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Announcing the 2017 Calling Caldecott winners

Our Mock Caldecott vote has concluded. Thanks to everyone (if our numbers and math are correct, over 600 of you—a record number) who participated. There may be hope for us all if we all still care this passionately about picture books.

They All Saw a Cat

The winner of our Mock Caldecott, with a phenomenally high 1026 total points, is They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel. No other book came close, really. And the number of first-place votes it received (152) far outstripped the other contenders. So, we would have a winner even going by the Real Committee rules (under which the winning book must received a majority of first-place votes among the fifteen committee members). From the Caldecott Manual:

“There is a formula to determine the winner. A book must receive at least 8 first choices at four points per vote for a total of at least 32 points, and it must have an 8 point lead over the book receiving the next highest number of points.”

Here are the full results:

1st choice
(4 points)
2nd choice
(3 points)
3rd choice
(2 points)
Total points
The Airport Book
23 41 54  323
Before Morning
 50  40  50  420
Du Iz Tak?
 46  61  54  475
Freedom in Congo Square
 57  42  41  436
Miracle Man
 50  22  24  314
Radiant Child
 31  49  49  369
Some Writer!
 78  73  66  663
The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles
 43  55  47  431
They All Saw a Cat
 152  90  74  1026
This Is Not a Picture Book!
 40  42  37  360
Thunder Boy Jr.
 53  55  65  507
We Found a Hat!
 19  58  58  366


Here’s a visual picture of the results:



Now, on to the choosing of the honor books. Again, from the Manual:

“Immediately following determination of the winner of the Caldecott Medal, and following appropriate discussion, the committee will entertain the following:

  • Whether honor books will be named.
  • Whether the committee wishes to choose as honor books the next highest books on the original winning ballot or to ballot again.
  • If the committee votes to use the award-winning ballot, they must then determine how many honor books to name.
  • If the committee chooses to ballot for honor books, only books that received points on the award winning ballot may be included. The same voting procedure is followed as for the award winner.
  • If the committee has chosen to ballot for honor books, following that ballot, the committee will vote how many books of those receiving the highest number of points are to be named honor books.”

This year, which saw such a richness of varied and extraordinary picture books, would seem to cry out for as many books to be recognized as possible, and hence a large number of honor books. Here, looking at the graph above, we have two titles that clearly separate themselves from the pack — but there’s no way we’re awarding just one honor book this year. Right? Two other books besides They All Saw a Cat received more than 500 total points in our mock Caldecott. Six other books received 400 or more total points. In the interests of celebrating the riches before us, we decided to err on the side of generosity and award six honor books. (But you can see how the decision could easily have gone a different way — and how that decision might have been justified.)

On a Real Committee, faced with such numbers of books with such similar vote tallies, the chair may well have called for another ballot to get a clearer distinction, a clearer cut-off point, in order to find the books that would rise to the top and thus determine the honor books. Here, our mock balloting is finished. And so our six chosen honor books are Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White by Melissa Sweet (with 663 points); Thunder Boy Jr., illustrated by Yuyi Morales (with 507 points); Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis, (with 475 points); Freedom in Congo Square, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (with 436 points); The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles, illustrated by Erin E. Stead (with 431 points); and Before Morning, illustrated by Beth Krommes (with 420 points).

2017 Calling Caldecott honor books


There we have it. Congratulations to all!

We want to thank everyone who participated in Calling Caldecott this year. Thanks to our heroic Guest Posters: Sam Bloom, Eric Carpenter, Julie Danielson, Angela Frederick, Elisa Gall, Patrick Gall, Elissa Gershowitz, Alia Jones, Travis Jonker, Yoomi An Larmee, Minh Le, Cathie Mercier, Becky Reiser, Dean Schneider, and Emmie Stuart. They brought fresh eyes and fresh voices to our coverage, and we are truly grateful. Thanks too to everyone who commented this fall and to everyone who voted this past week.

We will have further coverage from the ALA Midwinter conference, which begins this Friday — including, of course, a report on the Actual Winners, which will be announced at Monday morning’s Youth Media Awards press conference. The announcement can’t help but be compelling, given the choices the Real Committee have this year. So many amazing books! And who knows which ones will actually rise to the top behind the closed doors of the deliberating 2017 Caldecott Committee? I don’t envy them their task.




  1. Sam Juliano says:

    I mourn for Sergio Ruzzier, Jevaka Steptoe, Jon Klassen, John Hendrix and Lisa Brown as ALL are fantastic books, but the results are glorious and generous!

    Yes anything can happen Monday, But it does seem to me that the writing if on the wall with one specific book. Certainly a mighty great one as are the six fabulous Honor books awarded here.

  2. Oh I was so hoping for Some Writer! Tough competition this year. Congrats to the winner!

  3. What a wild card year this one is (or feels to me).

  4. Robin Lynn Smith says:

    Dear all,
    Forgive this long “comment.”
    Yes, Jules, it was a wild card year! When I look at the voting of the readership, it makes me all the more grateful that the Real Committee’s deliberations will be secret and that the people on the real committee have a whole year to do their research. They will not be influenced by online or offline popularity contests like our blog probably is. Like most of you, I live in the social media world and am able to see people share our ballot and ask their friends to vote for their favorite books. It’s natural to want to support your favorite books, but that is the opposite of what really happens on the committee. (When real committee members might state aloud during discussion how much children or their parents love a book, the chair or other members will be very quick to remind the whole committee that popularity is not part of this award.)
    When Sam mourns for Sergio or Javaka or anyone else, I get it. But I know the committee does not care about Calling Caldecott or any other blog–they will dig much deeper and each of the members of the committee will have read each of the titles very very carefully, over and over again. AND, they will vote much more carefully than I voted with our little online ballot, knowing that each vote can push a book forward…or knock it off the table. I well remember the sickening feeling when I voted my year. I would fold my ballot in half and reluctantly turn it in, knowing that I would never have enough space on that ballot to honor all the books I loved. Some books were simply not going to win a spot on the slate. Gulp. That third place slot takes a long time to decide.

    The other part of voting that is difficult to describe is the how honor books are decided. That is left rather cloudy, isn’t it? It can be rather challenging to decide what to do about honor books. On one hand, the committee is ecstatic about deciding on a winner. On the other hand, the committee has to get past that heady feeling, take a short break and then hash out the honor books. It is Not Easy.
    I hope that Calling Caldecott has helped our readers find new books and appreciate each of them–now we all wait for the announcements on Monday morning. I am very excited. Some of my favorites are not even on the second ballot, which is often the case. I think there will be some surprises on Monday morning–I hope so!

  5. Allison Grover Khoury says:

    Well, I’m stunned by our results! I was not expecting They All Saw A Cat to be the winner of our mock Caldecott vote. As much as I like it, and enjoy the illustrations SO much, plus my students LOVE it (!!), it was not even on my voting decision radar.
    Can’t wait for Monday. My students are very excited – we are voting this week in each class for a medal and two honors and the results are wildly different.
    Thanks, too, Robin for your further explanation. I really understand so little about the voting process even tho’ I read the criteria every year, and study the explanations.
    I mourn Giant Squid – from the first round to the second – just so incredible. And I am sad about Radiant Child – one of my top books of the year.
    Thanks to everyone again this year – just love this blog – feel parched all summer til we hear from you in September.

  6. Alyson Whatcott says:

    Great list! So happy to see They All Saw a Cat on the top of your list. Our class (second graders in Acton, MA) held a Mock Caldecott as well. Here is our list:

    Winner: Leave Me Alone, by Vera Brogsol
    Honors: Nanette’s Bagette, by Mo Willems
    Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis
    They All Saw a Cat, by Brenden Wenzel

    Alyson Whatcott
    Merriam Elementary
    Grade 2
    Acton, MA

  7. Emmie Stuart says:

    Robin, Martha, and Lolly,

    Thanks for such organizing and providing such a wonderful place to discuss picture books during the months leading up to the ALA awards. The thoughtful and enriching discussions on Calling Caldecott provide an extra dimension to the 2016 picture book year. The insights from the three of you regarding the Caldecott criteria as well as the selection process and committee procedures are so valuable! So from all the readers of Calling Caldecott…thank-you, thank-you for your hard work and dedication.

  8. I’m pretty happy with these results! I hope the real committee will give more love to RADIANT CHILD and FREEDOM IN CONGO SQUARE! Such powerful stories & illustrations. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to write about LEAVE ME ALONE! As always, it’s fun to come to this space and talk about good books. 🙂

  9. Sam Juliano says:

    “But I know the committee does not care about Calling Caldecott or any other blog–they will dig much deeper and each of the members of the committee will have read each of the titles very very carefully, over and over again. AND, they will vote much more carefully than I voted with our little online ballot, knowing that each vote can push a book forward…or knock it off the table. I well remember the sickening feeling when I voted my year. I would fold my ballot”

    Robin, obviously there is quite a bit of truth to the first part of your statement as two years ago after THE FARMER AND THE CLOWN dominated Calling Caldecott and was a huge favorite with the Horn Book writers and many other on line sites, it failed to finish in the Top 7 of the Real Committee. I am not myself complaining as though I did like the book (and like it now even more) I did not vote for it on the Calling Caldecott ballot. The result that year confirms a position I have maintained for decades, and I say this as a newly-minted and appreciative member of the American Library Association: It is highly unlikely that different committees will come up with the same results no matter how many times they look at the books. There can never be a BEST here or in any other awards in all the other arts. Art is subjective. But I understand that the Caldecotts never intended that designation. What they do each and every years is the best possible manner to hand out awards – get a relatively smaller group (15 or 16) and let them disect an ungodly number of books under the specified guidelines. But as we saw with FARMER, there is a great deal of “taste” to be accounted for in the final balloting. Not a special ability to ascertain flaws or inherent attributes but taste and perception. Taste will always play a major role. As a classroom teacher and a review writer I know I have looked at these books 50 to 60 times each, some even more. Every new viewing brought something new to the table pro or con. It all depends on how serious each person is with this system and the books themselves. I am not on the committee but I have been living and breathing these titles all through the year. I know there are a number of others not on the committee who have been too, not to mention the vigilant writers from the major blogs. Then there is the matter of PAST committee members who now only have a say on the Calling Caldecott blog. Surely these past members understand and appreciate a book’s artistry within the proper specifications. I respect the committee GREATLY. And whatever result they come up with on Tuesday I will celebrate it. I will promote it. I will talk as if the results are the final word on picture book awards for the year. And I will go in pocket to make sure that I own the same books all over again just to have the medals on them. But deep down I know the results in part comes down to the committee’s artistic dynamic and how quickly said committee makes the final decisions. A slower process could indicate more honor books, a faster one less honor books. I am just speculating here. I don’t know for sure. I know you were on the committee and know the ins and outs, I am an outsider just attempting to get an idea in my mind how it all comes to pass. Perhaps the GREATEST compliment I can give any committee member is not how they exercise subjective artistic judgement, but rather how they manage to set aside personal feelings for artists and authors they may have had a longtime reverence for. That to me is inordinately difficult. I honor and respect the ALA system. They do after all now represent me and all the other members. I will openly defend their final choices.

    When I said I mourned the five artists whose books didn’t make the final cut after they passed into the second and final round of the Calling Caldecott, I basically was saying “too bad they all couldn’t get Calling Caldecott Honors” but we know that is not remotely possible. As it is the Horn Book opted for a more generous embrace, and ever a proponent of more honors I applaud the decision vigorously. But I was speaking only of the Horn Book’s vote, not anything about what will happen Tuesday or about what the committee thinks of the Horn Book results. The committee of course will put aside any of that as well they should. The last four years the Calling Caldecott Final Winner did NOT match up with the Actual Winner:

    2013: HBCC Winner – Extra Yarn Caldecott Winner – This is Not My Hat
    2014: HBCC Winner – Journey Caldecott Winner – Locomotive
    2015: HBCC Winner – The Farmer and the Clown Caldecott Winner – Adventures of Beekle
    2016: HBCC Winner – Last Stop at Main Street Caldecott Winner: Finding Winnie

    In all but ONE instance the HBCC winner did receive an HONOR. I will say this. I dod think the HBCC winner if 2013 was the right one. I feel Klassen’s greater book was and is EXTRA YARN. The committee gave both books medals but opted to go with HAT for the top one.

    I predict the run will be broken on Monday morning when the Real Committee anoints THEY ALL SAW A CAT for the gold. But my prediction is worthless, especially as I have been wrong way more than I have been right. And when the results are announced I will mourn those books that I am particularly sad about being omitted. But I will mourn for maybe one hour.

    Then I will celebrate and promote what my fellow ALA members have exhaustively and painstakingly chosen. 🙂

    Robin, I must thank you, Martha, Lolly, Sam, Alia, Thom (and of course Roger) and many others for this exhaustive coverage, one I deeply looked forward to and appreciated greatly. I know well the work, dedication and passion that went into it, and was enriched by the entire experience. Thank you too for allowing me to express my own views.

  10. Rachel Payne says:

    Thanks for a great discussion! I have mostly been lurking, but I have enjoyed dipping in from time to time. I second what Robin has said, that choosing honor books is a difficult process. The manual is murky at best. While I love the diversity of the six honor books selected by Calling Caldecott, a real committee, looking at that point spread, could have made a different choice. They could have stopped honor recognition at Some Writer or even Thunder Boy, jr., deciding that 1-2 honors is just fine.

    Can’t wait to hear what the 2017 committee honors! Wishing them well as they gather in their secret room tomorrow.

  11. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Six honor books? ????

  12. Sam Juliano says:

    “I’m pretty happy with these results! I hope the real committee will give more love to RADIANT CHILD and FREEDOM IN CONGO SQUARE! Such powerful stories & illustrations. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to write about LEAVE ME ALONE! As always, it’s fun to come to this space and talk about good books. :)”

    The above comment was posted of course by Alia Jones! Wow! She really ROCKS!!!!

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