(Randolph) Caldecott Medal
What is the Caldecott Medal? The Caldecott Medal, first awarded in 1938, is given to the illustrator of the "most distinguished American picture book for children."
Who is eligible for the Caldecott Medal: Illustrators must be residents or citizens of the United States. The book must be published in the previous publishing year, and not originally published in another country (US territories and commonwealths not excluded). Audience for the book includes children 14 years and younger.
A Perfect Day has been my top favorite for the Caldecott since we received it in February; there's still a lot left in the year for outstanding picture books, but I keep returning to this one. While there are many books about simple (and simply) wonderful days, Lane Smith brings his offbeat humor to this gem, which makes it less saccharine than others.
Elisha Cooper is DUE a Caldecott; if you're not familiar with his work, you are missing out. Cooper does animal/nature themes exceptionally well, and Big Cat Little Cat is even better than my (previous) favorite Cooper picture book, Homer. Be warned: you might need the tissues for the middle of the story, but it's one of the best "circle of life" picture books in recent memory. And although this has nothing to do with criteria, I love the fact that it's a NICE cat story, instead of a sneaky/snarky cat (as much as I love the Bad Kitty series!).
You know who else is due a Caldecott? Antoinette Portis, and Now just might be her ticket. Not much story to this one; just gorgeous illustrations and a sweet message about enjoying everyday moments.
Kadir Nelson is a two-time Caldecott Honor recipient; could Blue Sky, White Stars earn him the Medal? It's a stunning tribute to American heritage, symbols, landmarks, and the diversity of this country's people. From the Statue of Liberty to the wonder of the US space missions, it's a gorgeous reflection of our unique country.
Early Sunday Morning is gorgeous and glorious in its depiction of a young girl preparing for a special children's choir performance at church. This is the inaugural title from Denene Millner Books, which seeks to publish stories featuring everyday lives of African-American children; can't wait to see more from this line!
Mighty Moby's illustrations by Ed Young are jaw-dropping; the story's premise is a stretch (a young boy reenacts Moby Dick in the bathtub...?), but dismissing that, has a great read-aloud quality that isn't always present in Caldecott books.
As I mentioned, read-aloud quality is not a criteria for the Caldecott, but it's always a sweet (and rare) bonus when the Medal/Honor books are awesome read alouds. Over and Under the Pond is not only a fabulous read aloud, but it's a fabulous NONFICTION read aloud. And with its detailed and mesmerizing illustrations, this is surely one to watch for Caldecott 2018.
If you're longing for days spent at the seashore, you must read There Might be Lobsters. It's a darling tale about a dog that faces its own fears, with illustrations by Laurel Molk that will sweep you away to a lovely beach paradise.
2017 is the centennial birthday for poet Gwendolyn Brooks, which makes We Are Shining a beautiful tribute to her work. Jan Spivey Gilchrist's illustrations are illuminating and joyful; one of my favorites from this year.
I still have plenty of 2017 picture books to go through (and more are on the way!); I'll update this post in December with my final choices! In a future post, I'll discuss why these books are on my radar for Newbery 2018 (want to add a few more possibilities before I discuss Newbery):
Genevieve's War (My second favorite--ending is a bit rushed.. But one of Giff's best in some years.)
The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming (I. LOVE. THIS. Currently my top favorite.)
Short (always root for the "lighter" reads!)
If you want to learn more about the Caldecott Medal (and other Youth Media Awards), including past winners, check out ALSC's comprehensive site.
Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library