorite of the year. It has such a big heart, and it’s so original and exquisite. Damn. Also stunned that DRAW won nothing. What? But there are several books I still have not seen, so I will have to remedy that somehow.

  37. Well-said, Elisa.

  38. Nina, that’s quite a rosy picture you paint there! And lots of assumptions you make, since we can know nothing about the committee’s deliberations, “smart” or otherwise. You are free to infer anything you want, of course, but it’s (necessarily) pure speculation. Personally, I find it difficult to believe that a book like THE FARMER AND THE CLOWN, which seemed to evoke strong reactions in people, “just didn’t quite make it” as one of the seven. (But that’s conjecture as well.)

    FYI I too applaud the committee for stretching that envelope! It feels like a true sea change. But that doesn’t mean I have to approve unilaterally. I still feel — strongly — that THE FARMER AND THE CLOWN deserved Caldecott recognition, and I disagree with the committee’s decision to overlook it, regardless of how they arrived at the decision. Hopefully the many children’s book people out there who admire it and supported it will help it live a very long life, even without a silver or gold sticker…

  39. This page on the making of Viva Frida was on an earlier posting. I’m not sure if it’s what you’re looking for, but it’s amazing.

  40. Nina Lindsay says:

    Martha, sure I was speculating, as were you. I do think that the breadth of the honors demonstrates something….speculatively, a rigorous and “smart” process, based on what I see in those honors.

    I’m not trying to argue against the merits of the FARMER AND THE CLOWN here. But I don’t understand disagreeing with a decision when you don’t know what that decision was based on.

  41. Nina Lindsay says:

    (Martha, I’m sorry, I should restate myself. Of course you can disagree, for any reason you choose, and you present your argument compellingly. I guess I am wondering …WHY disagree with the committee’s decision “regardless” of the reason? I may be your statement a little differently that you’re intending… )

  42. Kjersten Hayes says:

    I was pleased to see so many deserving women illustrators honored this year. I also felt like the committee took quite a few bold moves — honoring an edgier graphic novel and an unconventional three-dimensional approach to illustration, to name two. Even if Roger is right in his instinct to smell blood, a committee full of people willing to take some risks and step outside the box is a committee that isn’t sleeping through its job. I applaud their choices. “Distinguished” by its very nature should sometimes be unpredictable.

  43. Martha V. Parravano Martha V. Parravano says:

    That’s funny, Nina, I was just about to write to restate MYself 😉

    I guess the most I’m entitled to is disappointment in the outcome. You can’t disagree with a closed door or a lifelong vow of secrecy. Can’t engage those things in meaningful discussion. So that’s what I’ll say: I’m hugely disappointed in the outcome (as far as FARMER AND THE CLOWN goes) regardless of how the committee arrived at its decision. Because even if all fifteen members had issues with the book or were indifferent to it or disliked it; even if it never got close to reaching the top seven; heck, even if it never made it to the table in the first place (we’ll never know –right?) — for me it would still be one of the most brilliant picture books of the year, and it would still deserve Caldecott recognition.

    I’m not sure how else to say this!

  44. Lynn Van Auken says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this link. I found the description I was hoping for on the ALA Pura Belpre web page, but this conversation with Yuyi will most certainly enhance my conversations about Viva Frida with my students.

  45. Barb Outside Boston says:

    I am so thrilled with the choices!

    VIDA FRIDA was my favorite–I think a medal to either side of Frida will look just fine.

    I did not find THE FARMER AND THE CLOWN particularly distinguished and didn’t buy it for my school because it seemed to me I have seen books like that before. It’s not bad, just not phenomenal, like the award winners.

    The one that I am sad about not being in this group is NEIGHBORHOOD SHARKS, but at least it got some shiny!

  46. My heart is a bit broken over The Farmer and the Clown, but that disappointment was balanced out by the surprise inclusion of The Noisy Paintbrush, which was one of my favorite books of the year. Perhaps Beekle is a book with more child appeal than Farmer and the Clown?

  47. Rebecca, I would suggest that BEEKLE does have more child appeal that FARMER; for me it is the more deserving book, the more imaginative book, the more metaphorical book, the more visionary book, though I do love the deeply moving FARMER quite a bit. Last year on this very same wrap-up thread I moaned and complained and expressed quite a bit of indignation when Peter Brown’s MR. TIGER GOES WILD was completely left out of the winner’s circle, and the discussion regrettably got quite heated. Most told me that the committee had spoken, while a few suggested that the committee members in all likelihood “found things” that may have caused invalidation, even for example a reversed gutter on one of the spreads. The discussion escalated to the point where some of the respondents intimated that the “system works” (it does work for sure!!) and that the committee’s year-round examination of hundreds of books would always yield the best results, and one that we can rally around as a kind of definitive judgement. I responded there was a degree of “taste” that factored in, and that a different committee would not in all likelihood come up with the same result. I still stand by those convictions. As to THE FARMER AND THE CLOWN, yes it did dominate the Horn Book voting, but it did NOT to be sure dominate book critics’ lists and award sites to the point where you would see its absence as some kind of a grievous omission. I love THE FARMER AND THE CLOWN, I really do, but this was a year of multiple riches, and this hard-working and visionary committee came up with an amazing group of winners. Like everybody else I was saddened that some of my own favorites, books like GALAPAGOS GEORGE, DRAW!, EDWARD HOPPER PAINTS HIS WORLD, A DANCE LIKE STARLIGHT, FIREBIRD, MY GRANDFATHER’S COAT, BAD BYE GOOD BYE and many others didn’t get validation, but I look at the whole picture and say that this committee really did their homework. THE RIGHT WORD, FRIDA and NANA were master strokes, and despite what Lolly says about the muddied colors (not really Lolly, but musician friends) in THE NOISY PAINTBOX I don’t see that as really significant myself, and find that choice as a fabulous surprise. This committee has broken with tradition in a big way with THIS ONE SUMMER, and my hands are hurting from too much applause. A shot out of the blue, but a deal breaker, and proof that a courageous committee will not be deterred. SAM & DAVE DIG A HOLE is a great book with one of the profound denouements ever, and well-deserves a citation.

    In the end, I do not for a second believe that there was any indecision or deficiency in the fact that the committee went with SIX (6) honor books at all. And I’m not so sure that I buy the proposition that it is much easier to give out more honor books. Who’s to say that there weren’t 20 books in the picture till the latter part of deliberations? So yes, I firmly stand by my contention that the unusual number of winners has far more to do with the year’s wealth of picture book riches. Martha has acknowledged this numerous times, characterizing it as a Golden Age. I can’t agree with her more. That is my position, but I understand some others see it differently, and that’s fair enough.

    So last year, some of us bemoaned the absence of MR. TIGER and NINO among others, and this year some of us are not happy about FARMER, JOSEPHINE and IRIDESCENCE being left out. As others contended last year, and as I now contend this year, we need to look at the overall picture, and all I see is a brilliant job by the most esteemed Junko Yokota and her diligent committee. But looking at all the awards I’d have to say that EVERY committee named brilliant choices. The Siberts were absolutely incredible, but as I say I think all of them came in with banner results.

  48. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    Nina, you see seven quite disparate books included and think “smart”; to me it looks more like “and one for you, one for you, one for you . . . .” Maybe the committee was overwhelmed by riches, but maybe it just couldn’t find consensus.

  49. Jonathan Hunt says:

    I would like to address the false either/or conundrum presented earlier in the comments, that is, that the six honors are either evidence of a strong year or a weak committee. In any given year, there are at least a couple dozen books worthy of Caldecott recognition of one kind or another, regardless of whether that year is considered strong or weak. Thus, I do not necessarily believe that there is a correlation between the strength of the year and the number of honor books, nor should there necessarily be one. That can certainly be a factor in the choosing of the honor books, but it is one factor of many.

    Roger said that it is more work to choose fewer honor books, and that too is not necessarily true. It is more difficult emotionally to choose fewer honor books, and the most difficult decision is to choose only one honor book because it’s hard to invest so much time and effort into the process and come up with only two books to celebrate. I misspoke, however, as it is not really the most difficult decision that a committee can make. The most difficult decision has never been made yet: to recognize no honor books.

    Many committees could easily name a single honor book and arguably should have based on how the votes fell, but they deliberately chose to climb down the ladder for two, three, or four honor books for a more satisfying list–and the farther down the ladder you climb the less likely it is that the books are genuinely clumped together in such a way as to suggest that fewer honor books could not not have been named.

    Five honor books are as rare as a single honor book for two reasons. First, the farther you climb down the ladder, the further away you move from consensus. And second, there is an enormous amount of peer pressure to not be the committee that lacked self-control, to not be the committee that tried to appease all of its disparate factions (although that charge could probably also be leveled at many of the 2-4 honor book committees if we could only see their deciding ballots). Depending on a committee’s reasons for choosing five honor books, this decision can be just as difficult emotionally as choosing a single honor book. Five honor books can be a sign of a weak committee, but not necessarily.

    Six honor books (like zero honor books) is unprecedented in the history of the Caldecott, and leaving aside the individual merit of the chosen books (and the unchosen books, too) I’m quite pleased that in its quest for the most distinguished picture book for children the Caldecott committee did the following in an organic fashion: (1) We became the first Caldecott committee to recognize three illustrators of color–and in so doing we recognized as many as the last seven committees put together and chose the first Medal winner since Jerry Pinkney in 2010, (2) We became the first Caldecott committee to recognize five female illustrators–there were only 12 in the previous decade so we accomplished almost half of that in a single year, (3) We became the first Caldecott committee to recognize a graphic novel, and (4) Our choices demonstrate the full breadth of our charge–from books to preschoolers (NANA IN THE CITY, VIVA FRIDA) to books for middle schoolers (THIS ONE SUMMER), from a pair of the most child-friendly titles in recent memory (BEEKLE, SAM & DAVE) to ones with decidedly narrower audiences but not necessarily less appreciative ones (THE NOISY PAINT BOX, THE RIGHT WORD)–there is literally a book for everyone on this list. I wish that every committee could be so weak! 🙂

  50. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    Well, sure, Jonathan–you can do a lot with seven books 😉

  51. Nina Lindsay says:

    Roger and Martha, thanks. Seeing this point of view more clearly. (Perhaps a night of sleep helped too.) It’s true of course that I can’t know whether the 6 honors was lack of consensus or not. I used the word “smart” because I can’t imagine that the decision to go with 6, and to include something extremely controversial within that 6, was done lightly. To me, if the lineup was more “typical,” the lack of FARMER AND THE CLOWN would give me pause. This lineup makes it much easier for me to accept. (And Martha, I get you now, and can’t disagree with that!)

  52. Congratulations Jonathan, outstanding selections. This experience had to be different than Printz committee 2008 and Newbery committee 2006. Well done and you and the committee are to be commended. You could almost say Right Word is NF, a favorite genre of yours ;-))

  53. Jonathan Hunt, if I can say so Sir, in the spirit of Jen Bryant’s and Melissa Sweet’s THE RIGHT WORD that was one brilliant, terrific, spectacular, awesome, visionary, transcendent comment!!!!!!

    Kudos to you, Sir!!!

  54. Susan Dailey says:

    I can’t imagine how difficult it is to choose even 7 books in any given year so kudos to the committee. However, I am disturbed (disappointed? concerned?) that a “teen” book was honored as a Caldecott. I can’t help feeling that books for older readers are encroaching on an award meant for children. (And yes I know that this award goes to books for children up to age 14, but from what I’ve read, “This One Summer” barely squeaks into the age range.) I wonder what would happen if a Newbery Committee chose an honor book meant strictly for preschoolers. Would that be viewed as a brave/bold choice? I doubt that we’ll ever know. I checked the last 20 years of Newbery winners and the closest seems to be “Show Way” by Jacqueline Woodson, which SLJ recommends for kdg. to grade 5. (I’m not sure how I feel about a graphic novel winning a Caldecott honor, but I can understand those who argue they are eligible.)

    On a different topic, did this committee achieve another first in recognizing a book of photography? Should we consider “Viva Frida” by Yuyi Morales as such? The photographer Tim O’Meara isn’t mentioned in the YMA press release, but is listed as an illustrator in my library’s catalog.

  55. Sam Bloom says:

    Folks, all the complaining about This One Summer seems to point to one thing: we have a very narrow view of our age range. The age range is 0-14, and I surely feel that this book falls into that age range. So what’s the problem? Say you’re an elementary teacher and you are talking to your students about the winners/honors: good for you. And sorry that you may (or may not) feel awkward about mentioning this book to the young kids, but that isn’t the fault of the Real Committee! I’ve spoken with middle schoolers about past Newbery Honors, and I’ve touched on the fact that Frog & Toad won, and the world did not end. You can mention that a book for older readers won a Caldecott Honor, even say the name to 1st or 2nd or 3rd graders, and the world will not end. Or, don’t mention it at all. Either way, it will be okay.

    Me? I’m offended that the Caldecott committee stole our thunder. We thought we were pretty cool with 5 honors, and then a couple committees later, BOOM. 6 honors. We’re totally forgotten. Thanks a lot, Jonathan! 😉

  56. Thank you for your insight into the selection process Jonathan. I always wonder what goes on behind those closed doors, and your insider’s view was enlightening.

  57. When discussing This One Summer with younger children, I would explain that the Caldecott award is not just for pictures in books for their age group. This Caldecott honor was for illustrations in a book that is for older children as defined by the committee. In this case up to age 14. Not every book awarded a sticker is relevant to every child or age group. This one is for older kids and they will just have to wait until they are older to read it.

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