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Wednesday Morning Quarterbacking: the process edition

ALA2015_caldecottclothesI am back at school and still processing the weekend in Chicago. The blizzard, the meetings, the books, the buses, the proud moments when two good friends (the two who gave me the courage to join ALA in the first place) won service and achievement awards…it’s all a bit of a blur right now.

I am back at school where the children are abuzz. They have two reactions: 1. We love Beekle!!! Yay!!! and 2. What happened to The Farmer and the Clown?

In Chicago the 2015 Newbery Committee members were proudly sporting T-shirts with words on the back saying: Trust the Process. Those three words are a challenge this year as I find myself scratching my head and trying to figure out the Real Caldecott Committee. Actually, now that I think about it, I always try to figure out how things happened behind those closed doors! Why should this year be any different? How did this all go down? How did they end up with an astounding six books as honors? How did Beekle end up their top choice over those six books? How did a young adult book end up being an honor book? So. Many. Questions.

I do not know the answers to any of those questions and never will. The Cloak of Confidentiality is all rolled up like a blanket around the committee and will be forever. That’s the rule. And it’s a good one.

That doesn’t stop me from wondering, though.

Full disclosure: I have seen both This One Summer and The Noisy Paintbrush, but I have not read them over and over, nor do I have a copy of either one in my hot little fist. And finding a copy is going to be tough in the next few weeks. So, there’s that. However, I have blog comments and reviews to look at, and I think I remember enough about both to talk about the seven books that were honored, at least a bit. Scoot up a chair, I am feeling a bit long-winded today.

How did this all go down? How did Beekle end up their top choice over those six books?

No idea, but my gut reaction and reading of comments and tweets tells me it took awhile. The word is that the committee worked until 3:00 AM on Saturday night. Now, maybe writing seven press releases took a long time, but I think it’s more than that. A long night means many ballots, and many ballots means it took time to reach consensus. Maybe Beekle was neck-and-neck with another book, and in order to get enough first-place votes to declare a winner, they had to talk a long time and someone had to move to the Beekle camp. Or, the initial ballot was very evenly split — three or four first-place votes for four or five different books. This would mean that three or four or five people would have to be convinced to change their votes, and they would all have to change to Beekle.

How did they end up with an astounding six books as honors?

Once they got to enough first-place votes — and that could have taken a very long time — they would have had to decide honor books. Maybe they weren’t up for a fight and agreed to take the next five books in line, after the book that lost to Beekle. (As I see the books lined up on my chalk tray in my classroom, I am going to bet that book was The Right Word. No evidence, of course, just wild and crazy conjecture. The best kind of conjecture!) Maybe the next five books were equal in the points total, and they had to decide to honor all of them or none of them? (That would be another wild conjecture, but that’s what I think happened.)

What happened to The Farmer and the Clown?

Here is where “Trust the Process” gets a little challenging for me. I read and heard whisper campaigns about this book in the final weeks before Midwinter meetings. Creepy clowns. What was that old man doing looking at the little boy when he was sleeping? Was the farmer Amish and was the depiction of Amish people sensitive? Please. People. Please give me a sign that this was not what sank this beautiful and sensitive book. Please, let the committee have found some flaw in the art or the story line that I missed. Maybe the committee did not see it as distinguished the way I saw it. Again, we will never know. When my devastated second graders asked about it, I was pretty silent. I did not offer any suggestions as, frankly, I did not want to talk about creepy clowns or imaginary dirty old men or insulted Amish people with them. They would never believe that people actually think about stuff like that. Plus, it would sully the book they love.

How did a young adult book end up being an honor book?

I don’t know. What I remember about the art is that it was lovely. I do not have it right here and do not remember the art well enough to talk about it. I have always been in the camp arguing that some graphic novels could be picture books and could be considered for the Caldecott, but I guessed that most would not actually be considered picture books by a committee. So, I have to trust that the art and story met the criteria. Perhaps older readers will be excited that a Caldecott sticker is on a book they love; perhaps that bling will draw older readers to an excellent book. I certainly hope it will. However (and here you see me putting my second-grade teacher hat on), it’s the content that concerns me. Roger reminded us that Caldecott goes up through age 14. I know. I went and reread those words a few times today. Maybe that part of the criteria needs a second look. The age overlap with ALSC and YALSA has been discussed before.

This morning, two parents were dropping their kids off and asked me about my weekend. They then asked about the Caldecott Awards. They had watched the ceremony because their kids were wild about the titles we had discussed at school. They followed the online discussion here in the comments. The father said, “What about that book for high school kids? The one with the curse words. I hate when a committee has an agenda. Do you think that’s what happened?” I answered honestly, “I dunno. It’s a big committee, and they have to come to consensus. And Caldecott is for children up to age 14.” He wasn’t buying what I was selling. Caldecott means picture books to parents, and picture books mean elementary school. (Don’t holler, “But the criteria says up to 14!” because I know that it does. I am just telling you the way it is, face-to-face with parents.)

All I know is that now, instead of talking about Beekle and Viva Frida and The Right Word and Nana in the City and Sam & Dave and The Noisy Paintbox, I am answering questions about the Printz committee and cuss words and oral sex references.

I know that was not the committee’s intent, and I do trust the process. I also know how hard the committees work and how seriously they take their charge. That doesn’t mean I have to like every part of the process. For now, I think I will just reread The Iridescence of Birds and Naomi Shihab Nye’s The Turtle of Oman (a Newbery hopeful) again — two books that I thought might get some love. And, of course, The Farmer and the Clown.

 

 

Robin Smith About Robin Smith

Robin Smith is a second-grade teacher at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee. She is a reviewer for Kirkus and The Horn Book Magazine and has served on multiple award committees.

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  1. Lolly Robinson Lolly Robinson says:

    Robin, thank you so much for this post. Lots to think about. I’m one of the people who wants to see graphic novels get their own award because I think there are some interesting differences in evaluating them. Not as many as one might think, given the audience differences, but definitely there.

    I just put something on Lolly’s Classroom hoping to get some comments here from teachers.

  2. Elissa Gershowitz Elissa Gershowitz says:

    Robin, I am too in awe of this post to even know what to say. Other than: wow! And: thank you! And: thanks for reminding me about Turtle of Oman. (Geez, yeah, thanks a LOT! Now I’m all sad.)

  3. Great post! I was mostly very happy with the slate of winners — such a broad and diverse group in terms of genres, characters’ backgrounds and races, readers’ ages, tone and taste. To complain seems churlish…but when has that stopped me? So I join you in broken-heartedness about the The Farmer and the Clown, which along with Josephine was my fave picture book of the year. I was underwhelmed by The Noisy Paintbox (meh, and not because Kandinsky was not so much a fan of my people the Jews) and actively bummed about Popular (NOT DISTINGUISHED, HI) but I’m dandy-fine with This One Summer, and as I said, overall I’m really good with the selections. I realize being on a committee is a hard, hard job.

  4. The committees are always a mystery until I realize that taste is subjective and a different committee might have made different choices. I was more struck by how several books ended up on multiple awards lists and wondered about the lack of breadth as it pertains to multicultural literature that the selections were limited to so few. I hope that changes in the future.

    On Farmer and Clown – a good friend made the argument that the middle scene in which the child takes a bath followed by sleeping with a worried look while the old man watches over him made the book too suggestive. I noted that had the artist nuanced the first of the two illustrations (i.e not have the child shaking with his hands crossed near his privates) the scene would have read differently. The child could have easily just peered into the water on his tip toes and the “suggestion” of impropriety would have collapsed in favor of the more general child’s fear of water, baths and all things clean (at least in my household years ago).

    Still, I found the book sweet, and like that it paints a male as being a capable and loving caregiver. Alas – another committee might have found it so too. But those are the mysteries of ALA.

    My overall take is that this year’s awards were an amazing departure from the status quo with a larger subsection of content creators given a seat at the awards table. Many of us were weary of having people of color constantly routed to their own race specific categories and ignored in those that were mainstream.

    For that change I say – applause, applause. The people who are recognized should look more like the growing ethnicity of the children we write for.

  5. I think there was definitely a hidden agenda here, at the expense of truly distinguished books being awarded the Caldecott and Newbery (including the Honors as well). This makes a mockery of not only the process of selecting winners, but the integrity of the awards. To even suggest The Farmer and the Clown has a hint of impropriety about it in the relationship between the two characters is absurd AND hypocritical on its own, but especially so in light of the mature content (of an R-rated nature) found in This One Summer. This year’s awards were all about who the committee members were, and not about great literature for all of our children.

  6. Graphic novels are available at appropriate levels for children and which would be a good fit for the Caldecott, as are graphic novels for YAs as may be suitable for the Printz. However, if a committee member or Chair has his/her own agenda for pushing certain titles by certain creators, that’s how we get a Caldecott based on a TV series character (Beekle/Adipose) and This One Summer, a poor choice to a time-honored American tradition of the Caldecott being a symbol of quality literature we can share with our CHILDREN.

  7. Robin, thanks for this post. I have also been getting questions about “that one YA book” from my elementary school kiddos, but they are overwhelmingly excited to see books for all types of audiences win awards.

    The Eisner is already a well-known, highly respected award for comics and graphic novels. It has separate categories for kids and teens, and the folks who nominate and vote for the winners are industry experts. I’m all about comics, but I do worry that if we created an additional comics-specific award, people would start saying “this was a good COMIC” but not see the same book as a good work of literature (or an excellent PB) period.

    We’ve seen this year that many of the ALA-youth media awards and their criteria are inclusive. A graphic novel can win the Newbery honor in the same way that a traditional picture book with excellent text can win the Newbery. A graphic novel—as an essentially visual experience—is just as eligible for the Caldecott as a wordless book for 2nd graders or a concept book for infants.

    I recognize there are differences in approaching evaluation to longer comics and 32 page picture books, but aren’t there also differences in how we evaluate board books and early readers? Or wordless books and nonfiction picture books? There are lots of book awards ALSC doesn’t have. I wouldn’t be AGAINST a comics award, but I’m not sure it’s necessary.

  8. Like all of us, I respect the decision of the committee. Having been on Newbery I am all too aware of that complicated process and how it can lead into some unexpected results. To be honest (don’t hate me!), The Farmer and the Clown, while beautifully rendered, did not hit me as hard emotionally as others. It wasn’t because of any of unease — this post was the first I knew that some were thinking icky things and I think it is ridiculous — but just because it had what felt to me personally a melancholy nostalgic quality that didn’t speak to me. Again, don’t hate me — the book is beautiful and I’d have been easily able to get behind it if I’d been on the committee, but my heart was always behind some of the other honors most of all, specifically Viva Frida, Sam & Dave, and The Right Word and so I’m thrilled to see that they were all recognized. I love This One Summer, but as YA and can’t speak to it at all in terms of the Caldecott criteria. That said, I think it is fabulous that the committee did — if you’ve got an award that is for children through ages 14 seems fitting that a gn for that age range might get honored and so it was. And, Lolly, I still disagree about a new gn award. The Caldecott and Newbery are the ones known out in the world. Those who otherwise don’t pay attention to our award notice those. So tweaking their criteria is my hope so that newer sorts of books get more recognition.

  9. Also, as a 4th grade teacher — my class and I had done a lot with Sam & Dave, lengthy conversations about what the ending meant and then a puppet show. (I’m going to see if I can post the video of it.) So they were very pleased at its being honored. They also really enjoyed Beekle, especially its similarly meta-bits.

  10. Elisa Gall says:

    Monica, I think you’re on to something with changing up a word or two in the criteria. With the Newbery, maybe that could be with definition #1. (“Contribution to American literature” indicates the text of a book. It also implies that the committee shall consider all forms of writing—fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.) If it were up to me, I’d delete everything after the dash. All forms of writing. Done. I think the inclusive language for GNs and other PB formats is already there in the Caldecott terms and criteria. What isn’t inclusive are the rules about residency & citizenship or that only the illustrator is recognized.

  11. I am completely with Monica Edinger. The theory that THE FARMER AND THE CLOWN was sunk because of the “creepy clowns” perception (and specifically that one scene) is to be an inaccuracy, though of course we will never know. But I am sometimes a betting man, and I’d wager the reason the book didn’t get chosen in the Big 7 is simply because:

    1. There were many award worthy books this year. 2014 is one of the greatest years ever.
    2. THE FARMER IN THE CLOWN was probably loved by the committee, but simply not enough.
    3. FARMER IN THE CLOWN did NOT corner the market on emotions. BEEKLE, FRIDA, NANA IN THE CITY and THIS ONE SUMMER were absolutely as emotionally resonant as FARMER to these eyes, and perception. The other three winners (THE RIGHT WORD, SAM AND DAVE and THE NOISY PAINT BOX) were not by their nature aimed in that direction, but they too connected emotionally in a big way too.
    4. Much like last year, when MR. TIGER GOES WILD got shut out to the shock of many myself included, it simply comes down to liking other books a bit more. This year’s result was no repudiation of FARMER, it was a celebration and rightful coronation of seven absolutely first-class books, but a committee that simply cannot be praised enough. This was one of the American Library Association’s greatest hours, and they’ve had many great ones to be sure.

    My own first-graders were relatively indifferent to FARMER (I liked it a lot more than they did) but BEEKLE was one of their favorites, as I revealed in my classroom Mock Caldecott a few weeks ago. Like MR. TIGER I am thinking that FARMER will win the Boston-Horn book award for illustration in the near future, and if that should come to pass I will applaud.

  12. ****THE FARMER AND THE CLOWN*** not as I wrote THE FARMER IN THE CLOWN, which ironically makes it seem even more suggestive! Ugh!!!!!! I posted that right after I got up!!!!

    Seriously though, I do think it is highly unlikely that any committee that made the boldest decision in the history of the Caldecotts (bolder than SMOKY NIGHT for sure) by citing THIS ONE SUMMER -a book with four letter words, direct sexual references to sexual acts and more, would be finicky over “creepy clowns.” Sure THIS ONE SUMMER is aimed at the highest end of the Caldecott eligibility parameter, and it is a graphic young adult novel, but regardless it was a very bold and unprecedented move. A committee that exhibits such (glorious) sensibilities would be highly unlikely to take a conservative stand on FARMER. No, I see it as just liking other books more. Personally I am in mourning far more for the absence of Sergio Ruzzier’s A LETTER FOR LEO, Joyce Sidman and Rick Allan’s WINTER BEES, Bethany Hegedus and Evan Turk’s GRANDFATHER GANDHI, Kristy Dempsey and Floyd Cooper’s A DANCE LIKE STARLIGHT and Misty Copeland and Christopher Myers’ FIREBIRD, but again we can’t realistically give 15 honors. As it is we have a record breaker here—I just researched the Caldecott home page and saw that while there were numerous years where five (5) Honors were given, there was never a single instance of six or more – and this is great news for the industry- for sales, for recognition, for diversity and for the reach and significance of the medals themselves.

    I much enjoyed Robin’s exhaustive and super engaging report. As far as THE RIGHT WORD being the book that challenged BEEKLE right up to the end, I’d say that is an excellent piece of speculation. I am also thinking the FRIDA and NANA were especially beloved, but as is mentioned here, no one can ever be sure.

  13. Brenda Martin says:

    From the eligibility bullet points of the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction:

    “The title must include excellent writing, research, presentation and readability for young adults.”

    Popular is highly qualified for all four of those criteria. Sorry you are “actively bummed”. Nowhere in the criteria does the word “distinguished” appear.

  14. On another note, would anybody be able to tell me if there are plans to conduct a group meeting at Simmons College (as there was last year) to address the books the winners, and the books that didn’t make it? If so, I’ll be making application to attend, as I much enjoyed last year’s event. Thank you.

  15. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    I appreciated Sam & Dave for all the reasons you stated, Monica. I expected my students would be over the moon about it. Some were. It was so interesting to see how they dealt with the ending. It would have made a fabulous scientific study about development. The younger kids were befuddled, seeing the ending as “mistake,” as if the illustrators simply forgot to paint the flowers and trees and weathervane the same way at the end. They could not be swayed by the older ones, who entertained the same wild thoughts as we did when the book was first discussed online. It was one of the best (and funniest) discussions we had all year!

  16. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    Elisa and Monica–
    I think a tweaking is in order. Things get tweaked all the time in those committee manuals.
    I am laughing because I remember all the discussion of picture book vs illustrated book that rears its head every year when it comes to Caldecott. Seems a mite silly to me now, given the changing world and all.

  17. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    AND…

    When I brought up the silly stuff being said about F&C, it was because I heard people talking like that. And, it has nothing to do with being conservative or liberal about bookmaking. Certain ideas are so lethal that it’s hard to get them out of your head.
    But I do trust the process, so I hope Monica’s sensible take (nostalgic, etc) is what happened.
    There is no reason to think I would hate anyone for disagreeing with my interpretation of any book, by the way. I CERTAINLY understand that we all have our own take on every book.

    Oh, and I actually can “get behind” (as Monica says) all the books on the list. Except for THIS ONE SUMMER and THE NOISY PAINTBOX (sorry, I don’t have that one YET), I have seen children fall in love with the characters and art and storylines of all of them. One of my students burst into tears when THE RIGHT WORD won the Sibert Medal and a Caldecott honor–she was that happy and that invested.

  18. This is an interesting discussion, to be sure, and I thank our CC leaders for getting it going.
    I have thoughts about two of the issues Robin raised.
    With respect to The Farmer and the Clown, I think we want to be careful when we ask why it didn’t win. That suggests that it was the presumptive winner, and was somehow knocked off of its pedestal in some nefarious, agenda-ridden way. Lots of books didn’t win. Are we to ask the same question about all of those? If the committee did their job right (and I’m betting they did), every book they looked at started on equal footing. I’d guess that there were lots of folks who liked it very much, but found three books they liked better. Let’s not forget that, even though the committee chose seven books, each individual member only voted for three. The Farmer and the Clown could have been in everyone’s top five, but with a few (different) book ahead of it.
    And as we think about <This One Summer (which you may remember was my top choice when CC called for our nominations) I think we need to remember that a picture book for teens can and probably should differ from a picture book for younger children not only in the subject matter it takes on, but in the way it interprets its thematic content, as well. Robin, you say you remember the art as “lovely,” and I don’t know that I agree. There is beauty there, to be sure, but it’s a prickly sort of beauty. For me, the book’s genius lies in its palpable evocation of the tawdry and the salacious, and the way those more mature sensibilities begin to intrude on a place and a friendship that used to be comfortable and safe. it is undeniably discomfiting, and that’s the whole point. There is no sugar-coating here, and there shouldn’t be. Respect for children’s understandings, abilities, and appreciations. Check. Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed; Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept; Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept; Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures; Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience. Check, check, check, check, check. I have so much respect for the committee’s ability to give the books at the perimeter of the age range really equitable consideration. Well done!

  19. Am shocked that the Farmer & The Clown got no love at all. If the reasons are as you feared, it’s even sadder. Thanks for a great post.

  20. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    Of course, we will never know what happened. I do trust the process, so I assume the very simple, “The Committee chose Beekle, The RIght Word, This One Summer, et al” explains it all.
    Thanks, Tom, for your analysis of THIS ONE SUMMER. As you know, I have only had it in my hand when a friend was reading it and do not have it now. So, I certainly cannot comment beyond my first impression and looking at the cover online. Of course, now that the committee has read it and talked about it and has honored it, I will. I should have grabbed it when Horn Book put it on their Fanfare list. (smacking my head that I did not!)

    I think it’s natural to wonder what happened in discussion to a BUNCH of books that did not win.
    Human nature, of course, especially when one is so fond of certain books. I just shelved all the books my second graders discussed and read and was amazed, again, to see the wealth of choices this year. Luckily, they will stay alive in libraries and classrooms and bookstores, whether they will find new readers every year.

  21. I absolutely LOVE Thom’s brilliantly written and reasoned presentation here.

  22. Sam Bloom says:

    This is such a wonderful discussion (spurred on by an amazing post; well done, Robin), so thanks to everyone for contributing to it! I personally think the 7 (7!!! WOW!) books they chose are phenomenal. When the announcements were made I remember the initial excitement of seeing NANA IN THE CITY, the shock of THE NOISY PAINTBOX (a book I loved but didn’t predict would get much love… here’s hoping Mary GrandPre keeps doing art for children’s books!), more excitement for SAM & DAVE (how could it NOT win something?!), the thrill of witnessing Yuyi Morales FINALLY winning some Caldecott love, the pride of seeing MY Sibert winner THE RIGHT WORD, and then the moment of being absolutely gobsmacked by THIS ONE SUMMER (how fitting that Tamaki comes last alphabetically so as to knock us all down). Nice job, Caldecott committee!

    p.s. Robin, I want to meet this RIGHT WORD-loving student of yours. What a wonderful story!

  23. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    Oh, Amy, I have ZERO idea as to why any book is not honored.

    I trust the committee found other books more distinguished, for whatever reasons they discussed. Only they had every book in the US universe in front of them!

  24. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    She is, you will not be surprised, a rather discerning reader. Like the little boy who insisted on voting for LETTER FOR LEO after it had left the ballot and the other boy who kept voting for MAPLE even though we have never had it on our ballot, second graders develop strong attachments!

  25. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    Thom, I keep seeing the word “dreamy” in the reviews. I bet that’s the best adjective. I wish I knew some teenagers who had read it. I don’t have teenagers at my disposal anymore. (insert sad empty nest face here)

  26. Amen, Sam! Great stuff!!

    A second grader who loves THE RIGHT WORD is a special student indeed!! 🙂

  27. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    To anyone who had made it to the bottom here:
    In your opinion, is THIS ONE SUMMER for high school or for middle school?
    I do not have the book yet and real people are all over the place on this one. Reviewers are united: 13+. In our school, that is 7th grade and I am just trying to answer questions.
    Thanks,
    Robin

  28. Lots of lovely books honored, which beats the puny two honors that the Newbery committee came up with!

    Not sure why people are so stunned to find a book that’s for the older edge of the age range in the mix, given that The Invention of Hugo Cabret actually won the award in 2008.

    Then again, I’ve always been in favor of artwork in books for older readers, so I’m happy to see it honored. Once upon a time, most middle grade and even some adult books had artwork, because people like art….I’m guessing that’s why there are so many art museums about 😉

    Then publishers figured out how they could save a few bucks, and it was “farewell” to pictures in books except for those who, you know, couldn’t yet read. If graphic novels and some notable chapter books (I’m looking at you, Kate DiCamillo, and your beautifully illustrated novels) are bucking the trend, well….hip, hip, hooray!

  29. It is appropriate for the eighth grade (age 14 and up) in my opinion, which of course would make it quite eligible for the Caldecott award it won.

  30. Todd Krueger says:

    Hi Robin,
    Great meeting you in Chicago! The only reason why I might say middle school AND high school for This One Summer is because the protagonists are middle schoolers on the cusp of full-on adolescence, while many of the themes they encounter have a more squarely mature sensibility to them. Not to mention the references to sex & drinking and of course the language.

  31. Genevieve says:

    I think it is suitable for ages 13 and up, 7th and 8th grade and up, with the caveat that not every 13 year old will be ready for it and that’s fine. But it is suitable for some 13 year-olds and many 14-year-olds, in my opinion. I’m not a librarian, though, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. My kiddo is currently 14 and I would have been fine with him reading it at 13 – if he’d asked to read it at 12, I would have told him that I preferred him to wait a year. (Now that he’s 14 I told him he can read anything he wants, though if he wants to know my opinion of whether it might be better to wait for a particular book he’s free to ask me.)

  32. Genevieve says:

    In my (non-librarian so take it with a grain of salt) opinion, it’s appropriate for most 14 year olds and some 13 year olds (and perhaps some mature 12 year olds). And definitely for high schoolers as well.

    My kiddo is 14, and I would have been fine with him reading it at 13 (7th grade).

  33. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    Amy above (I can’t reply to her reply in WordPress) says, “….that’s how we get a Caldecott based on a TV series character (Beekle/Adipose) and This One Summer, a poor choice to a time-honored American tradition of the Caldecott being a symbol of quality literature we can share with our CHILDREN.”

    I am sorry–does anyone know about this suggestion that Beekle is based on a TV show? And, what is an adipose? I looked it up and found a reference to fatty tissue. The image search was a little more interesting. A small fat white creature that does resemble Beekle…but lots of things resemble him. Like the Pillsbury Dough Boy. The creature is, I think, from Dr. Who, which I have never seen. Just trying to figure this comment out. Feel free to educate me.

  34. But wait, wait….F&C DID get some love…from the Notable Books For Children 2015 committee! As did Turtle of Oman…..and several other books that did not get THE prize/honor of their dreams but were still deemed notable by our committee. One never knows what happens in the committee rooms of midwinter….there are the committee members themselves and then that extra corporate brain that forms from each of them… Very interesting how the love bombs can fall flat on a favorite book….
    So, folks, please take a gander at the Notables list for some more terrific books…

  35. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    Oh, I have not seen the list yet. I don’t think we can link here, but I am sure we will figure out how to put a link in our next post, Bina. I did get to sit in on the fiction and nonfiction discussion and I am glad that The Turtle of Oman made the list. It was hard to tell if people really appreciated it or thought it was too quiet. YAY! And, I am very glad the F & C did too. I am in the middle of writing, but I will come up with that list soon. It’s such a valuable list.
    Did you guys gasp at the six honors? 🙂

  36. Nina Lindsay says:

    I think it’s easily suitable for 12 and up, depending on the reader. I’d encourage people not to consider which section of your library it goes in as the demarcator. Many children read the “YA section” for good reason….because adults hide what they need there.

  37. Nina Lindsay says:

    I’d like to thank Thom, Monica, Elissa, Sam and others for your reasoned comments here, and point out that the appropriate answer to a parent’s question “does the committee have an agenda?” …is that the committee’s only agenda is awarding excellent books, closing their ears to buzz and considering the individual and diverse books and readers for whom they’re intended. While each individual committee members may have individual biases or agendas, the consensus process pretty thoroughly eliminates those.

    How about telling parents how excited they should be that the Caldecott is going to serve their child throughout their childhood? An award to grow on.

  38. Martha V. Parravano Martha V. Parravano says:

    Bina, thanks so much for the reminder of the far-more-inclusive Notable Books! You and your committee have a great list here. Goodness, it really was a spectacular year! One amazing book after another…

    Here is the link: http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/notalists/ncb

    And I love what you said about the “extra corporate brain.” That’s a fabulous way to characterize what happens. Thanks, Bina 🙂

  39. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    Here is a link to the Notables List! It’s a great list as always. Thanks Bina, Edie and the whole committee. I was beaming with pride when a Nashville friend was appointed. Great job, Allison Barney! I hope your second year just as satisfying!
    http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/notalists/ncb

  40. Robert Gallagher says:

    I disagree with so many of you. While I am not a librarian, I am a parent. After the awards were announced, I purchased a copy of THIS ONE SUMMER, and have had an opportunity to read it. Unlike so many of you, I suppose, I found the artwork to be pedestrian, at best, and its message wholly inappropriate for my young daughters. The book was awarded an appropriate prize, as it was named a Printz honor book. When my daughters are older, perhaps they will find THIS ONE SUMMER interesting and/or moving, but I do not believe they will ever find the artwork remarkable or memorable. Many of you speak so reverently of the Caldecott committee and its decisions, and profess your respect and admiration of their noble struggle. What I don’t understand is why? The Printz commitee got this right, the Caldecott committee did not. Why is it so difficult to call a spade a spade, so to speak? They botched this one. And that observation is coming from a parent. And a bibliophile. And, I would like to think, a person with just a bit of common sense. But I am not a librarian. I’m just someone who would also like to understand and respect the process. But the choices this committee made this year have made that harder than ever. They deserve to be questioned, and called to task. This year, quite simply, they got it wrong.

  41. As well as being a children’s book editor, I’m the father of an 8th grader. She loves graphic novels and I shared This One Summer with her earlier this year. IMO it is a book for children–for older children, yes, but there’s nothing in the book that kids aren’t hearing at recess, on sleepovers, or on television. Like the girl in the book, they have to deal with that, and I think it’s great that there’s a book that shows a child there age doing just that.

    So, to me, it qualifies for the Caldecott–and deserves it, as one of the best graphic novels my daughter and I have read, and we’ve read a lot.

    I can understand that some parents are uncomfortable, and it’s certainly their prerogative to keep their children from reading it. But parental discomfort does not disqualify a book from the Caldecott–or any other ALA award, as far as I know.

  42. Elissa Gershowitz Elissa Gershowitz says:

    Hi Robin — I believe the based-on-a-cartoon comment stemmed from this Out of the Box post that Katie wrote, noting similarities in appearance between Beekle and a Dr. Who character. But it (Katie’s post) was all in fun 🙂
    https://www.hbook.com/2015/02/blogs/out-of-the-box/caldecott-fandom-crossovers-pt-2/#comments

  43. Sam: I just want to be very clear about something you said in an earlier comment, for you and for everyone:

    The BGHB awards committee is a separate and independent committee. It consists of one Horn Book reviewer and two other children’s book people who are not associated with The Horn Book. It is not overseen by anyone on the Horn Book staff (except for the mechanics of acquiring copies of books, etc.), and the committee does not solicit input from us as they deliberate. If THE FARMER AND THE CLOWN should be honored by the BGHB committee, it will be their own choice.

    I am hoping that those of you who have served on the BGHB committee and who have been speaking up so passionately for the integrity of the Caldecott award process will be just as vocal in your affirmation of the integrity of the BGHB Awards.

  44. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    Now I see. I was a tad confused. I think I missed a lot when I did not get started with Dr. Who! So many people love it and I always have a blank expression when people talk about it. Though that is my normal expression too…:)

  45. Thanks very much for that clarification Martha. As it turns out I needed it because I was thinking the the BGHB was decided by you, Roger, Lolly and Robin. But even had that been the case, I have always thought of the awards in the highest terms with unquestioned integrity. I was thrilled their top award for illustration last year went to MR. TIGER GOES WILD, and have applauded their choices each and every year. Not knowing until now who actually voted, I was thinking FARMER had the support to prevail. I apologize for that misconception, and subsequently applaud everything you just told me, which exudes all-encompassing integrity. As always I am looking ahead to the results. 🙂

  46. Therese Bigelow says:

    I didn’t see it as lack of breadth. More recognition of some amazing books and confirmation of how good they were. Also the committees can only choose from what is published in the year.

  47. Nina Lindsay says:

    Robert, I respect your opinion and your experience of this artwork, as a parent and a bibliophile and a participant in this discussion. All I can say is that others–particularly, readers ages 12-14 for whom the Caldecott is supposed to also serve,–do find this artwork distinguished moving. In my own experience of reading this book, the art is “sneaky”…it comes off at first as “pedestrian” which lets me identify with the scene, slip into the minute mundane details… but the rhythm and pacing of the panels, the use of temporal space to create an emotional punch, is simply oustanding. I think this only works if you are willing to give yourself to the story, and if it speaks to you.

    There is nothing wrong with any one award winner not being for any one individual. There are plenty of times that I, personally, do not “get” an award winner. Yet I find the committee’s justifications compelling, and as a librarian I *know* there are readers for these books.

  48. Sam Bloom says:

    Robert, with all due respect, did you read as many eligible books from 2014 as the members of the Caldecott committee? Did you internalize the awards criteria, including the very important fact that (quoting from this page: http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/caldecottmedal/caldecottterms/caldecottterms) “persons of ages up to and including fourteen [are the target audience] and picture books for this entire age range are to be considered.” Did you REALLY read all those titles closely, taking the time to study the art in each book (the good, the bad, and the ugly), comparing and contrasting and trying to separate one from another? Then, did you agonize over the struggle to pick only seven titles as nominations, hoping other committee members would pick your #8, #9, #10 favorites, etc., knowing full well that a lack of nominations meant those books would NOT be discussed at the committee’s deliberations in Chicago? At this point, did you take part in said deliberations, where you and 14 other really and truly dedicated and SMART teachers, librarians and – in some cases, YES! – parents, discussed, begged, pleaded, (probably) cried a little bit, hemmed and hawed perhaps a tad, and FINALLY, after two consecutive days of 8 am-10 pm and then some, came to a decision?

    I’m not asking these obviously rhetorical questions to try to be an a-hole (although at this point I think I’ve definitely crossed that bridge), I’m asking because you said yourself you would like to “understand and respect the process.” And this, in a nutshell, is the process. But when you, in the next breath, say that these hard-working folks “quite simply” got it wrong, I take issue with that. THIS ONE SUMMER might be wrong for your young daughters – I don’t know how old they are, but my young daughters are 5 and 2, so I surely can empathize – but I surely think this is the RIGHT book for many children within the award’s age range. Because we’d all agree that 12-, 13- and 14-year olds are still children, right?

    I’ve never been on the Caldecott committee, but I’ve served on other book award committees, and it is really tiring but rewarding work. They are bound by secrecy NOT to defend themselves in the midst of all of the questioning that goes on after the decisions are made. But for me personally, this year’s committee will go down as one of my all-time favorites because of their courage to do what no Caldecott committee has ever done… and because they chose 6 honors, which gives me the vapors every time I think about it. (I do LOVE lots of Honors.)

    So again, pardon my a-hole tendencies and enjoy the titles from the Caldecott list this year that ARE appropriate for your daughters. But once they hit that upper end of the criteria’s age range, might I suggest coming back and revisiting THIS ONE SUMMER? Because it does reward multiple reads, and it is, in my opinion, one of the most “distinguished American picture book[s] for children” published in 2014.

  49. Robert Gallagher says:

    Sam, with all due respect, you’re right, you’ve not only crossed the bridge, but you’ve journeyed way down the path on the other side of the river, far more than is appropriate. Perhaps you should step back, and take a breath. I didn’t realize that disagreeing with a single choice of the Caldecott committee, or criticizing that choice as being , in my opinion, inappropriate, was not allowed in this forum, or would receive such an angry and vitriolic response from you. Let me then apologize to you. I’m sorry you were so offended by my opinion. Clearly, I did not realize to whom I was speaking.

  50. Robert, you expressed an opinion, which you are entitled to do. However you confidently say it as if it were a fact. It doesn’t work that way. I am a father of five, ages 18, 17, 15, 14 and 12. I have allowed each to read the book, and they all love it, and think the art work exceptional/extraordinary. Yes, THIS ONE SUMMER did win the Printz, and it did win a Caldecott Honor. I feel it richly deserved both and still haven’t stopping applauding this amazing committee.

  51. The FARMER IN THE CLOWN. I’m still chortling. Ew.

    FWIW, I am also a parent (as well as a book reviewer and a volunteer in a school library that serves two NYC elementary schools with very different populations). I sent my then-12-year-old daughter, who had started a bunk library in her summer camp, This One Summer, among a ton of other books. It was a SMASH, the most popular book among the 12- and 13-year-old campers over the summer. Granted, these are sophisticated kids…but I’m just puttin’ that out there. Basically, I’m with Harold: there’s a lot of culture I don’t approve of for my kids, but I think this book is beautiful and so did my daughter and her friends, and while I understand how others might disapprove, that’s what makes horse races and award ceremonies.

    And again, my WAHs about honors and omissions are purely my personal WAHs. I think this committee did an amazing job.

  52. Robert Gallagher says:

    So much for that,”Be respectful, and do not attack the author or other commentators. Take on the idea, not the messenger ” thing, I guess. I must have misunderstood Sam Bloom’s reply, and his whole self-professed “crossing the bridge” and admitting his “a-hole tendencies” in this blog spot. I found his comment insulting and offensive, and your own printing of it hypocritical. Shame on you.

  53. I never saw anything suggestive in The Farmer and the Clown, nor did my students, so this has all floored me.

    When the clown baby had his hands crossed, we saw it as he felt naked without his clown face on.

  54. Diane Foote says:

    Chiming in fairly late here….still trying to digest all the news from Midwinter! Robin, as always, provides a nuanced and clear look at the ALA awards process, which I am gratified to see retains the power to get people exercised about books!
    I also appreciate the “tweaking” suggestions to some of the terms and criteria. I would like to point out though, that while “things” in award manuals get tweaked all the time, terms and criteria, as opposed to procedural stuff, do not. Many of these have remained the same since the inception of the oldest awards (Newbery began in 1922; Caldecott in 1938), which is of course part of the reason for so much of this debate. Graphic novels as such didn’t even exist then! ALSC leadership takes very seriously any change to the terms and criteria, sensitive to the awards’ history and legacy. That’s not to say they can’t be changed, but I think it’s interesting that committee members have found a way to work creatively within the existing ones.

  55. Robert Gallagher, YOU threw the first salvo when you said this:

    “Why is it so difficult to call a spade a spade, so to speak? They botched this one. And that observation is coming from a parent. And a bibliophile. And, I would like to think, a person with just a bit of common sense.”

    You basically told everyone on this thread that they have no common sense if they supported the Caldecott committee’s choice of THIS ONE SUMMER. Any then you go on to act like your parental states was exclusive. Sam (Bloom) has kids and I have five, ranging from the high end of the Caldecott span to high school and one year beyond. If there was any anger or vitriol it was spewed from your mouth. What is the “spade” you are asking us to call? Agreement with you? And since when did you render an “opinion?” Take a look at your response here again. Snide and smug through and through. You come in here like gang busters and then complain when you are fairly answered? Right.

  56. Thank you, Monica, for bringing your voice and stating so clearly what needed to be said. After the awards each year I most want to grab the ones I may have missed and hole up and read…and that is what I am doing this weekend! Can’t wait!

  57. Nina Lindsay says:

    Sam, I chaired last year’s BGHB award, and it is exactly as Martha describes…the three of us are left to decide completely on our own…it’s made explicitly clear that whatever Horn Book staff think or don’t think of a certain book has nothing to do with our process.

    That award is a nice counterpoint to this discussion actually; what I found most refreshing is that we were able to pit books against each other that aren’t normally, because of the arbitrariness of the calendar year. The BGHB award considers books published June-May. I hadn’t realized until I did it how much tunnel-vision we get thinking one calendar year’s books MUST compete ONLY with each other. Another nice aspect of the award is that it gets to be first out the gate with some great books, such as, for us last year: GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE, THE PORT CHICAGO 50, and JOSEPHINE….

    I know that TIGER GOES WILD was a very popular choice for BGHB specifically because it had not gotten any Caldecott stickers. For us, it was simply far and away the best of our particular crop. I wouldn’t get too hung up on hope for Frazee or whichever favorite you feel was not recognized this year though…because you just never know what amazing picture books may be coming out this spring. And so it goes….

  58. Barb Outside Boston says:

    Robin, there does not seem to be any reason to think Beekle (a book that I think is very good, but does not move me like Viva Frida, The RIght Word, or even Sam & Dave did) is based in any way on an Adipose.
    This seems to be convergent evolution. And I say this as a huge Whovian.

  59. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    Thanks Barb Outside Boston! I laughed when I figured out what that was all about!

  60. Barb Outside Boston says:

    Robert-
    I am a parent, an elementary school librarian and, before all that, a student in Art History (got the MA).
    When looking at the art in a graphic novel, remember it is not just there to illustrate, but is there to tell part of the story. You will rarely be able to take one panel out of the whole, frame it, and admire it next to a print of Starry Night, but that is because they are created for very different purposes.
    I went to the Swiacki Children’s Festival this year and heard Mark Teague talk about aspects of picture book illustrations that I had never considered before such as pacing and what causes the reader to turn the page. It made me a better critic of picture books and helped me understand why some books ‘felt’ better than others in which the illustrator had more obvious artistic talent.
    In other words, if you are interested in children’s book illustrations, dive in and watch the many videos available in which the illustrators talk about their craft. I think you will come away from it richer because of your ability to appreciate everything that goes into distinguished illustrations!

  61. Lynn Van Auken says:

    Hi Robin ~ I have a lot of avid GN readers in my K – 8 library, but I passed on This One Summer last summer when I was doing my Fall 14 book order due to concerns about mature content. Then, after reading Thom’s pitch for its consideration as a Caldecott, I borrowed it from our public library thinking I should give it a more thorough look.
    It wasn’t in my home more than an hour before my 15 year old daughter (an avid GN reader herself) scooped it up and read it cover-to-cover. When I asked her how it was, her response was most favorable. When I asked her if I should buy it for the YA section of my school library, she was equally adamant that I should not. When I asked her to show me specifics, and she did, there was no doubt in my mind that I would let this outstanding book be one for my students to discover when they got to high school.
    Our kids are already exposed to an abundance of mature content, in their own lives and in the media, on a daily basis. I cannot justify offering them yet another opportunity to confront language and behavior that may very well make them uncomfortable. In fact, I’d guess that realistic fiction is the least favorite genre of our middle school readers. If anything, they’re looking to escape their reality, not delve more deeply into it! In any case, there is no shortage of excellent books of all types for middle school readers that I can and do wholeheartedly recommend. Leaving TOS out of a middle school GN collection, IMHO, is neither a disservice to our students nor the book.

  62. Susan Dailey says:

    I asked this question previously, but the conversion moved to this blog entry. I’m really would like to know others’ opinions so I’ll repost.

    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.

  63. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    Susan,
    My husband and I discussed this very question on the plane home from Chicago. I just don’t know the answer. In many books–Melissa Sweet’s THE RIGHT WORD, for instance, the photographer is very important. I have heard publishers talk about it and celebrate when they find someone who can do the art proud.
    I will ask Lolly and have her get back to you. I think she is the one who will know.
    Thanks for re-asking.

  64. For the record, I just wanted to say here that I cited the original comment by Robert Gallagher (above) as the one that initiated the contentiousness that followed in my own comment which was deemed inappropriate for some reason, and removed by the HB. I basically said that Sam Bloom was a true gentleman, which he is, and that his response was more than fair considering what was originally posted by Mr. Gallagher.

  65. Nina thank so much for that wonderful clarification. It does indeed serve as a terrific counterpoint to the discussion indeed. Great to hear about the glowing regard for MR. TIGER, which is one of my own favorites too. You are a lovely person, thank so much!! 🙂

  66. Dean Schneider says:

    Congrats to Lauren Castillo for her quiet gem of a book, NANA IN THE CITY, and to Melissa Sweet for THE RIGHT WORD (also chosen as the Sibert Award winner, a terrific choice!).

  67. Susan Dailey says:

    The cover and color scheme in “Nana in the City” is amazing! So warm and inviting. The illustration detail and variety to page layout were strengths for me of “The Right Word.” Good choices in my opinion.

  68. When I heard the announcement, my thought was, “Imagine a Caldecott honor book I could not recommend to anyone younger than high school age” (at least not w/o knowing the parents). That makes me sad. Personally, I disagree with the age ranges on the awards, but I suppose that is a discussion for another time and place. Someone made the comment, just don’t give it to a 5-year-old, but what about the 9- or 10-year-old who picks it up because of that Caldecott seal? Admittedly, as I was complaining about This One Summer to someone, reviewing its content, I did remember how it’s about 12-year-olds in that in-between stage of life when the world around you starts to chip away at your innocence. So I understand, but I don’t especially like it.

    I’ve always been a supporter of creating a graphic novel award because I think a graphic novel is a different medium from an illustrated picture book or text novel and should be recognized as such. But I think Monica’s comment that graphic novels would lose out because their award is not as well known as the Caldecott and Newbery is a good point, and gives me pause. (After all, I adore El Deafo, was thrilled to see it win a Newbery honor and want it to get as much as exposure as possible.)

  69. Bonnie Elis says:

    I’ve been conducting mock Caldecott competitions with my students for several years now and have been a librarian for 23 years. One question I would like clarified is why are there generally 3 honor books awarded, but a few times 5 and 6. Though generally I’m disappointed about one of my favorites not being on the list, as I tell my students some people may be wild about a certain style of art and some not. I also want to comment that This One Summer was clearly a young adult story. I understand that the guidelines for caldecott say for up to age 14, but also the award repeatedly says in the guideline best for children, other than the age 14 it doesn’t say best illustration for ya. Some 14 yr olds may still be childlike. I’m happy it won the printz medal, but feel conflicted about it winning caldecott.

  70. Genevieve says:

    I’ve rethought my response and would have been fine with my son reading TOS at age 12 if he’d asked to. I think most of its readers will be 13 and up, but that it’s appropriate for 12-year-olds who are interested and want to read it.

  71. Jonathan Hunt says:
  72. Jonathan Hunt says:

    This may seem somewhat anti-climactic now, Robin, but I’d love to know how your student mock Caldecott went. I don’t think you ever shared the results and your insights from it . . .

  73. Robin Smith says:

    I am copying this from the (now long ago)Mock post:

    My class of second graders considered pretty much all the titles we talked about here on Calling Caldecott.
    After four ballots, including a 10-9 vote between Farmer and the Clown and Beekle for the winner, here is how things went down:
    Medal: The Farmer and the Clown
    Honor Books: Beekle, The Hug Machine, Gaston, Blizzard and Sam & Dave Dig a Hole.
    They discussed ten books–
    The Adventures of Beekle
    Sam & Dave Dig a Hole
    The Farmer and the Clown
    Letter for Leo
    Kid Sheriff
    Hug Machine
    Gaston
    The Iridescence of Birds
    Blizzard
    Viva Frida

  74. Elisa Gall says:

    Thanks for sharing, Jonathan. Kate’s post is super.

  75. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Thanks! Must have missed the earlier post.

  76. That was me, Allison. Kate Milford’s post at The Clockwork Foundry (referenced in the comments below, http://clockworkfoundry.com/2015/02/just-one-reason-there-are-many-why-this-one-summers-caldecott-honor-matters-a-lot/comment-page-1/#comment-12630 ) offers excellent responses to your question about the 9-or 10-year-old. Anecdotally, I’m not sure 10-year-olds pick up books based on the Caldecott seal (mine doesn’t, and she’s acutely aware of the ALA awards :), but if they do, they are sure to notice that there is something different about This One Summer, and they may or may not be interested in reading it.

  77. Sam Bloom says:

    Wow. I love her. Thanks, Jonathan; reading this made my day better.

  78. So, I guess it would have been possible for This One Summer to have won the Caldecott, Newbery and Printz award at the same time. Does anyone know offhand how many other books have been awarded both Newbery, Newbery Honors and a Printz or Printz honors.

  79. Also still curious about the process in determining the number of honors for Caldecott. From Robin’s intro I am inferring that when there are five or six honors, generally there may not be a consensus among the committee. Would that be an accurate assumption? I understand Caldecott guidelines don’t have a specific number for honor books awarded ( like some of the other medals) but for those of you who have been on the committee, does it start the process with a certain number of honors in mind? Is there a maximum number, could eight be awarded? Just would like some insight or if there is an article about process you can direct me too. (I have read the guidelines on Caldecott page, doesn’t seem clear.) When I do my mock caldecott, we try to pick the winner and three honors, but maybe should rethink number.

  80. There is no number in mind when the process starts. The committee looks at how the numbers fall during balloting and make the decision at that point based on which books they feel qualify and the point spreads. There is no max or minimum number listed in the manual. This is how Mock Caldecotts I’ve participated in have worked as well.

    Hope that helps!

  81. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    Bonnie:
    More on honors.
    The Manual is mighty murky on this question, leaving people to postulate. I can imagine many scenarios (is the the plural) that would lead a committee to have a lot of honor books, which is why I went crazy with guessing in my original post. Whatever it was, I bet it was interesting!
    As for Mocks, I try to railroad my students to look at the voting (all the ballots) before deciding on honor books. Usually, they are able to see patterns in the voting (the same 4-6 books ending up at the top over and over) even when they wish they saw their near-the-top-but-not-AT-the-top book in the mix. At some point, even the most ardent fan of a book has to admit she is alone in her adoration. This helps move the group to consensus pretty quickly.
    I have always been a fan of lots of honor books, but the year I was on Caldecott, we had just two honor books. Go figure.
    In my class, I aim for a number my teeny brain can remember: 1 winner and 3-4 honors. The numbers work on that way most of the time, even this year, when we had a run off for first.

  82. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    I don’t think that’s ever happened.
    I do remember that Sibert and the YA Nonfiction and Newbery awarded Bomb a collection of stickers. That was pretty amazing.

  83. LIZZIE BRIGHT AND THE BUCKMINSTER BOY got Newbery and Printz honors in 2005.

    HOUSE OF THE SCORPION got Newbery and Printz honors in 2003.

  84. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    I misread your query, Bonnie. Yes, there have been crossovers. I need to read more slowly.

  85. Carole Koneff says:

    I enjoyed reading everybody’s comments here. It has been a most enlightening few minutes between classes. I think that a lot of us do activities with the Caldecott winners. I have been doing it for years, showing my students the books, always throwing in a red herring and asking them once they have voted what their thoughts are about the committee’s choices. I too heard all the buzz about THE FARMER AND THE CLOWN which I have recently acquired and think just beautiful. I too saw no perversion whatsoever and am saddened to read that, I’m sure Marla Frazee would be saddened to. I agree that I think the little clown was nervous and covered himself because he felt naked without his clown face. I felt sure that SEPARATE IS NEVER EQUAL would be there too, but am not sure if the illustrator qualified, I believe I am right in saying that they must either be American or live here, if someone could confirm that I would be grateful. I am still waiting to see THIS ONE SUMMER as it has been out of stock for a while. I am not a huge fan of the graphic format, but that is just my own personal opinion, my students love it. I really enjoyed EL DEAFO and think that if any graphic novel (memoir/non-fiction version of same) was worthy of a Caldecott that might have been it! Again, like many people weighing in today I have never been, nor would ever want the stress of being, on a Caldecott or Newbery committee. I wish I knew what exactly the process was, that I might better understand or trust it, as I was a little gobsmacked at the choice of THIS ONE SUMMER, but again, have still to actually read the whole thing before my opinion is completely settled. As far as parents go, yes indeed, they do mindlessly trust these award stickers and I have often had to enlighten parents on the “up to the age of 14” criteria, especially when Neil Gaiman won for THE GRAVEYARD BOOK and one of my first graders said they had it bought it that weekend!

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