It’s time! It’s time to talk about the Caldecott Medal!
Book Award Season is my favorite time of the year*. (And since I live in Canada, I get to celebrate it TWICE -- once in November when the Canadian Children's Book Centre (CCBC) gives out its children’s literature awards, and once in the winter, when the ALA announces its youth media awards. WOO-HOO!)
This year, for fun, my family held our own Mock Caldecott jury session. We made a longlist, bundled up, trekked to the library, dug through our own shelves at home, and read and read and discussed and discussed. We narrowed it down to six. My son even picked a favorite to win the medal, and I vowed to write up a big long post for this here blog.
Then I chickened out.
I can’t do it, friends. I can’t lift just one book above the others.
But I can tell you about our six favorites, all amazing, all wonderful, and all exemplary and distinguished. So, here they are! In no particular order, our favorite, most Caldecott-worthy picture books of 2017** are:
A Different Pond, written by Bao Phi, illustrated by Thi Bui
These illustrations are SPOT ON. The style is a perfect fit for the text, and I loved the way Thi Bui used details like the pillows and the lampshade to place us in this family’s home. I think my younger son expresses my feelings about this book best: when I asked him what he loved about this book, he said, “I loved it because it’s true.” Yes.
After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again, written and illustrated by Dan Santat
There is so much to love about this book. I love the way Dan Santat uses different physical perspectives to tell this story, and much like Thi Bui’s work in A Different Pond, I love the specificity of the details in the illustrations. I love the way you can cover up the words, and still understand Humpty Dumpty’s story. And the twist at the end is superb. It’s an excellent, excellent book.
This House, Once, written and illustrated by Deborah Freedman
If I had to pick the perfect comfort book to have come out in 2017, this book would be it. The softness of the illustrations is just so, so lovely. And as with After the Fall, you can cover up the words and not miss anything. I also really like the way it carries us gently through the seasons, and through the life cycle of the everyday things that surround us. It reminds us that our lives are still tied to nature.
A Perfect Day, written and illustrated by Lane Smith
The first thing my younger son said when we opened this book was, “Ooooh, this is different!” We all loved the playful illustrative style -- scratches through the paint here, sponge prints there, lines of heavy black paint there. The variety of textures was a visual delight, and it really made this book stand out.
The Antlered Ship, written by Dashka Slater, illustrated by The Fan Brothers
What can I say that I haven’t said already? The illustrations in this book are simply exquisite. The moon is absolutely luminous, and the way the Fan brothers used lines and different textures to illustrate the sea, the boat, the feathers and fur... They drew us into a magical world. I love what they do with the characters’ eye lines -- in some scenes, they look right at you. And the endpapers! I am a sucker for maps on endpapers, folks. This book is a treasure.
The Wolf the Duck & the Mouse, written by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen
Another book in which we could read the story without reading any of the words. My kids noticed the way the inside of the wolf’s stomach was bathed in warm browns and oranges, while the snowy woods were cold and bleak. The use of color in this book to convey emotion is wonderfully done. And the wolf’s facial expressions say it all! A joy to read.
And that’s it! Those are our picks. It was hard to narrow it down, though, and while these are our favorites, there are so many other truly excellent picture books out there.
Which ones have you loved? Which books would YOU pick to win the Caldecott Medal and the Caldecott Honor Medal? Join the conversation in the comments!
*Except for summer -- truly, nothing compares to summer. In fact, I have a theory that we hold awards season in the winter specifically so that we can combat the winter gloom.
**Of the ones we read, which was... Not all of them. Even from our longlist of over 30 books, there were many that we just couldn’t get our hands on. Boooo! But these books are still amazing.