Ineligible Internationals

The Caldecott and Newbery awards were founded partly as a way to support the publishing of American books for children, and the rules are quite clear about who can win and who cannot. I have pasted part of the Caldecott eligibility criteria below:

The award is restricted to artists who are citizens or residents of the United States. Books published in a U.S. territory or U.S. commonwealth are eligible....“American picture book in the United States” means that books first published in previous years in other countries are not eligible.  Books published simultaneously in the U.S. and another country may be eligible.  Books published in a U.S. territory or U.S. commonwealth are eligible...“In English” means that the committee considers only books written and published in English. This requirement DOES NOT limit the use of words or phrases in another language where appropriate in context...“Resident” specifies that illustrator has established and maintains a residence in the United States, U.S. territory, or U.S. commonwealth as distinct from being a casual or occasional visitor.

So, in America by American artists.

That leaves a whole passel of people out, doesn't it? In one of my other lives, I served on the Outstanding International Books for Children Committee, which is a committee of a fine organization called USBBY. That allowed me to read many books that were published in other countries. Some of them are picture books, and many of them fit the other criteria for Caldecott.

I was lucky enough to visit the Butler Center Children's Literature Center this past weekend, where Thom Barthelmess and his students are discussing books that are not eligible for the Caldecott. They call these books Caldenott titles, which is a brilliant moniker. Here are the books the Butler students are talking about.

AND, here are just a smattering of 2013 books from other countries that I think are Books You Should Know:

Bang by Leo Timmers

The Bear's Song by Benjamin Chaud

The Enduring Ark by Joydeb Chitrakar and Gita Wolf

Hello, Mr. Hulot by David Merveille

Line 135 by Germano Zullo, illus. by Albertine

Little Naomi, Little Chick by Avirama Golan, illus. by Raaya Karas

Loula Is Leaving for Africa by Anne Villeneuve

A Mammoth in the Fridge by Michael Escoffier, illlus. by Matthieu Maudet

Mako by Julien Béziat

Mr. Flux by Kyo Maclear, illus by Matte Stephens

My Father's Arms Are a Boat by Stein Erik Lunde, illus by Øyvind Torseter

My Grandpa by Marta Altés

Once Upon a Northern Light by Jean Pendziwol, illus. by Isabelle Arsenault

One Gorilla by Anthony Browne

Picture a Tree by Barbara Reid

The Silver Button by Bob Graham

Sophie Scott Goes South by Alison Lester

The Tiny King by Taro Miura

Of course there are a bunch of other books that were published in the U.S. but are ineligible because of residency issues. I still don't know if Frank Viva is a U.S. resident or not. (That, FYI, is for the ALSC office to investigate.) I bet a lot of you can think of a LOT more books that fulfill the Caldecott criteria but are ineligible for one reason or another. What are some other books you love this year that will not be considered by the committee?

Please leave the titles in the comments below so that we can all run out and get them!


Robin Smith
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.
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Julie Danielson

I will!

Posted : Dec 31, 2013 05:43

Robin Smith

I would LOVE to meet him and all the other fabulous Australian illustrators and writers. I'm in--have my passport in order. I love this book.

Posted : Dec 31, 2013 05:43

Sam Bloom

I was sitting here weeding Xmas books at the Library, and I had to take a break before I lost my head. It just so happened that we had a copy of THE SILVER BUTTON on the shelf, so I took another (closer) look. God, how amazing is Bob Graham? He's so consistently wonderful, every single book, that you can easily overlook a title of his (like I did in the comments above). I just read "Let's Get a Pup," Said Kate with my daughter last night, and I just marvel at the character development that he pulls off in such a short period of time with such few words and relatively simple illustrations. Unbelievable. But like Jules experienced, SILVER BUTTON didn't get a rave review from my daughter (who is 4 1/2), which was really the first time she hasn't loved one of his books, so I think I let that fact color my perception. Anyway, all that is to say that I think SILVER BUTTON is one of the best picture books of the year. I want to make a pilgrimage to Australia some day and visit the neighborhood he puts in all his books. (I'm guessing it's Melbourne or Adelaide? Doesn't look like Sydney.) Who's coming with me?

Posted : Dec 31, 2013 05:29

Robin Smith

Really Sam, why? I thought it was brilliant the way he showed one moment, close in and far away and then back and forth. I read it with my students and they pored over it for days. Oscar's 1/2 Birthday though--that's a triumph. I love everything about that book too.

Posted : Dec 28, 2013 03:03

Sam Bloom

Hey now, I said a *bit* of a step down! I still liked it a lot - basically a 9/10 instead of perfect 10s for many of his books. Sorry about that, vague/poor word choice...

Posted : Dec 28, 2013 03:03


So neat to hear that your students like that book, Robin. I've only read it to my own two children, but my youngest actively disliked it. Good to hear your students were taken with it. I LOVE that book.

Posted : Dec 28, 2013 03:03

Sam Bloom

I'm glad to see Bob Graham on here, despite the fact that The Silver Button is a bit of step down in quality for him, in my opinion. He is a big favorite in our house - Oscar's 1/2 Birthday and How to Heal a Broken Wing are two of my favorite picture books in the entire world.

Posted : Dec 28, 2013 02:15


Jennifer Yerkes' A Funny Little Bird makes great use of white space. When I saw the title of this post I was all prepared to comment on Bang! and then there it is at the top of your list! All those bold, kid-friendly colors . . .I've used it with kids as a read aloud (love the twist of the chameloen hitting the brakes), but the real fun is in finding the consquences of each mash-up in the illustrations. One of my favorites this year.

Posted : Dec 17, 2013 08:55

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