The 2022 New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children's Books

Eagerly anticipated news! The 2022 New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children's Books have been announced. Here is a list of the ten chosen books:

Farmhouse, written and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Yellow Dog Blues, written by Alice Faye Duncan and illustrated by Chris Raschka

Night Lunch, written by Eric Fan and illustrated by Dena Seiferling

Telling Stories Wrong, written by Gianni Roderi, illustrated by Beatrice Alemagna, and translated from Italian by Antony Shugaar

Bedtime for Bo, written by Kjersti Annesdatter Skomsvold, illustrated by Mari Kanstad Johnsen, and translated from Norwegian by Kari Dickson

The Upside Down Hat, written by Stephen Barr and illustrated by Gracey Zhang

The New Rooster, written and illustrated by Rilla Alexander

The Writer, written by Davide Cali and illustrated by Monica Barengo

Where Butterflies Fill the Sky, written and illustrated by Zahra Marwan

Still This Love Goes On, written by Buffy Sainte-Marie and illustrated by Julie Flett

Huge congratulations to all the winners!

So, which of these books are also eligible for the Caldecott Award? It's not always easy to tell, at least at first glance. Two of the books are illustrated by former Caldecott Medalists, Sophie Blackall and Chris Raschka, and since their residency/citizenship statuses have not changed, their books (Farmhouse and Yellow Dog Blues, respectively) are clearly eligible. Several books have been imported from other countries and published there in the original language, so they are not eligible: Bedtime for Bo (published in Norwegian first), Telling Stories Wrong (published in Italian), and The Writer (ditto).

After these five clear-cut examples, however, it gets a bit trickier. Remember: it's all about the illustrator, not the author, and the illustrator must have EITHER American citizenship OR residency — they don't need both. Let's look at Night Lunch. Although Eric Fan lives in Canada, he's an American citizen. But he's the author, not the illustrator. Illustrator Dena Seiferling is Canadian and lives in Alberta. So Night Lunch is not eligible for the Caldecott. Both Buffy Sainte-Marie and Julie Flett are Canadian, and although Sainte-Marie lives in Hawaii now, as with Eric Fan, that isn't relevant in terms of Caldecott eligibility since she's the author, not the illustrator, of Still This Love Goes On. Illustrator Julie Flett was born in Toronto and lives in Vancouver, so she is not eligible. (Quick break in the Caldecott-eligibility analysis here to give a shout-out to the NYT Best Illustrated committee for recognizing work by two* Indigenous Canadian women creators! Buffy Sainte-Marie and Julie Flett.)

So that's seven of the ten chosen books sorted. What about The Upside Down Hat? Yes, it's eligible because illustrator Gracey Zhang, although born in Canada, now lives in Brooklyn. She is not an American citizen, but she does have U.S. residency. The New Rooster? Author-illustrator Rilla Alexander was born in Australia, and though she's also lived in London and Berlin, she currently calls Los Angeles home. So her book is eligible. And finally: Where Butterflies Fill the Sky. Author-illustrator Zahra Marwan's background is fascinating — born in Kuwait but considered stateless since her father was not a Kuwaiti citizen — but since she lives in New Mexico, she is eligible. 

This can all get very complicated, as you see, and gives you an idea of what the Real Committee faces when determining whether a book is eligible for the Caldecott or not. (I've argued in the past that it's time to ditch the citizenship/residency requirement, but for now, it's the reality.)

If any of the above information is wrong, please correct me! But as far as I can tell, there are five Caldecott-eligible books on the NYT/NYPL Best Illustrated list: Farmhouse; Yellow Dog Blues; The Upside Down Hat; The New Rooster; and Where Butterflies Fill the Sky. Here on Calling Caldecott we have covered or will cover Where Butterflies Fill the Sky and Farmhouse. Would anyone like to argue for discussion of the other three? The door is open!

*[correction to original post, which erroneously identified Dena Seiferling as a Canadian Indigenous woman creator. I apologize for the error.]

Martha V. Parravano
Martha V. Parravano
Martha V. Parravano is book review editor of The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.
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Cynthia Olson

You should cover Yellow Dog Blues. The use of burlap and thread is super cool. I'm even more intrigued since I read about his making of the book in the New York Times article.

Posted : Nov 15, 2022 09:01


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