Subscribe to The Horn Book

We’re baaack!

I am not going to lie. The heat here in Nashville makes me crazy this time of year. It’s September, people. Time for cool weather and Calling Caldecott! We have been collecting picture books, dusting off our Caldecott Manual, and getting serious.

For those of you who are new to us, welcome.

For those returning, welcome back.

We are Robin Smith, Lolly Robinson, and Martha Parravano. Lolly and Martha are creative geniuses at The Horn Book Magazine, and I am a second grade teacher at Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee.

Each year, we like to (or have to!) shake things up a little. This year, I am chairing ALA’s Geisel committee, which recognizes the most distinguished books for early readers. I am serving with six amazing librarians and teachers who are dedicated to finding the best books for emerging readers. Although this is a fabulous opportunity for me, serving on these committees carries one particular burden: I am not allowed to talk about or review books that might be submitted to my committee for the award. Uh-oh. There is a lot of crossover between books that might be submitted to both the Caldecott and Geisel committees, so this year on Calling Caldecott I will restrict myself to talking about wordless books and books with lots of words—picture books with lots of text—and not the ones in between.

That leaves Martha and Lolly with a pile of reading and reviewing, doesn’t it? Lucky for you, as Martha and Lolly are great at writing what you want: in-depth analysis of picture books through the lens of the Caldecott criteria. Lolly and Martha spend their days immersed in book evaluation and always have new insights. There will be guest posts, too! We have friends who are generous with their time and who will open our minds about their favorite books…or books that give them pause.

Here’s how it’ll go down: this coming Thursday, we three will list some of our individual favorites of 2015 — or at least some of the picture books that have caught our attention in a Caldecott kind of way. In the comments YOU will suggest titles you are especially fond of or curious about. You can “second the motion” as well — suggest titles from our little lists, too — to help us see what people are really interested in. That’s how it works on the actual Caldecott committee. The members suggest titles and read the titles other members suggest. Then they “vote” for the titles by suggesting them, too.

So, start thinking of books you have loved this year. Keep in mind the basic eligibility rules: American citizen or resident is the big one. That’s for the illustrator. A book has to be published in the USA in 2015, in English, and be original work (i.e., not a reissue or previously published elsewhere). Other than those requirements, given last year’s choices, the sky’s the limit (and we’ll talk more about that later). Come back on Thursday and see what we are thinking about. Suggest your own or agree with us on the titles you really love.

We can’t wait to start!

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.



  1. Hey Robin!
    My wordless favorite, so far, is Float by Daniel Miyares. I love the movement, great use of color, and the terrific pacing.

  2. All right! All my favorite award contender blogs are back! My top favorite is A Fine Dessert (definitely not Geisel eligible!). Also: If You Plant a Seed, Little Bird Takes a Bath, My Pen, and The Bear Ate Your Sandwich.

  3. Hi Robin, YAY, so happy you are back!!!! I’ve been fanatically checking every day for weeks, hoping against hope you might post early. And then, couldn’t check the last 2 days. I’m looking forward to the list.
    I’m also trying to convince my son’s school to let me do a Caldecott unit in the 1-3rd grade classes and am overwhelmed with what I’ve found online for curriculum ideas. I wondered if you or any other readers could contact me (in all your spare time!) with any pointers, or what you do. One of our third grade teachers will help me write a grant for the books. I’m one of the volunteer school librarians, so we have no budget of our own to buy books.

    I wanted to agree that I also like A Fine Dessert andThe Bear Ate Your Sandwich.

    At this moment I’m writing a review for our school newsletter of Grandma in Blue with Red Hat – one of my favorites of the early part of the year.

    I’d love to know what others think of The Day the Crayons Came Home. Very clever.

  4. A Fine Dessert seemed like a perfect book to me. And it was delicious.

    But I also want to mention Tomie dePaola’s Look and Be Grateful. His charming and engaging style is refined to a purity and simplicity that truly astounded me.

  5. Welcome Back! I must say I do share everyone’s love for A FINE DESSERT, which is certainly in my view a strong Caldecott contender or deserves to be. I am still sorting out which books belong in the running, so I can’t yet say which books I am partial to. I’ve been buying on line and at festivals, and taking books out from the library on loan. And I know we have almost three months left for release dates. Plenty of fun ahead. 🙂

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind