Calling Caldecott 2021

Hello, dear readers. It’s good to have you back as we kick off this year’s Calling Caldecott season.

Ordinarily, I’d write something about how Calling Caldecott is one of many things I like about fall and winter, along with sweater weather and the possibility of snow. But there’s nothing ordinary about this year, is there? Do you wish you had a dime for every time you heard “these uncertain times” to refer to the year 2020?

It’s been an incredible year — and I mean the unbelievable kind of incredible, not the wonderful kind. The pandemic has had many of us sheltered in place for nearly half a year now; millions of people no longer have jobs; and, saddest of all, lives have been lost to the virus.

We are also witnessing people rise up in defiance all across the country, as America reckons with its racist past and present. In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in May, for one, we saw a record number of protests. If you’ve been paying attention to race in this country, you know that protests about the deaths of Black people have been happening for a long time now, but this one seemed different. Much of white America finally (and belatedly) had the epiphany that Black Lives Matter. The New York Times reported that the protests peaked in early June when half a million people turned out in more than 500 places across the United States. Half a million. This is also incredible — both kinds of incredible.

Then came July, when we had no choice but to adjust to a world without Congressman John Lewis.

Oh, and there’s this little election coming up in November. We hear repeatedly that it’ll be the most important election of our lifetime. That’s not the first time a presidential election has been described that way, perhaps, but this one is undeniably critical.

What does all of this have to do with Calling Caldecott? We simply want to acknowledge that it’s been an unusual and difficult year. We are living in the midst of a viral pandemic, as well as what lawyer Benjamin Crump called at George Floyd’s memorial service “the pandemic of racism and discrimination.” Given this, I bet a lot of us are moved in new ways by Kwame Alexander’s The Undefeated, which garnered Kadir Nelson the 2020 Caldecott Medal.

We still plan to carry on with our Calling Caldecott season. We will take a look at some of 2020’s most spectacular picture books, and we hope that during “these uncertain times” you get some joy out of reading about the books that have been published this year — the beautiful, breathtaking, eloquent, subversive, inspiring, quirky, moving, and compelling picture books that we’ve seen in the hands of children. We already have a large group of guest posters who have committed to contributing this year, for which we are grateful. We can’t wait to hear what our discerning guests have to say about the picture books they’ve seen.

Early next week, we will post the list of books we plan to cover this year. (Please remember, as always, that the list may shift. Some books may fall off the list, and books may be added.) We also hope to have a 2020 Caldecott treat for you. After that, we will dive right in, as our guest posters tell us what they like about the picture books they have seen this year. 

We hope that you, reading this right now, and those you love are safe and healthy. We also hope that you’ll tell us in the comments about your favorite Caldecott-eligible picture books from this year.

It’s been a grueling year, but maybe picture books can help lift us up.

Julie Danielson
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.
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Manish Desai

The Fabled Life of Aesop illustrated by the Caldecott Honor artist Pamela Zagarensk

Posted : Sep 16, 2020 03:27

Manish Desai

Whale of a Mistake by Ioana Hobai

Posted : Sep 16, 2020 03:20

Molly Sloan

I am counting on picture books for their ability to lift us up. Out here in the west we are choking on smoke as wildfires threaten neighborhoods and urban areas like never before. I would add to the Coronavirus pandemic and the pandemic of racial injustice, a pressing climate crisis that is engulfing us while so many ignore it. Picture books and Kidlit in general have always found a way to piercingly reflect the truth of our world back to us. I am counting on it more than ever this year. Though these times can feel overwhelming, I focus on the small sphere where I can make a difference. In my school and in my school library the future is being shaped. May I find the very right books to present to my community--the books to guide, persuade and inspire the next generation of leaders. Thank you to Calling Caldecott, it's various brilliant contributors and all of the readers who add their voices to the conversation. You help me find the very best books. I am grateful for your camaraderie and vision. Let's do this.

Posted : Sep 11, 2020 05:11

Julie Danielson

Thanks, everyone, for joining us!

Posted : Sep 11, 2020 04:21

Susan Schiller

Looking forward to “seeing” the Calling Caldecott books. As a weekly volunteer in the Eric Carle Museum reading library until the pandemic, I have missed perusing all the new books this year.Thanks, Susan

Posted : Sep 11, 2020 03:48

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