Are You Having Another Year Without Page Turns?

At Calling Caldecott, we do our best to schedule book coverage such that you can get your hands on the books you are reading about here at the site. For instance, we aren’t going to kick things off with a book published in November. We kick things off with books published early in the year so that you can more easily find copies of them and follow along. By the time we get to the picture books published in November or December, it’ll be early in 2022, and we hope you can find them without effort on library and bookstore shelves.

But we find ourselves wondering this year, just as we did last year, what your 2021 picture book-reading has been like. Given the pandemic — and now the delays in shipping it has caused — have you run into difficulties finding final copies of picture books?

I am a reviewer and blogger who writes about picture books, and I am accustomed to receiving review copies of new titles — that is, hard copies of the final versions of picture books. I've seen fewer of those this year, which mirrors what last year was like for me. Since we are still grappling with COVID-19, I’ve read more digital copies of picture books than I would like — PDFs and Issuu copies. (Issuu is a digital publishing platform.) And I know this is the case for many reviewers. (I’d like to add, however, that I have been pleased and surprised at the number of hard copies I have received, even if it's been fewer in number compared to non-pandemic years. And I’ve managed to get hard copies of physical books for Calling Caldecott posters, and I am tremendously grateful that publishers have accommodated this.)

Here’s where I say, as I did last year, that I understand the restrictions. Safety should be paramount. If I am reading more picture books in the form of PDFs because warehouses are understaffed — and all of that is because publishers are social distancing and doing what they can to keep their employees safe — this is as it should be.

But post-pandemic, I sincerely (and rather desperately) hope that publishers return to hard copies of picture books for reviewers. Reading a novel digitally doesn’t affect my reading of it, but picture books are meant to be held in one’s hands — because of page-turns (which are everything in the picture book form), because of design choices and what they communicate (trim size, endpapers, front matter, and more), because of illustration choices (texture and composition to name but two elements), and so, so much more.

What about you? If you are not a reviewer (or even if you are), have you had challenges finding picture books this year? Do tell us: what has your picture-book reading been like in 2021?

Here’s hoping we won’t have to ask this question in 2022.


Julie Danielson

Julie Danielson

Julie Danielson writes about picture books at the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. She also reviews for The Horn Book, Kirkus, 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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Allison Khoury

I have mostly been buying books myself. My library's online catalog has been making new titles available much later than in the past, which while understandable, is frustrating. I'm often resorting to online reading as well.

Posted : Nov 06, 2021 11:09

Carol VanHook

I find great joy in reviewing picture books in GoodReads. I am a member of the Mock Caldecott Discussion Group and the 2022 Mock Caldecott List, both at GoodReads. So, where do I get my books? I use the online catalog at our city's public library system to look up the titles that I want to read. The catalog pulls from all its branches and sends my requests to the library of my choice! They see me coming at this branch to get my stack of reserves, and we enjoy the opportunity to discuss these checkouts. This year's crop of Caldecott hopefuls is plentiful, and they are GREAT!I dreamed of being on the real Caldecott Committee, as I am a former teacher-librarian in TN, IN, and IA. I have conducted Mock Caldecott groups in elementary schools. The children have great ideas on the best in children's literature! Now retired, I continue to promote children's literature and encourage folks to read together...of all ages 1 - 101! Join me?

Posted : Nov 02, 2021 08:15



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