Cathryn M. Mercier

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A Walk in the Woods

Caldecott decision-makers face the unwritten guideline to evaluate the accomplishments of each picture book throughout the year with an open mind. Each committee member needs to figure out how to engage with each book on its terms rather than on the reader’s preference for a style or visual aesthetic. They...


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...

Happy Anniversary: Black and White and Read All Over Again

Black and White by David Macaulay was published by Houghton Mifflin in 1990. We look back on this rule-breaking Caldecott Medalist as it celebrates its thirtieth anniversary.   By 1990, children’s literature professionals had come to expect the unexpected from David Macaulay. An innovative artist and illustration teacher, Macaulay knew...

"Judged purely on artistic merit": The 2016 New York Times Best Illustrated Books

Editor’s note: Cathryn M. Mercier, director of the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College and a judge on the 2012 New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books panel, generously took us up on a request to look at the picture books on this year’s list, in one bang-up, round-up...

Becoming a Book Detective

Although I grew up in a household of women who read, my reading education is a bit unusual in the academic world. In the in-law apartment my dad built for her, my grandmother lined the custom-made bookshelves with thick volumes of Reader’s Digest Condensed Books. In these pages, I first...

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