It's That Time of Year Again

Well, hello there! We here at Calling Caldecott are waving in your direction (which is to say many directions), welcoming fall — here in the South, anyway, we finally have a subtle chill in the air — and welcoming back our readers for a new season of looking at outstanding picture books.

Remember this announcement from the not-so-distant past? Before you know it, we’ll be awaiting the announcement of the 2020 Caldecott Award (on January 27 of next year, to be exact), and our job here is to take a dive into a stack of 2019 picture books and look closely at each of them. In the end, just for kicks and grins, we’ll have our annual mock vote.

It probably goes without saying that we love the art form that is picture books — and we love thinking about how they work in the unique ways that they do. We love to talk about how art and text interact; we love to see the wide range of illustrative styles at work in any given year; and we generally love that this is a corner of cyberspace where it’s All Picture Books All the Time. Here’s where we remind you, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, that we aren’t in the business of predicting the award winners, nor do we have any sway over which books actually win in the end. We wrote this below in a blog post earlier this year:

The joy of this blog for us … is not predicting (we don't do that and aren't in the business of doing that), and it's not even ultimately the mock vote (though it's fun to do). It's the rich discussions we get to have about these distinguished books. How often do you run into people having conversations about picture books? Well, we realize that depends on what you do for a living. But still. It's a wonderful thing — we think so, anyway — to take a deep dive into these books, and that's really what it's all about. It's about the appreciation of the picture book as an art form, no matter which books win big.

So, yeah. Ditto for this year (and every year)! We think picture books are pretty much the best, and we’re excited to look at what’s been published this year. As always, we are thrilled — and grateful — to have a talented group of guest posters who will join us in discussing books. As we’ve said before, we like to keep things fresh and ensure a range of diverse voices.

If you missed it, we did take a look in late May at just some of the best picture books we’ve seen thus far in 2019. Next week, we’ll post the list of books we plan to cover this Calling Caldecott season, but please remember that the list is a living, breathing thing: some books could fall off of the list for any number of reasons, and we may decide to add books to the list (and we welcome your suggestions).

Have you been keeping up with picture books this year? Which ones are your favorites? Which books do you deem the most outstanding? Remember that ALA’s Association for Library Service to Children, which awards the Caldecott, is looking for the most “distinguished” picture book, as defined in this way. We must also remember that the award is given to American picture books. This is especially hard when we see a book illustrated by, say, Julie Flett (see this beauty) or Sydney Smith (his 2019 picture book Small in the City is pretty much perfection), but hey, we don’t make the rules!

So, gather together your stack of favorite 2019 books; refresh yourselves on “How to read a picture book, the Caldecott edition” (one of my favorite Calling Caldecott posts from our beloved Robin Smith, whom we dearly miss); and come join us back here next week!


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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Sam Juliano

Like everyone else chiming in, I too am so thrilled another year of assessing picture book riches is upon us. As I use the Horn Book master list as my own entry point in gathering together titles, I have secured nearly all of the books pictured in that sublime capture. I love just about all the books in varying degrees and I'm sure some of the titles will grow on me even more after I've used some in the classroom. While I am not quite sure what my absolute favorite is I will say this: I absolutely ADORE "Two Brothers, Four Hands" with resplendent art by Hadley Hooper. I've always been saddened at her failure to be named in some capacity for "The Iridescence of Birds" which I thought one of the most beautifully illustrated picture books of the last decade, and having her again do such extraordinarily beautiful work is celebratory. Also miraculous is yet another apparent masterpiece from Oge Mora - "Saturday" and having two more gems from Barbara McClintock and Sergio Ruzzier respectively. I have seen some other titles that I really liked as well in no particular order: Hello I'm Here! (Helen Frost; Rick Lieder) The Magic of Letters (Tony Johnston; Wendell Minor) The Undefeated (Kwame Alexander; Kadir Nelson) You Are Home (Evan Turk) Don't Let Them Disappear (Chelsea Clinton; Gianna Marino)

Posted : Sep 09, 2019 08:24

Deborah Ford-Salyer

Hooray! I love this blog! Thanks for returning to open our eyes and the discussion....

Posted : Sep 09, 2019 05:30

C Maynard

Hooray! I'm so happy that it's this time of year again. Thanks to everyone at Calling Caldecott and HB for this wonderful outlet for discussion every year. Can't wait to see which titles you discuss, especially since that stack is full of so many wonderful books. It's going to be a fun year for Caldecott! Also, wanted to second your opinion about Julie Flett's work, lots of spectacular illustrations from her this year. The Girl and The Wolf and Zoe and the Fawn are just lovely! I can't wait to see Birdsong when it comes in.

Posted : Sep 09, 2019 03:28


Thank goodness - Yay! I've been checking daily for 2 weeks for a posting about the books. I'm trying to remain calm about the list - so excited to see the final selection (even if it is just for now!). My teachers and students are asking what we'll be reading and voting on this year. This photo is just SO tantalizing as I can't quite make out every title. I so appreciate this blog and discussion. And a big thank you to the Horn Book and the three of you for making this happen. It is wonderful.

Posted : Sep 06, 2019 12:54

Erika Long

I just talked about Calling Caldecott this morning. Came to the site, and look what I found. I'm so excited it's that time of year again. So many amazing picture books out there. My heart keeps going back to Oge Mora's upcoming release Saturday. And I have a stack of new releases this week from the public library I'm dying to dig in.

Posted : Sep 05, 2019 07:39

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