Building Our List

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 with the Real Committee. Heaven only knows which books they will end up discussing. We are merely choosing to cover many 2021 Caldecott-eligible books we think are notable (in one way or another). As mentioned in our May post, sometimes we miss the books that end up getting Caldecott recognition — and that includes three of last year's Honors! We can, in no way, read the minds of committee members, nor would we want to. The day the award winners are announced is one of the most exctiing days of the year, after all, and the not-knowing is a beautiful thing. 

Here is our very preliminary list of Caldecott-eligible books that have stood out so far this year. 

  • Bear Island (illustrated by Matthew Cordell)
  • A Boy Named Isamu: A Story of Isamu Noguchi (James Yang)
  • Bright Star (Yuyi Morales)
  • Circle Under Berry (Carter Higgins)
  • Dear Treefrog (Diana Sudyka)
  • Dream Street (Ekua Holmes)
  • Everybody in the Red Brick Building (Oge Mora)
  • Have You Seen a Flower? (Shawn Harris)
  • A House (Kevin Henkes)
  • Hurricane (John Rocco)
  • I Is for Immigrants (Selina Alko)
  • Inside Cat (Brendan Wenzel)
  • Is Was (Deborah Freedman)
  • Keeping the City Going (Brian Floca)
  • King of Ragtime: The Story of Scott Joplin (Stephen Costanza)
  • Little Witch Hazel (Phoebe Wahl)
  • Make Meatballs Sing: The Life & Art of Corita Kent (Kara Kramer)
  • Mel Fell (Corey R. Tabor)
  • Milo Imagines the World (Christian Robinson)
  • The Museum of Everything (Lynne Rae Perkins)
  • My Tree (Il Sung Na)
  • Nicky & Vera: A Quiet Hero of the Holocaust and the Children He Rescued (Peter Sís)
  • Nina: A Story of Nina Simone (Christian Robinson)
  • Off-Limits (Helen Yoon)
  • The Old Boat (Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey)
  • Outside, Inside (LeUyen Pham)
  • The People Remember (Loveis Wise)
  • The People's Painter: How Ben Shahn Fought for Justice with Art (Evan Turk)
  • The Passover Guest (Sean Rubin)
  • Red (Laura Vaccaro Seeger)
  • The Rock from the Sky (Jon Klassen)
  • The 1619 Project: Born on the Water (Nikkolas Smith)
  • Someone Builds the Dream (Loren Long)
  • Strollercoaster (Raúl the Third)
  • Survivor Tree (Aaron Becker)
  • This Very Tree: A Story of 9/11, Resilience, and Regrowth (Sean Rubin)
  • Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre (Floyd Cooper)
  • Watercress (Jason Chin)
  • We Shall Overcome (Bryan Collier)
  • Wishes (Victo Ngai)
  • Wonder Walkers (Micha Archer)
  • Yes & No (Elisha Cooper)

What are we missing?? ... always remembering the Caldecott's requirement that illustrators must either have US citizenship or residency. There are spectacular 2021 picture books you might want to add to our list that are unfortunately not eligible. We've had to cross quite a few off as we built the list, in fact.

That said, please tell us about what we might have missed in the comments.


Martha V. Parravano and Julie Danielson
Martha V. Parravano is book review editor of The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog. Julie Danielson, co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog, writes about picture books at the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.
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Tamara DePasquale null

Our Mock Caldecott just loves Wishes, but we are wondering if Victo Ngai is eligible. Does anyone have the answer for us?

Posted : Nov 24, 2021 08:02

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Yes, she's eligible! Sorry for the very belated response.

Posted : Nov 24, 2021 08:02

Janet Dawson

How about Jump At the Sun ill. by Jacqueline Alcantara and I Sang You Down from the Stars ill. by Michaela Goade?

Posted : Nov 08, 2021 11:37

Sam Juliano

She has already won two Caldecott Medals of course, but Sophie Blackhall's new release "Negative Cat" is lovely enough to at least be in the discussion.

Posted : Sep 17, 2021 05:18

Angie Moore

LOVE that Circle Under Berry is on this list! It is so innovative that I can already imagine it with a shiny sticker on it and it doesn't even release until tomorrow!

Posted : Sep 14, 2021 02:56

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Thank you all for the suggestions! -- Jules

Posted : Sep 10, 2021 12:06

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