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Mel Fell

2
Author-illustrator Corey R. Tabor’s exuberant Mel Fell starts with a dramatic announcement from a baby kingfisher named Mel: today, with her mama away, is the day she will learn how to fly. Hiding in a tree hole, her siblings, Pim and Pip, watch with great concern as Mel marches to the end...

Bear Island

2
When I was on the 2018 Caldecott committee, we chose Matthew Cordell’s Wolf in the Snow. In preparing for our deliberations, we read and re-read the book. Sounds funny to say that, when there are hardly any words in it, and the ones that are there are sound effects: “bark! bark! bark!” and...

Outside, Inside

1
There is so much to notice and appreciate about LeUyen Pham’s Outside, Inside that it’s hard to know where to start. This is a book about the COVID-19 pandemic, a book that explains the major societal changes the onset of the pandemic wrought in a way that the many preschoolers who...

A Conversation with Michaela Goade

Photo credit: Sydney Akagi. Michaela Goade is the illustrator of We Are Water Protectors (written by Carole Lindstrom, and published by Roaring Brook), the winner of the 2021 Randolph Caldecott Medal. Julie Danielson interviewed Michaela via email for Calling Caldecott.  Calling Caldecott: What was your first conversation with Carole Lindstrom like...

Building Our List

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Today at Calling Caldecott, we start talkin' books. Which ones will we write about this year?  Here's where we remind you that this list is ever-evolving. Books may be added to it, and books might fall off of it.  Please also remember that we have zero, zilch, nada to do...

Calling Caldecott 2022

4
Hello! We interrupt your Target shopping for all the spectacular Christian Robinson products to announce that it's time to kick off our Calling Caldecott season. We are happy you are here to join us in discussing All Things 2021 Picture Books! (Or, well, the Caldecott-eligible ones anyway.) We last saw you...

2021 Picture Books on the Radar

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Hello, Calling Caldecott readers! As we wave to you from our little corner of cyberspace, we are wiping off a bit of dust on the blog, since it's been a little over three months since we last saw you. But! We are here now to share glimpses of some of the notable...

The 2021 Robin Smith Picture Book Prize

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It’s hard to believe this is the fourth annual selection for the Robin Smith Picture Book Prize, four years since my wife, Robin Smith, died of cancer at age 57. Robin co-founded Calling Caldecott, reviewed for the Horn Book Magazine and Kirkus Reviews, served on the Caldecott committee and several others,...

Momentous history made!

Greeting, fellow members of the children's book community, on this day after a most momentous one in our history. Yesterday, Michaela Goade, who is of Tlingit descent and is tribally enrolled wih the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, won the Caldecott Medal for We Are...

2021 Caldecott Announcement

3
The wait is over! The 2021 Caldecott Awards were announced this morning. The committee chose one winner and four honor books.  The winner is:  We Are Water Protectors, illustrated by Michaela Goade and written by Carole Lindstrom:                          The...

It's Almost Time!

2
We here at Calling Caldecott want to take a moment to thank everyone who voted in this week’s 2021 Calling Caldecott Mock Vote. Here are the results if you missed them yesterday. And if mock-voting is not your thing but you have read along with us for the past five months...

Results of the 2021 Calling Caldecott Mock Vote

2
The votes are in! The results of our 2021 Calling Caldecott Mock Vote yielded a mock winner and two honor books. Our readers chose We Are Water Protectors, illustrated by Michaela Goade, as the winner.                                    ...

It's Time to Vote! — Calling Caldecott 2021 ballot is now open

2
Can you all believe that we are one week away from the Caldecott Awards announcement? In case you missed it, here is where you can catch the exciting news next Monday morning. We have covered a big stack of 2020 picture books here at Calling Caldecott since September. We are...

The 2021 "Books We Wish We Had Time For" list

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One of my favorite things about the 2019 Caldecott Awards was that a book we hadn’t covered here at Calling Caldecott (Brian Lies’s The Rough Patch) up and won an Honor. And I love this, because it proves the point that we are not in the business of predicting winners,...

Your Place in the Universe

When my siblings and I were young, my mother ordered Time Life’s A Child’s First Encyclopedia of Learning, a series of books that explored a variety of topics about the natural world. I imagine that she ordered the set to address our seemingly insatiable curiosity about the world in which...

In a Jar

1
Aren’t all of us collectors? If we are conscious of the lives we lead, we know we collect things. We treasure our partners, children, friendships, books, the myriad fine moments that make a life. But look even closer — “see a world in a grain of sand,” as William Blake would...

Prairie Days

Every August, I replace my Caldecott poster with the updated version. Strategically placed near my circulation desk and next to the Caldecott award shelf, it hangs low to the ground to ensure comfortable viewing for even the youngest of students. At the top of the poster is the cover of...

Julián at the Wedding

We first met Julián in 2018, when Jessica Love’s debut picture book, Julián the Mermaid, came into the world — with Love's use of mixed media on brown paper. The protagonist’s emotional trajectory was tangible, evoking for so many what it feels like to crave acceptance without condition. We get...

In the Half Room

Anyone who’s ever spoken to me about picture books knows how much I love Carson Ellis’s illustrations, and it’s obvious I’m not the only one: in 2017, Du Iz Tak? won a Caldecott Honor. Upon my first reading of In the Half Room, her latest solo picture book, I wished...

If You Come to Earth

How do you fit the whole world between the covers of a picture book? How do you describe our whole world to an alien? Well, narrator Quinn gives it a good shot in If You Come to Earth. (Sophie Blackall avoids gendering Quinn for this book.) Quinn writes, “Dear Visitor...

The Night Before Christmas

3
"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!" Most of us know this line, the ending of Clement C. Moore's classic poem "The Night Before Christmas," first published in 1823. But I promise you, it will hit differently after you read Loren Long's visual interpretation. I get it — a...

Round Two: Mock Nominations

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It's time for the second round of our mock Caldecott nominations. In mid-November we had round one, asking readers to name their top four choices (so far). Now we are asking for THREE more titles. Why these numbers? Each member of the Real Committee must nominate a total of seven books; the...

I Am Every Good Thing

One of the criteria for the Caldecott Medal is excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept. One look at Derrick Barnes's and Gordon C. James's I Am Every Good Thing and it is clear that the theme of the book is love for Black boys. The cover of the...

In the City

I’ll be frank: I’ve got some emotional baggage with Chris Raschka. His Caldecott Award-winning picture book A Ball for Daisy is largely the reason I fell in love with the study of picture books. I was so devoted to the emotional depth of that little pup, as she leapt across...

All Because You Matter

2
There are many ways one could enter this (singular, spectacular, heartstopping) book, but I can’t imagine starting anywhere other than with the face on the cover. Has a book jacket ever boasted an image so strong, so tender, or so radiant? A portrait of a young boy’s face is encompassed...

The Blue House

Caldecott terms and criteria stipulate that the Medal goes to a picture book published “during the preceding year.” Although the 2020 publication of Phoebe Wahl’s The Blue House satisfies this term, it feels like it’s been around for a long, long time — while also being utterly groundbreaking. Picture books...

Night Walk to the Sea

You need to have this book in your hands. Author Deborah Wiles imagines this story based on some of ecologist Rachel Carson’s writings and her relationship with her nephew Roger, whom she raised after his mother’s death. Roger is frightened when the lights go out on a stormy night, but Rachel...

The Bear and the Moon

Sometimes a book comes along that makes me proud to be a part of the world of children’s literature, and The Bear and the Moon, written by Matthew Burgess and illustrated by Cátia Chien, is one of those books. When I first read it, it felt like an old friend,...

Lift

I tried to resist Lift, written by Minh Lê and illustrated by Dan Santat — a story of sibling rivalry in which young protagonist Iris feels usurped by her younger brother until she presses a magical elevator button that lets her escape into fantastic adventures. I saw it when it was...

Tell us all about your Mock Caldecotts!

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You may not be surprised to see that, once again, we are asking you, our readers, for your Mock Caldecott plans! We know that many of you — teachers, school librarians, public librarians, and even booksellers — do mock Caldecotts with students, library patrons, etc. And you know we love to hear about them.  Want to...

A Thousand Glass Flowers

Do you ever sit with an object and think about where it’s been and where it’s going? I like to do this with my vintage beads. I run the strands through my fingers, hold them up to the light, and think about the artists who made the tiny, precious spheres,...

NYT/NYPL List, We Miss You!

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JULES: Some of you may have already heard that, sadly, the New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Book Awards will not take place this year, because of the pandemic. (Here are last year’s awards if you want to take a stroll down memory lane.) I look forward...

Bedtime for Sweet Creatures

1
Kudos to author Nikki Grimes and artist Elizabeth Zunon, who together have created a most unusual bedtime book in Bedtime for Sweet Creatures. One of the most unusual things about the text is that it is narrated by the protagonist's mother, who throughout the book addresses her child as she...

A Quick Pause for Nominations

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It's that time of year again at Calling Caldecott where we pause briefly in our coverage of 2020 picture books to ask for readers' input. What books that are eligible for the Caldecott are your current top favorites? It's not been a typical year, to put it mildly. And award...

What the Hell Is Didactic Intent Anyway?

3
ELISA GALL: Part of the Caldecott terms and criteria reads: "The committee should keep in mind that the award is for distinguished illustrations in a picture book and for excellence of pictorial presentation for children. The award is not for didactic intent or for popularity." In recent years, I've seen...

2021 CaldeNotts

3
If we here at Calling Caldecott ran the world, one of the first things we’d do is make it so that the Caldecott award could become an international award. The Caldecott manual states: “The award is restricted to artists who are citizens or residents of the United States.” But, as...

How to Find a Bird

I'm not a big bird fan, bordering on phobia (the thought of talons and my big, curly hair—horror). Living in the city, all the pigeons and the geese and the poop.  How to Find a Bird by Jennifer Ward, illus. by Diana Sudyka, came out in August and was reviewed,...

Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks

In her afterword for Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks, artist Cozbi A. Cabrera talks about how she loved researching the life of legendary poet Gwendolyn Brooks. Cabrera thanks the staff at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Rare Book and Manuscript Library for allowing her to hold...

How to Talk about Picture Books

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In case we don’t say it enough, we here at Calling Caldecott are immensely grateful to all of the guest posters who visit and write about picture books. We enjoy reading their posts and appreciate their thoughtful contributions. We love it when someone points out something in a picture book...

In the Woods

2
We’ve already had a half dozen nature-themed books highlighted at Calling Caldecott, and there are at least that many still to come! Will In the Woods, a poetry collection exploring woodland life during the course of a year, be a stand-out in this impressive field? Veteran illustrator Rob Dunlavey has built his career...

A New Green Day

Before I had children, I had it all planned out. Thanks to my chosen occupation (children’s librarian), I already had a house filled with picture books of all kinds. I knew the literature. I knew which books would appeal to one age range or another. I was book-smart about children’s...

The Next President

5
We all know you can throw a rock and hit a children’s book about presidents. They are everywhere. And they are necessary so that we can learn about (and learn from) our past. But not all nonfiction children’s books about presidents are created equal. When Kate Messner’s and Adam Rex’s...

CaldeComics 2021, Part Two

Today on Calling Caldecott, Niki Marion writes about two more 2020 graphic novels. Read her earlier CaldeComics post here.   When we talk about the Caldecott Medal, we often assume that because the award recognizes “the most distinguished picture book for children,” the winner must be a picture book in the traditional...

Outside In

1
Cindy Derby’s illustrations in Outside In, written by Deborah Underwood, were made with watercolor and powdered graphite on cold press paper—and, per the copyright page, “some of the lines were created with dried flower stems and thread soaked in ink.” It’s a perfect example of the book’s theme: that nature...

CaldeComics 2021, Part One

1
Today on Calling Caldecott, Niki Marion writes about three 2020 graphic novels. She will contribute a second graphic novel round-up post later this week. —J.D. Every year the ALA Youth Media Awards roll around, and every year I’m a touch disappointed not to see more graphic novels among the various award...

You Matter

1
I have a confession to make. I am generally not a fan of the all-too-earnest, self-esteem-building “concept” picture book. I could explain why, but then we’d have to consult my therapist and we’d be taking precious time away from discussing this book. Which I love. Truly. Christian Robinson’s You Matter...

The Camping Trip

3
“People in cities don’t understand / falling in love with the land.” So goes a line from one of my favorite Girl Scout songs, “Moon on the Meadow.” Jennifer K. Mann’s picture book The Camping Trip takes protagonist and narrator Ernestine from being one of those “people in cities” to getting her first taste...

Whoo-Ku Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story

1
I often say that a nonfiction picture book for children is the best introduction to a new subject for readers of any age, especially when the illustrations are as richly informative as the text, and that is true for me about great horned owls and Maria Gianferrari’s Whoo-Ku Haiku: A...

My Best Friend

3
I admit it -- I am a proponent of picture books aimed at the very young, and I am aware that these books don’t often garner Caldecott recognition. But they deserve our attention.  So here's one: My Best Friend, written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki. It's the story of...

We Are Water Protectors

I simply cannot get enough of We Are Water Protectors. It stands out among the books published this year for its importance in our shared culture and for its elegant beauty. Before I ever saw the book, I saw an illustration from one of its pages — the image of...

Oil

1
I love nonfiction picture books. I love books that educate our children and inspire them to social action and justice. And I love seeing the responses of children when I read these kinds of books aloud to them and they are moved to make changes in themselves, their community, and...

A Year Without Page Turns

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Those of you who read Calling Caldecott may have seen some think pieces this year about what it has been like to read and review books during 2020. Because of the pandemic, publishers (generally speaking) have been distributing digital copies of books to review publications and their reviewers. Vicky Smith of...

Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera

2
According to National Geographic, the average size of a worker honeybee is between 0.4 to 0.6 inches. And yet this little critter serves a mighty role in the food chain. Some humans may view bees as a pest, but we depend on honeybee pollination for many of the foods we...

Hike

1
Now that I’m living closer to my family, I have the advantage of a built-in picturebook audience in my nieces and nephew. Luckily enough, I was hanging out with my youngest niece when I received Hike by Pete Oswald. Since she loves books, she was eager for me to read it...

A Girl Like Me

1
I’ve always loved how Nina Crews’s photocollages juxtapose photographic realism with compositional flights of fancy in ways that indulge children’s frequent interest in seeing other real kids in books, as well as their propensity for imaginative play. Crews’s art for Angela Johnson’s poetic text in A Girl Like Me capitalizes on...

Packs: Strength in Numbers

3
Hannah Salyer may not be a name you know, but her book, Packs: Strength in Numbers, is a rarity. It’s a debut picture book by a young and talented illustrator receiving award buzz. She has already been featured in interviews at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast and Kirkus. With fluid lines created...

Black Is a Rainbow Color

2
Caldecott Honoree and Coretta Scott King Book Award winner Ekua Holmes wows readers with her meticulous illustrations in Black Is a Rainbow Color, written by Angela Joy. The story starts with a young African American girl coloring a rainbow and notes that her color, black, is not in the rainbow.  From the...

Overground Railroad

2
On June 24, 1944, my grandparents boarded a northbound train in Mount Olive, North Carolina, headed for New Haven, Connecticut, where my grandfather’s sister lived. For my grandparents, leaving Mount Olive meant opportunities for jobs other than working on the farm or cleaning someone’s house. It meant leaving behind the...

The Old Truck

2
I’m worried. My task here is to review The Old Truck by brothers Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey. But the book contains such a breathtaking amount of Caldecott-worthy elements, I’m concerned that I might not give each one its due before my time and space run out. Here goes . ....

A Conversation with Kadir Nelson

Kadir Nelson is the author-illustrator of The Undefeated, winner of the 2020 Randolph Caldecott Medal. Julie Danielson interviewed him by email for Calling Caldecott.   Calling Caldecott: What have been some of the highlights of your Caldecott year?  Kadir Nelson: I’ve been blessed with a wonderful year thus far. The news of...

Let's Do This!

5
Hi again! Today, we are sharing the list of books we plan to cover at Calling Caldecott in the months leading up to the big awards announcement. As we noted the other day, please remember that this list is not definitive. Books may fall off the list, and we may...

Calling Caldecott 2021

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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...

The 2020 Robin Smith Picture Book Prize

4
My wife, Robin Smith, knew children's literature well — she co-founded this blog, served on many book award committees, and reviewed for The Horn Book Magazine and Kirkus Reviews — and she taught second graders for 24 years. Daily, she read picture books to them.  Robin died in 2017 at the age...

2020 Caldecott Announcement

3
The wait is over! The 2020 Caldecott Medal Selection Committee has made its choices: one winner and three honor books. The winner is: The Undefeated, illustrated by Kadir Nelson and written by Kwame Alexander:  The honor books are: Bear Came Along, illustred by LeUyen Pham and written by Richard T. Morris:  Double Bass...

The Real Awards Are Nigh!

1
We want to take a moment here at Calling Caldecott, as we wrap up our book coverage, to extend our thanks. Mind you, we aren’t entirely done here at the blog. We promise we have more posts in store for you. I mean, OF COURSE we do! The Caldecott announcement is...

Results of the 2020 Calling Caldecott Mock Vote

3
The votes are in! And the results yielded a mock winner and four honor books. Our readers chose Oge Mora's Saturday as the winner. Bear Came Along, illustrated by LeUyen Pham; My Papi Has a Motorcycle, illustrated by Zeke Peña; Truman, illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins; and The Undefeated, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, received the next highest number of...

It's Time to Vote! — Calling Caldecott 2020 ballot is now open

3
It's that time again! Time to weigh in officially on our UNofficial mock Caldecott vote. This year we once again mimic the Real Committee's actual process in some ways, and not in others. This year, we asked our readers to submit mock nominations in November and December — seven in all,...

¡Vamos!

¡Vamos!: Let's Go to the Market by Raúl the Third with color by Elaine Bay was on the Horn Book’s 2019 Fanfare list and received a starred review in the Magazine. Sometimes these decisions involve debate and discussion. Other times — like this one — consensus is clear: Yes! Beginning with the...

A Big Bed for Little Snow

1
On the paper jacket for Grace Lin's A Big Bed for Little Snow, a companion to her 2019 Caldecott Honor book A Big Mooncake for Little Star, we see a grinning boy atop a blue-gray, cloudlike bed. The boy's grin exudes mischief, and feathers float in the air. Has he been jumping on the...

2020 CaldeNotts

As an international academic and educator who has lived in the United States for a little over four years, I have often wondered about the following statements under the “Terms, Definitions, and Criteria” section of the Caldecott awards: “The award is restricted to artists who are citizens or residents of...

Home in the Woods

2
Home in the Woods is a story of loss and love, hope, hard work, and healing. It is a book of green and gentleness, softness and loyalty, perseverance and hardship, love and courage. In fact, I find myself so smitten by the art and artistry that I thought for a long...

What We Wish We Had Time For

The ALA Youth Media Awards are nigh, but we here at Calling Caldecott still have some book coverage planned for this week and next. We have a few more guest posters to come who will share their thoughts on eligible 2019 titles. Even so, we know that we won’t have...

Daniel's Good Day

2
How many times a week do you hear or speak the phrase “Have a good day!”? It’s what Daniel hears from his friendly neighbors. One sunny day, he sets out on a walk to Grandma’s house and decides to ask his good day–wishing neighbors, “What makes a good day for you?” Their answers...

"Nominations," Part Two

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Yes, it's time for the second round of Caldecott "nominations"! As you may recall, in November we put out a call for a first round, asking readers to name their top four choices (so far). Now we are back, asking for THREE more titles. Each member of the Real Committee must nominate...

The Shortest Day

1
Soon after I was assigned The Shortest Day for Calling Caldecott, I heard author Susan Cooper and illustrator Carson Ellis speak about their collaboration at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. Scrawled in my notes from that day is the sentence, “This isn’t a poem about merry feudal...

A Place to Land

2
A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech That Inspired a Nation is an exemplary nonfiction picture book — as in, it represents the best of its kind. The story it tells — of the crafting of MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech at the 1963 March on Washington — is absolutely riveting; and the visual...

Saturday

1
In a December 2018 interview at the site Art of the Picture Book, Oge Mora mentions that a quote from her favorite painter Jacob Lawrence — "when the subject is complex, simplicity is the only way to treat it" — inspires her. She praises Lawrence's playful style, as well as the way he created...

Double Bass Blues

1
As I read Double Bass Blues, I can see and feel the double meaning of the title. Nic is a young Black boy who plays the double bass at his suburban school. Unlike his friends, to get home he must travel across town — and with a double bass on his back....

We want to know your Mock Caldecott plans (and results!)

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One of the things I miss most about school librarianship is doing mock Caldecott units with students. There is a lot they can learn about picture books from a close examination of them — they learn about art and design and writing and how both art and design can extend a text...

Fry Bread

1
Fry Bread disappeared from my elementary-school library desk before I had the chance to process it with plastic and barcode stickers. When I then crossed paths with the eager student who had borrowed it, she looked up at me with a smile matching that of the baby on the book’s...

Nine Months

Jason Chin, author and illustrator of such excellent science books as Grand Canyon (2017), Island (2012), Coral Reefs (2011), and Redwoods (2009) has a talent for combining story and nonfiction content. The narratives, illustrations, and nonfiction elements always work together, so much so that his books make great read-alouds and the information, woven into the stories,...

A Stone Sat Still

Recently at his blog 100 Scope Notes, Travis Jonker set about calculating the likelihood that a Caldecott winner may repeat his or her win in the future. He’d crunched similar numbers for the Newbery already, but even so, the results surprised him. He wrote: “I didn’t expect the number of repeat winners...

A Brief Pause for "Nominations"

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Hello, everyone! As you may be aware, the Real Committee has been busy all year with its regimented system of (informal) suggestions and (formal) nominations. Jules and I thought we would pause in our coverage of 2019 Caldecott-eligible titles to solicit your input. What books are your current top favorites? Just to briefly...

River

2
Elisha Cooper’s River is the story of a woman who travels the length of the Hudson River by canoe. She starts one morning at a mountain lake (the book’s backmatter tells us it’s New York’s Henderson Lake), waves goodbye to her family, and heads downstream: “Three hundred miles stretch in front of her....

Why the Hell Hasn’t a Book Won the Newbery AND the Caldecott?

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ELISA GALL: The Newbery and Caldecott committees used to be one and the same. Before they were divided into two separate committees (this happened in the late 1970s), a book was either considered for one of the awards or the other: never both. Now a book can win both the Newbery...

You Are Home

I was always a library-dwelling indoor kid by nature, but some of my fondest childhood memories are from summer day trips in the Smoky Mountains — just a quick, early-morning drive to stake out a swimming hole before the tourists got there. It all comes back in sense memories of...

Vroom!

2
Barbara McClintock's Vroom! is one of my favorite picture books of 2019 for very young children — and I'm a perennial cheerleader for great books for the youngest, though they rarely if ever garner Caldecott recognition. Still! They are worth speaking up for.  In recognition of its audience, Vroom! wastes no...

When Aidan Became a Brother

Could it be? A book with a trans character whose queer identity is not the sole storyline? Well, almost. But still, here it is — and a possible contender for the Caldecott Medal to boot. When Aidan Became a Brother is the story of a soon-to-be older sibling and his anxieties...

My Papi Has a Motorcycle

1
Isabel Quintero and I have at least one thing in common. My Papi Has a Motorcycle, too, and although we used to ride on Sunday mornings instead of in the evenings, Quintero and I both know the bond-forming experience of a father sharing the road with his daughter. Quintero once again collaborates with...

The Undefeated

“This is for the unforgettable / The swift and sweet ones / who hurdled history / and opened a world / of possible.” From the opening lines of Kwame Alexander’s poem, readers are invited on a journey. It is a journey through a people’s story — through the sorrows, triumphs, and resilience...

The 2019 New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Books list

It's November, which means the annual announcement of the New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children's Books list. At the end of October/beginning of November every year, I wake up each morning, wondering if today will be the day they make the announcement. (I know, I know. But if...

Bear Came Along

1
In her illustrator's note for the rollicking Bear Came Along, LeUyen Pham writes, "This book is truly special to me. It was one of those rare stories that, the moment I read it, I knew exactly how it would look." Her vibrant illustrations, done in watercolor, ink, and gouache, reflect...

The Fisherman and the Whale

It seems many book creators of late are fascinated — and justifiably concerned — by increasingly frequent news about injured, captive, and entangled whales. This has resulted in a wealth of gorgeously illustrated books featuring observant, empathetic child characters who, in various ways, perform acts of environmental stewardship. Think Troy Howell and Richard...

Two Brothers, Four Hands

1
Biographies by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan are among my favorite nonfiction books. Action Jackson; Ballet for Martha; Chuck Close, Up Close; and Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Through the Gates and Beyond, among others, are models of fine writing and creative presentations. And I loved Hadley Hooper’s illustrations for Patricia MacLachlan’s...

The Bell Rang

1
Any time I have heard an African American person speak of learning about slavery as a child, the memory entails some degree of shame. In his memoir Bad Boy, Walter Dean Myers wrote about feeling, as a child looking at his textbook’s shallow treatment of slavery, that somehow those people...

The Caldecott Torch

2
Calling Caldecott readers may remember this September post in which Caldecott medalist Sophie Blackall mentioned how she and fellow medalist Matthew Cordell (the two most recent winners) recently brainstormed a new Caldecott tradition. Sophie's fab idea, which she suggested as she chatted with Matt at this year's ALA Annual conference, was...

The Little Guys

3
In Leave Me Alone!, a 2017 Caldecott Honor book, Vera Brosgol gave us a grouchy grandma who just wants to be left TF alone. In The Little Guys, we meet a pack of admittedly adorable underdogs, working ably together to better themselves and all others within the group — but acting like a bunch...

CaldeComics 2020

Another year, another opportunity for graphic novels to make their way into Caldecott discussions. If, as Travis Jonker writes, wordless books are “Caldecott catnip,” then what does that make graphic novels? “Graphic elements” in picture books certainly seem to be an enticing treat (see: Mr. Wuffles!, A Different Pond, Creepy...

Another

My sister, a high school English teacher, is one of the most well-read and story-loving persons on the planet. She reads voraciously, indiscriminately, and deeply. When she presses a book into my hands, I know it will demand focused and thoughtful reading. This was the case with Joseph Campbell’s The...

Going Down Home with Daddy

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Going Down Home with Daddy's back cover boldly announces, “Nothing is more important than family.” It's a palpable sentiment throughout the story. A Black family of four wakes before dawn to pack the car for a trip “down home” to Daddy’s family reunion, an event they surely attend regularly. During the drive,...
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