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The 2018 Robin Smith Picture Book Prize

We here at Calling Caldecott think often of Robin Smith — beloved second-grade teacher, reviewer, and enthusiastic co-author of this blog before her untimely death last June. Her passion for and astute observations of picture books infuse the work we continue to do here, every day. Every. Single. Day. We wanted to do something special to recognize her contribution to our field in general and this blog in particular, in a way that would honor her legacy and celebrate her love of picture books. In that spirit, we hereby launch an award in her memory here at Calling Caldecott: the Robin Smith Picture Book Prize. Every year, we will choose and recognize one picture book we think Robin would have loved. A book that exemplifies what she looked for in picture books, as a devotee, teacher, parent, reviewer.

And now that the blog has wrapped up for the season and the Real Committee has made its Real choices, it seems like a good time to bestow and announce the inaugural Robin Smith Picture Book Prize. So…drumroll, please (this was a tough decision!)…the first-ever Robin Smith Picture Book Prize goes to:

We think Robin would have loved Mac Barnett’s and Jon Klassen’s The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse. She would have appreciated many elements of this book, including the textured illustrations and the high-quality paper. (She was a stickler for good paper.) But Robin was also a second-grade teacher, who particularly enjoyed reading out loud to her students. She especially valued picture books with strong writing, as well as funny books that make for entertaining read-alouds. We can imagine her in her classroom rocking chair, her students sitting in front of her on the rug, as she launches into the book and shares the wry humor of this compelling story. How easily we can envision her yelling “CHARGE!” as she shared that wonderful spread of the duck and the mouse, helmeted with a saucepan and colander, exiting the wolf. We can hear her laughing now — and what a great laugh she had!

Congratulations to The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse — and, Robin, how we miss you.

The winner of the annual Robin Smith Picture Book Prize, we are sorry to say, receives no fancy gold medals, book stickers, coins, or bills. But it does have the Robin seal of approval, which — at least to those of us who knew and loved her — means a whole heapin’ lot.


Julie Danielson About Julie Danielson

Julie Danielson writes about picture books at the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. She also writes for Kirkus Reviews and BookPage and is a lecturer for the School of Information Sciences graduate program at the University of Tennessee. Her book Wild Things!: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, written with Betsy Bird and Peter D. Sieruta, was published in 2014.



  1. Deborah Taylor says:

    This is a terrific tribute. One of my best memories is walking through ALA exhibits with Robin and seeing picture books through her eyes. I miss her every day.

  2. Monica Edinger says:

    Lovely and an apt choice.

  3. Elizabeth Bicknell says:

    Oh, my goodness. I’m so pleased and moved by this news.

  4. Dee Dee Beckwith says:

    Just Awesome! I can’t wait to buy the book.

  5. What a great pick! I love this book, and I think my mom would too.

  6. What a wonderful idea!

  7. Jennifer Budde says:

    This is the perfect way to honor an amazing teacher and someone who truly loved children’s books. So happy to see this!

  8. Thank you for this, Jules! I can absolutely hear Robin’s voice!

  9. Margaret Wilson says:

    Oh, this made my whole day. What a great way to honor such an inspirational person. I was thinking of her today as I read a book aloud to a group of third graders!

  10. This is the BEST, the Balm. A Robin seal of approval. It doesn’t get any better than that 💖
    Thank you Hornbook. You just made my day.

  11. Dean Schneider says:

    Thank you so much for doing this. What a tribute to my wife. She loved picture books and Calling Caldecott. so much. I now have a tall, thin bookcase in my house that holds just six picture books Robin loved or would have loved, faced out–the Caldecott Medal winner when she was on Caldecott, A SICK DAY FOR AMOS MCGEE; this year’s Caldecott Medal winner (the committee I was on), WOLF IN THE SNOW; and now THE WOLF, THE DUCK, & THE MOUSE. (The other three are Roxaboxen, Miss Rumphius, and Ashley Bryan’s Freedom Over Me.) I’m sad that Robin couldn’t see the fruits of my Caldecott Committee year, but I know she would have so appreciated this honor from her beloved Calling Caldecott blog. Thank you.

  12. Oh, what a perfect choice! This was my favorite picture book of last year and I agree – Robin would have loved it.


  13. Kim Baust says:

    Perfect choice. I love this book. Maybe because I too learned to look at picture books through Robin’s eyes.

  14. Karen Kosko says:

    A fitting tribute to a remarkable person and a generous friend. Thanks for honoring Robin.

  15. Allison Grover Khoury says:

    I love this so much. Thank you for doing this.

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