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The View from Robin’s Rocking Chair

Robin Smith, my wife, co-founded Calling Caldecott, and when she died last year, I knew that each fall would have me wondering which current picture books Robin would love most. The way I decide is to think of Robin’s rocking chair, painted in vivid reds and yellows and greens by Alabama outsider artist Chris Clark […]

Hello Lighthouse

I like to believe that over ten years of reading books aloud to children has provided me with a strong sense of the ones that will capture not just their attention but also (and perhaps more importantly) their hearts and minds. The books they beg me to read again and again. The books that cause […]

Review of Hello Lighthouse

Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall; illus. by the author Primary    Little, Brown    48 pp.    g 4/18    978-0-316-36238-2    $18.99 e-book ed.  978-0-316-36237-5    $9.99 Blackall’s (Finding Winnie, rev. 9/15) picture book opens as a new keeper arrives to take up his solitary duties at a lighthouse “on the highest rock of a tiny island at the edge […]

The Audacious Choice of Sophie Blackall: Profile of 2016 Caldecott Medal Winner Sophie Blackall

In 1914, Lindsay Mattick’s great-grandfather Captain Harry Colebourn, a veterinarian traveling across Canada on his way to serve in the Great War, stopped at a train station and decided to buy a baby black bear from a trapper on the platform. That was a rather audacious thing to do. As it turns out, literature for […]

2016 Caldecott Medal Acceptance by Sophie Blackall

“What about a story?” said Christopher Robin. “What about a story?” I said. “Could you very sweetly tell Winnie-the-Pooh one?” “I suppose I could,” I said. “What sort of stories does he like?” “About himself. Because he’s that sort of Bear.” I am also that sort of bear and I’m going to tell you stories […]

Hooray for Winnie!

I am thrilled that Finding Winnie won the Caldecott Medal. Even though I had looked at it closely when I posted about it here, the announcement prompted me to take another look. We’ll never know exactly why the Caldecott Committee chose it, but here are some aspects of the book that could have raised it […]

A Fine Dessert

Biscuits. Cobblers. Sweets. Dessert. Those are my favorite things to cook. When I saw that Sophie Blackall had illustrated a book about a dessert, I was on it. The book starts and ends with blackberries — literally. Blackall squished them into a paste and used it to paint the muted endpapers. The endpapers’ purple and […]

The Baby Tree

Sophie Blackall’s The Baby Tree was named to the NYT Best Illustrated List this year. Last year Blackall wowed us with her innovative, almost-3D pictures for The Mighty Lalouche — which fact is of course irrelevant to this discussion, since books from previous years are absolutely not allowed on the Caldecott table, literally or figuratively. But one […]