Mocking the Caldecott

Of course I would never do such a thing!

I am, however, teaching a Mock Caldecott course here at Dominican GSLIS this fall. How fun is THAT? A Mock Caldecott? For graduate credit (PS. It’s open to auditors and students-at-large, so join us even if you aren’t a current student)? Since we’re doing this in the fall semester, voting the weekend of December 12-13, I’m particularly excited to see how our choices stack up against the “real” winners, to be announced during the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting in Boston at the Youth Media Awards press conference, January 11, 2016.

I’m in the thick of preparing the course now, and true to the “real” process conducted by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), I’m seeking suggestions from our “membership” (that is, readers of this blog, not necessarily ALSC members, although I hope you’ll join if you aren’t already a member). Which 2015 picture books have resonated with you and/or the children you serve?

I’ll use this suggestion list to get my students started; also true to the real process, they will have the opportunity to make suggestions, write nominations, and–of course, the most fun part–deliberate and vote.

Interested in learning more about the Caldecott Medal, its history, eligibility terms and criteria, and more? Visit ALSC’s Caldecott Medal web page.

Please, please, help me with some good suggestions! Otherwise, I’m left to my own devices, and combing what’s been starred so far by the various journals (noticing weird and meaningless things like the fact that “The Octopuppy” by Martin McKenna and “The Octopus Scientists” by Sy Montgomery and Keith Ellenbogen have both received stars this year).

The Caldecott measuring stick

measuring stickThe Caldecott terms and criteria constitute a particular, prescriptive lens through which to look at picture book illustration. The Caldecott Medal is arguably the most prestigious prize a picture book can win, and as such the specific elements and attributes it recognizes have a particular role to play as we examine and evaluate books in the canon. To be sure, the Caldecott terms and criteria are not the only measure we can apply. Indeed, in our day to day work with children, other things–iconic characterization, accessibility, suitability for a group read aloud–can be much more significant. Still, measuring picture books with the Caldecott measuring stick allows us to delve deeply into the quality of the illustration, and gives us meaningful information about the application and legacy of the Medal itself.

And so, for our final project in my intensive picture book course this semester, we are putting the books we’ve looked at through the Caldecott paces. From the 80 titles we’ve looked at the students have nominated 12 for our Mock Caldecott (stipulating that all are eligible, regardless of date or place of publication, or nationality of creator). It is fascinating too see which titles stand out in a Caldecotty sort of way, and which have announced to us their qualities in that respect. Here they are:

  • Michael Rosen’s Sad Book, illustrated by Quentin Blake, written by Michael Rosen
  • Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, by Peter Brown
  • Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me, illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Daniel Beaty
  • Locomotive, by Brian Floca
  • The Great Bear, illustrated by Armin Greder, written by Libby Gleeson
  • Wild, by Emily Hughes
  • Flora and the Flamingo, by Molly Idle
  • This Moose Belongs to Me, by Oliver Jeffers
  • Waiting for the Biblioburro, illustrated by John Parra, written by Monica Brown
  • Here Comes the Garbage Barge, by Red Nose Studio
  • John, Paul, George and Ben, by Lane Smith
  • And Then it’s Spring, illustrated by Erin Stead, written by Julie Fogliano

michael rosen's sad bookmr tiger goes wildknock knocklocomotivegreat bearwildflora and the flamingothis moose belongs to mewaiting for the biblioburrohere comes the garbage bargejohn paul george and benand then it's spring