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The Official 2019 Caldecott Winners

2019 Caldecott winners

The day has come! The 2019 Caldecott Medal Selection Committee has made its choices.

The winner is:

Hello Lighthouse, written and illustrated by Sophie Blackall. (This is her second Caldecott Medal — Finding Winnie won in 2016).

The honor books are:

Alma and How She Got Her Name, written and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

The Rough Patch, written and illustrated by Brian Lies

A Big Mooncake for Little Star, written and illustrated by Grace Lin

Thank You, Omu!, written and illustrated by Oge Mora

As you can see, the winner of the 2019 Calling Caldecott mock vote, Yuyi Morales’s Dreamers, is nowhere to be seen on the actual Caldecott list. Remember how we wrote in this post last Friday that our readers tend to have an impressive track record of picking as our mock award winners ones that, in the real world, go on to receive Caldecott honors? Well, that certainly wasn’t the case this year.

The big winner this morning, Sophie Blackall’s Hello Lighthouse, was chosen by our readers as a mock honor book. Our readers chose Grace Lin’s A Big Mooncake for Little Star as an honor book, and it received a Caldecott Honor this morning. Thank You, Omu! and Alma and How She Got Her Name, also named Caldecott Honor books today, were on our first mock ballot but didn’t make it to the second round.

And Brian Lies’s The Rough Patch?! We love surprises here at Calling Caldecott, and we got one! We didn’t cover it here at all. (Jules did talk to Brian Lies last year about the book over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast if you’d like to read more about the book here.)

How many of you tuned in to the live webcast of the youth media awards announcement, or were there in person? Were you surprised by the Caldecott choices? Were you pleased with the number of honor books named this morning? Did you catch the subtle collective gasp (those of you watching the livestream, that is, or those of you in the room itself) when they announced there would be four of them? That’s not a small amount for Caldecott honor books! (It’s certainly not like 2015, the year in which SIX honor books were named, but there could have been just one or two honors. This year, for instance, the Newbery chose only two honor books.) And remember how we’ve mentioned several times this year here at Calling Caldecott that it’s been a spectacular year for books by women illustrators? All but one of the illustrators recognized by the Caldecott this year are women — and three of them are women of color.

What did you all think? Pour your hearts out in the comments, if you’re so inclined.

About Julie Danielson, Martha Parravano, and Lolly Robinson

Julie Danielson, Martha Parravano, and Lolly Robinson are authors of the Calling Caldecott blog.



  1. Fair enough then. I’ll put my heart out!

    I have come to this conclusion. Winning The Horn Book Mock Caldecott is the “kiss of death.” I can’t even remember how far back they have aligned but it has been 6 or 7 years at least (maybe more than that!) But this year the failure of DREAMERS to land any of the medals is admittedly a surprise unmatched by any other. The closest shock would be when THE FARMER AND THE CLOWN was upended by THE ADVENTURES OF BEEKLE. The most reliable pundits confidently opined: “Right time, right pace, right situation” etc, Of course what many of us on the outside (especially me as I am not like all of you part of the process for so many years) didn’t reckon with was that the 2019 committee wasn’t buying into mass consensus and political correctness. Mind you DREAMERS is a lovely book but a lovely human being and fantastic artist. But HELLO LIGHTHOUSE is simply a staggering, ravishing picture book masterpiece, and to these eyes her very very BEST work. Like everyone else I too love her art in A FINE DESERT and her previous Caldecott Gold medal winner FINDING WINNIE but this lighthouse jewel is her best yet in every sense. So yeah, this means twice in short order, but so be it. We saw that happen with Chris Raschka who won twice within a five or six year period (for the record I felt GRANDPA GREEN should have won the gold before A Ball For Daisy I book I still haven’t warmed to) and David Weisner has been a huge ALA favorite. Few art lovers will contest today’s win for the lovely Ms. Blackall. Still I mourn for Yuyi Morales, one of the classiest persons you

    In any case I always look to Calling Caldecott and Julie’s blog (as well as Betsy Bird at SLJ) for guidance in negotiating my own Caldecott Medal Contender series, so it appears people everywhere were in shock at the Brian Lies win. Lovely and touching book but nobody figured….. Surprises are very nice though. But when Betsy Bird’s two proclaimed “absolute locks” (DREAMERS and BLUE) are total no-shows you have further proof that making predictions is foolhardy. Travis Jonker did well though picking 3 of 5, (missing on Dreamers like the rest of the world and on They Say Blue) But aside from Jonker online everyone did poorly and didn’t foresee the omission of Dreamers and perhaps even ALMA’s showing (to be sure a gorgeous and touching book) in addition to the Brian Lies eye-opener.

    But stupendous books like BLUE, JULIAN IS A MERMAID, THEY SAY BLUE, THE FIELD, IMAGINE, OCEAN MEETS SKY, SEEING INTO TOMORROW, THE WALL IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BOOK, IF I HAD A HORSE and NOTHING STOPPED SOPHIE among others were also missing, and any of those could have been excellent additions. Another 15 members would have gone another direction, but this is the beauty of this method. We had a magisterial Medal winner here and FOUR fantastic choices for the Honor including the Calling Caldecott A BIG MOONCAKE FOR LITTLE STAR. (CC also gave HELLO LIGHTHOUSE an Honor so the groups connected there too).

    Just kidding about the kiss of death though. 🙂 Over the years CC has done as well as the actual committees, just some divergences in taste.

  2. typos: Still I mourn for Yuyi Morales, one of the classiest persons you (can meet)

    And Sophie Blackall for the artist of Hello Lighthouse fo course.

  3. Thank You, Omu! I’m so happy to see that one on the honor list. I instantly loved that book at first read. Hello Lighthouse is well deserving, although for some reason it did still surprise me. Big Mooncake and How Alma Got Her Name are great but definitely weren’t my favorites this year, and I’ve still never even seen Rough Patch!…but I have it on reserve 🙂

  4. This blog was what brought Thank You Omu to my attentions, and now I have classrooms of kids very pleased that it won an honor, instead of being disappointed that they’d “missed” it. While it didn’t quite make our Mock honors, it was only by a few points, and was one of our more popular Mock books this year. Big Mooncake had a strong following as well.

    I am so so happy that Hello Lighthouse won! It was one of my top picks for months. Two of my other favorites, Dreamers and Drawn Together picked up other awards, which helped with my disappointment that they didn’t get any Caldecott love. I’ll have to console myself that Laura Vacarro Seeger has been honored before, but I know my students will be disappointed that Blue didn’t get anything.

  5. Paula Guiler says:

    My students are still in the middle of our Mock Caldecott, but I can predict right now that their winner will be The Rough Patch. They’ll be tickled that it’s an honor book. My personal choice was Julian Is a Mermaid. I remember a reviewer-maybe one of you?- agreeing with my thoughts that gender and gender roles were not a thing in this book, (however the other librarians in my district refused to allow it to be on our list because they were afraid of controversy, no matter how much I pleaded for book that reflect their patrons) but I was tickled that it won the Stonewall Award.

  6. This year’s committee was also “visionary” as their ceaseless year-round repeated examination of books ended with the naming of THE ROUGH PATCH a book I somehow missed or set aside because I had the wrong perception upon its release. But I know the ever cognizant Julie Danielson did do a yeoman presentation on the book.

    In any case as of yesterday all my classes have fallen head over heals for this book as I have have in a big way. The aspects of grief are handles powerfully and tastefully especially ‘anger.’ Several double page spreads like the pumpkin bonanza are magnificent and white space is employed hauntingly. The look into the box and then the last page vignette of the pick up truck heading off with the new acquisition is like “City Dog, Country Frog” a potent expression of the life cycle and renewal. When the book was announced as a winner I was crestfallen but realized shortly after I rushed off to our local library that it was a stroke fo genius from the 2019 committee.

    Like Paula (above) I too adore Julian is a Mermaid and thought it had a excellent chance. Stonewall Award was very nice indeed. Also agree with Alys as my kids overwhelmingly chose Blue as their Mock Caldecott winner. Sad on Dreamers, Drawn Together and other books that were so deserving, but I don’t think the committee can be faulted for the books they did choose. All are masterpieces methinks.

  7. Allison Grover Khoury says:

    I was surprised by the books that won awards and I can’t figure out why. I had studied them all and read them all and was ready and hopeful for them all. Still – so many confident voices for certain titles like Dreamers somehow convinced me. I feel as if I could start gushing now over each book as they are all so excellent. I’ve had a special place in my heart for Thank You, Omu! since I first saw it. And A Big Mooncake for Little Star – I love that book.
    I don’t know why I like more books to get awards than less, so I am happy about 4 honor books. The year there were 6 felt like such an embarrassment of riches, but I secretly hope for that number each year. I think, looking back, that I assumed that Dreamers and Drawn Together were very likely candidates along with Hello Lighthouse. All three of these are so remarkable. I hadn’t had much hope for Hello Lighthouse, perhaps because of Sophie Blackall’s recent win with Finding Winnie (?). I admit being saddened that A Parade of Elephants and We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga did not get any Caldecott appreciation..
    Thanks again for a very fine year – this is always so much fun and so gratifying. A respite with kindred spirits.

  8. Susan Dailey says:

    Although I’m surprised that “Dreamers” and “Drawn Together” didn’t get Caldecott love, I’m pleased with the winners. What I noticed was that all 5 books were written by the illustrators.

    Since 2000 (20 years), 89 books have been recognized by the committees and 54 of them are by an author/illustrator (61%). When considering just the winners, 15 of the 20 were by author/illustrators (75%). One of the exceptions was a “Sick Day for Amos McGee” written by Erin Stead’s husband, Philip (so pretty close to an author/illustrator) Another was Sophie Blackall’s “Finding Winnie,” This seems logical to me because the author/illustrator has a full vision of what they want the book to be.

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