Waiting for the Caldecott

Around this time each year, I start looking forward to the announcement of children’s book awards for 2022. On January 24th, announcements will be made for the Caldecott, the Newbery, and the Printz medals, as well as many other book awards. Many blogs focus on possible contenders for the biggest awards, but the voting is actually done just one day prior to the announcement and is a carefully guarded secret.

The Caldecott Medal will be awarded to the best illustrated book for children from 2021, and actually goes to the illustrator, not the author. As I read through blogs, there does not seem to be any consensus developing yet, but here are some of the books that are being mentioned as contenders.

Dear Treefrog by Joyce Sidman  Wonder Walkers by Micha Archer

 Hurricane by John Rocco  Watercress by Andrea Wang

  The Rock from the Sky by Jon Klassen  Someone Builds the Dream by Lisa Wheeler

  Nicky & Vera by Peter SisMilo Imagines the World by Matt de la Pena

  I'll Meet You in Your Dreams by Jessica Young  Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones

  Unspeakable by Carole Boston Weatherford  Amos McGee Misses the Bus by Philip Stead

Out of these 12 illustrators, six already have at least one Caldecott Medal or Caldecott Honor to their credit. All are exceptionally talented and have created illustrations that make these books a joy to read. Keep in mind, though, that there is not an official list of nominations. These have just been mentioned by readers and critics as potential winners. Sometimes the Caldecott committee will go off in an unexpected direction. As for me, I’m crossing my fingers for Loren Long (he’s from Cincinnati) or Floyd Cooper (he died in 2021 and has never won). All will be revealed on January 24th. Meanwhile, treat yourself to one of these books.

Update from 1/25/22: The 2022 Caldecott Medal winner is Watercress by Andrea Wang and illustrated by Jason Chin! The book also received a Newbery Honor and was named as the best picture book promoting Asian/Pacific American heritage and culture. Gathering watercress by the side of the road sparks a conversation among a family about their family history, heritage, and memories. Award-winning author Andrea Wang draws upon her childhood, growing up in a small, mostly white, rural town in Ohio as a child of Chinese immigrants in this autobiographical account illustrated by celebrated author and artist Jason Chin, who incorporates painting styles and techniques from both western and Chinese cultures.

Thanks for Sharing Your Talent!

Collage of Children's Books

Already in 2021, the world of children’s book publishing has lost some iconic authors and illustrators. Through the stories they wrote and the illustrations they created, our lives have been enriched beyond measure. Here’s a short statement about each of these imaginative people and some book covers to illustrate their work.

Eric Carle: Both an author and an illustrator, his book The Very Hungry Caterpillar has sold more than 50 million copies in 66 languages. His illustrations were primarily collage, featuring hand-painted papers. He also founded the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art to ensure that picture-book illustrations, as an art form, would be celebrated around the world.

Polar Bear, Polar Bear by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Beverly Cleary: Millions of kids have romped through the pages of Cleary’s books with Henry, Beezus, and Ramona. Cleary drew the inspiration for her chapters books from the kids in her neighborhood and the kids she served during her years as a librarian.

Ramona the Brave by Beverly Cleary Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary

Floyd Cooper: Cooper illustrated for some of the best-known children’s authors including Nikki Grimes, Walter Myers, and Carole Boston Weatherford, mostly in books that portrayed the African-American experience. His distinctive painting style created luminous illustrations in earthy tones as he helped to bridge the racial gap in children’s literature.

The Blacker the Berry by Joyce Carol Thomas and Floyd Cooper Back of the Bus by Aaron Reynolds and Floyd Cooper

  • Lois Ehlert: Author and illustrator, Ehlert was inspired by the beauty of the natural world. Her artwork featured brightly colored snips of paper as well as “found” objects such as buttons or feathers. She related how her parents encouraged her to be creative in her autobiographical picture book The Scraps Book. Her  book Rrralph is not her most beautiful, but it always makes me laugh! Some of Ehlert’s artwork reminds me of the work of Cincinnati graphic artist Charley Harper.

Pie in the Sky by Lois Ehlert Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert

Patricia Giff: Giff was a long-time favorite with children making the leap to chapter books. She also won critical acclaim with her historical fiction for older children.

Zebra at the Zoo by Patricia Giff Water Street by Patricia Giff Lily's Crossing by Patricia Giff

Norton Juster: Please don’t ask “Who is Norton Juster?” His book The Phantom Tollbooth has been a favorite of elementary students and teachers for many years. Filled with puns and other wordplay, it’s been compared to a modern Alice in Wonderland. Juster’s picture book The Hello, Goodbye Window earned a Caldecott Medal for illustrator Chris Raschka.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster

Kathleen Krull: Krull was the queen of the juvenile biography. I liked to select books for the library by Krull, because I always knew they would be accurate and highly readable. Her books cover people from a wide span of history and popular culture.

Charles Darwin by Kathleen Krull No Truth Without Ruth by Kathleen Krull  The Brothers Kennedy by Kathleen Krull

Ted Lewin: Both an author and an illustrator, Lewin paid for his art studies at the Pratt Institute with a side gig as a professional wrestler. Ted and his wife Betsy Lewin, also an illustrator, took much of their inspiration from their travels to exotic locations. When writing this blog, I was surprised to find that Ted Lewin did the illustrations for The Island of the Blue Dolphins, work reminiscent of the book illustrations of N.C. Wyeth.

Look! by Ted Lewin Horse Song by Ted and Betsy Lewin Balarama by Ted and Betsy Lewin

Ann Rinaldi: Rinaldi is well-known for her historical fiction written for upper elementary school students. Although she didn’t publish any new books in the last years of her life, she remained popular with students. In addition to many stand-alone titles, she also contributed two books to the Dear America series.

The Second Bend in the River by Ann Rinaldi The Redheaded Princess by Ann Rinaldi Girl in Blue by Ann Rinaldi

It’s never too late to discover these fantastic authors and illustrators!

Animals by Steve Jenkins

I can tell you exactly why I love reading children’s books about animals. During my childhood, my home-town library had a summer reading program where you could read any kind of book and THEN there was a Smokey the Bear program where you needed to read books about animals. My sister just tolerated the nature books, but I loved them. Thank you, St. Simons Public Library!

I think one of the best author/illustrators of animal books for children is Steve Jenkins. His primary medium is cut paper, and he has illustrated his own books, he’s written and illustrated with his wife Robin Page, and he’s illustrated books for other authors like April Pulley Sayre. Jenkins’ books typically focus on one aspect of the animal world, such as relationships, habitats, camouflage, etc. You are guaranteed to learn something amazing with each of his books!

Actual Size by Steve Jenkins Animals in Flight How to Clean a Hippopotamus by Steve Jenkins

Biggest, Strongest, Fastest by Steve Jenkins Sisters & Brothers by Steve Jenkins

What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins Eye to Eye by Steve Jenkins  Living Color by Steve Jenkins

Look Again by Steve Jenkins How Many Ways Can You Catch a Fly? by Steve Jenkins Bees, Snails, & Peacock Tails by Steve Jenkins

Children’s Author Patricia Polacco

One of the best-loved authors of children’s books, Patricia Polacco finds inspiration in family stories and in historical events. Although some of her books are written for a very young audience, other books are most suitable for older children and actually are wonderful to share with people of all ages. To locate her books at the library, you may need to consult the online catalog or ask for help, because her books can be found in the Board Book area, the Picture Book collection, or the Juvenile Fiction area.

Polacco’s latest book, The Bravest Man in the World is an account of Wallace Hartley, a fiddle player who continued to play as the Titanic was sinking.

The Bravest Man in the World by Patricia Polacco

Polacco often draws on her family’s Ukrainian-Jewish ancestry. This heritage is highlighted in books like Chicken Sunday, Rechenka’s Eggs, and The Keeping Quilt.

Chicken Sunday by Patricia Polacco  Rechenka's Eggs by Patricia Polacco

The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco

As a child, Polacco experienced difficulty reading due to dyslexia. She honors the teachers who encouraged her in The Art of Miss Chew, Thank You, Mr. Falker, and Mr. Wayne’s Masterpiece.

The Art of Miss Chew by Patricia Polacco   Thank You, Mr. Falker

Mr. Wayne's Masterpiece