Thursday, January 30, 2014

2014 Caldecott Winners

I heard a great deal of laughter and clapping when the 2014 Caldecott committee called Brian Floca, Aaron Becker, Molly Idle, and David Wiesner. What a surreal feeling that must have been for the illustrators and committee members.  

All four of this year's Caldecott winners were on our Mock Caldecott list, so you can imagine how thrilled and enthusiastic my students were when I announced the actual winners yesterday. Congratulations to the winners and the committee members! 

Locomotive by Brian Floca | 2014 Caldecott Medal 

Brian Floca discusses Locomotive. 

Brian Floca presented at the 2013 National Book Festival. 

Anita Silvey celebrated Locomotive on October 21, 2013. 

"He tells SLJ that he was still “in a dream state” this morning since the call from the Caldecott Committee—at 6:46 a.m.—left him feeling “stunned” and satisfied. “It’s a very happy, gratifying, thing,” he says. “I’ve been so happy and honored by the reception the book has had. There are a lot of great books out this year. I was aware there had been some conversation about [my] book, but also conversation about a lot of other great books.” -School Library Journal

Journey by Aaron Becker | 2014 Caldecott Honor

Journey's book trailer is one of the best I've ever watched.

Aaron Becker answered Holly Mueller's questions.

Aaron Becker created this dot for International Dot Day.

The Making of Journey 

Explore Aaron Becker's website.

"...Becker's book has a beauty distinctly its own." - Sarah Harrison Smith 

Margie featured Journey on August 29, 2013. 

Download this Q&A with Aaron Becker. 

Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle | 2014 Caldecott Honor 

Mr. Schu: Thank you for creating one of the most innovative wordless picture books. What planted the seed for Flora and the Flamingo?

Molly Idle: It was actually a little row of seeds... One small idea after another that cross pollinated and blossomed into what became Flora and the Flamingo.

The first seed was the title- which was originally,  Flamingo Dancing. At the time, my sons were learning to talk, often with charming and giggle-inducing results. I started thinking about words or phrases that baffled me as a kid. One such was "flamenco dancing"- which I long believed was pronounced "flamingo dancing". I recall being puzzled that there were no flamingos involved. 

So I drew a dancing flamingo, but he needed a partner...

That was the next seed... A flower seed as it turns out... A little girl, drawn as an homage to my darling nieces (whom my sister made wear matching suits and swim-caps every summer when they were little).
My amazing art director Amy Achaibou-  inspired by the little flowers featured on the swim cap- dubbed her Flora.

So, I had my characters and I knew that I wanted to tell a story through dance...But what was the story?

Then sprang up the third seed. My oldest son was just starting kindergarten, and trying to figure out the whole process of making friends. It's a tough business to figure out when you're five... Heck, it can be tough to figure out when you're 35! And it occurred to me how much the back and forth nature of give and take in a friendship is like a dance.

That's when all of the seeds started to grow together.

Mr. Schu: Did you always know Flora and the Flamingo was going to have interactive flaps and gatefolds?

Molly Idle: Yes! But my original dummy was for a 16 page book with flaps on every page.  I had it laid out so that you could read the story without flipping any flaps, or by just flipping Flora's flaps, or just the Flamingo's flaps, or by flipping each of their flaps in turn... You, the reader, determined entirely how the story and their friendship progressed.

When I sat down with Amy (Achaibou), and my editor Julie Romeis,  to work out the final layout, we agreed that this interaction was key to the story. But we also agreed that it might be more powerful if we chose to limit the flaps to key moments in the story.

We began by spreading out all of the flaps into individual pages- so it was a straightforward wordless picture book. Then, we started going back in and playing with the placement and pacing of the flaps.

Mr. Schu: The music used in the book trailer perfectly matches Flora and Flamingo’s dance. Did you select  the music?

Molly Idle: I did- it's the Blue Danube Waltz by Strauss. It’s such a happy happenstance that it works on so many levels. It's a classical tune that is accessible and recognizable, even to very young children, (thanks to its use in so many classic Loony Tunes cartoons). And, the little "bum-bum, bum-bum" in the refrain lent itself to the back and forth flip-flap rhythm created when you play with the flaps in FLORA. And then there's the name of piece... Seeing as the entire dance between Flora and the Flamingo takes place in water... a piece of dance music named for a body of water seemed too good a pairing to pass up!

Mr. Schu: Are you a dancer?

Molly Idle: I took lessons in ballet and tap when I was little, but I really only have coordination in my drawing hand... The only dancing I do these days is boogying around the house with my boys. And even then, I look much more like Elaine from Seinfeld (see video below) than a graceful flamingo!

Mr. Schu: How does your background in animation influence your work?

Molly Idle: Hugely! And not just in my drawing style- though I know that is where the influence is most evident. But it's also in the way I approach the development of a story. I tend to think of each book as a movie- and each spread in the book as a scene. And in the case of FLORA, the flaps are like "key frames", or extreme poses, that guide the timing and action in an animated scene.

Mr. Schu: Please share three of your favorite wordless picture books.

Molly Idle: It's tough to pick just three... But here goes!

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

Wave by Suzy Lee

The Chicken Thief  by Beatrice Rodriguez

Mr. Schu: Please complete these sentence starters:

Picture books are windows that open up to reveal a larger world.

Reading is the key to everything else.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me...
Who is my favorite (non-pink) dancing duo!
Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor, in Singing In The Rain! If you haven't seen them before, and even if you have- watch this:

These two are awesome- their feet are positively flying! But what's more, if you watch their faces closely, there are some looks they exchange with one another that couldn’t have been scripted. Looks that say more eloquently than words ever could, the joy and camaraderie they feel dancing together.
That feeling... the absolute joy that comes from loving what you do... Whether it's dancing or drawing... there's nothing like it.

Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner | 2014 Caldecott Honor

Three-time Caldecott Medalist David Wiesner visited my school library on October 8, 2013. I hope you enjoy looking at the photographs and vines that I took during David Wiesner Day!

"Well, nothing is boring about Mr. Wuffles! The action moves forward at a swift pace; the pictures contain an enormous amount of visual energy." -Anita Silvey 


  1. What a treasure you've created here! Thank you!

  2. Oh, how I love this post!! I could watch the video Aaron Becker made for my 5th graders OVER and OVER (and I have). I'm so happy about all the winners. What beautiful books. I think it's the first time I owned all the Caldecott winners before the announcements! Thanks for all these great resources, Mr. Schu. I will be sharing this post with my students!