Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Book Trailer Premiere: Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell

Hi, Matthew! Welcome back to Watch. Connect. Read. It is always a good day when you visit. Thank you for dropping by to share the book trailer for Wolf in the Snow and to finish my sentences.

Matthew Cordell: Thanks so much for having me, John! A lot has happened for you since you helped launch the trailer for Wish. It’s been a joy to watch. It’s an honor and pleasure to come back and do this again with you.

Thank you, Matthew! A lot has happened for you as well. Thanks for all you do to make this world a better and brighter place. 

The book trailer for Wolf in the Snow gets to, I think, much of what the heart of the book is about for me. What do we do when confronted with a difficult choice? When there is fear and suffering, do we think of ourselves, acting in our own best interests? Or do we go beyond that and think of those around us? And who are the ones around us? Are they good? Bad? Are we good? Bad? As we are confronted with so many stereotypes and prejudices—about ourselves and others—we should all always be challenging ourselves with these questions and answers. Now more than ever. Adults and children alike.

Wolf in the Snow’s cover shows the book’s two heroes. A girl and a wolf pup. The girl in this story is a very brave soul. The pup is brave to trust her. What happens when the girl reunites the pup with its pack takes incredible courage. And what happens after that takes incredible trust on behalf of everyone. To me, a wolf is a powerfully brave and loving creature. Loyal to family. And fiercely protective. I kept asking myself… is the “wolf” in this book just the wolf? Or is it the girl too?

Illustration Credit: Matthew Cordell
I created the illustrations in my favorite blend of pen and ink drawing with watercolor painting. But the art in this book is slightly different from some of my others. The girl and surrounding nature are drawn very loosely and minimally—as I tend to do. But the wolves are drawn more realistically and more detailed than I typically draw. For one, to suggest the distinct difference between wolf and human. How we might think and react and how they might. I hope the art will also put the reader in a very real place as they see the wolves drawn in this way. It takes a lot of courage for the girl to do what she does in the book—to bring a lost wolf pup back to its pack. Before she, also lost, finds her own way home. It was essential to depict the wolves more realistically to draw out these feelings of fear and, ultimately, reassurance that play out in the book.

Illustration Credit: Matthew Cordell 
I hope Wolf in the Snow leads children and adults to want to learn more about wolves. I knew next to nothing about wolves when I first embarked upon the journey of making this book. As I tried (and failed many times) to find the story in this book, I found another entirely true story about wolves. They have been demonized throughout literature. (Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, etc.) Which has led to the unfair treatment and relentless killing of these noble creatures. In fact, they are highly complex, intelligent animals. They want much of the same things that we want. Safety. Family. Companionship. Joy. Life. They are wild animals, but they are not bloodthirsty and vicious. They hunt animals—not humans—purely for survival. And wolves have come to fear humans, just as we have come to fear them.

Illustration Credit: Matthew Cordell 
Wordless picture books are deceptively difficult. They are difficult to make and they are difficult to read. Because there are no words, the visual language needs to be clearer than ever. Because there are no words, they can be read in a multitude of ways. This can be a wonderful thing. Or—if confusing—this could be the worst thing. When a wordless picture book works, it is brilliant. I won’t try and shoot for brilliance, but I’ll just hope that my book works.
Publication Date: August 15, 2017 

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about the music in this book trailer. It’s a song by one of my all-time favorite bands, Archers of Loaf! They’ve been in heavy listening rotation for me starting in my college years and up to now. These guys were incredibly gracious to allow me to use this beautiful little waltz for this book trailer. (They are normally a rock band, but this song closes out their 1996 album, All the Nations Airports.) I think it fits the book so perfectly.

Look for Wolf in the Snow on January 3, 2017. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

December #SharpSchu Book Club Meeting

Mr. Colby Sharp, Chris Barton, Don Tate, Josh Funk, and I hope you will participate in the #SharpSchu Twitter Book Club on Thursday, December 15. :) 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Happy Saturday, Mr. Colby Sharp!

Hi, Mr. Sharp, 

I hope you had a terrific Thanksgiving with your family! I'm looking forward to Skyping with your students next week to discuss the 2017 Mock Caldecott selections. Which book should we read together? :) 

See you soon!

Your friend,


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Let's Turn This Painting into Books! A Guest Post by Sophie Blackall

I have so loved hearing about schools that run mock Caldecott Awards but I have also been hearing from librarians and teachers how they struggle to buy new books. How they often supplement the classroom library out of their own pockets.

Around this time last year I held a fundraiser to send sets of 10 new picture books to schools in need. 
I thought maybe there was a way of turning a drawing into a pile of new picture books. Because while there’s nothing as comforting as curling up with an old favorite, there’s something thrilling about turning the first page of a brand new one.

I was hoping to be able to fund 60 books for six schools. Thanks to your generosity we raised around $3500, which enabled us to send 200 books to 20 schools. 

So! It's that time again!

Here's how it works. 

This painting is for sale on eBay. It was on the cover of the Horn Book Magazine Awards Edition in June, 2016. Eagle eyes will spot Last Stop on Market Street and The Lion and the MouseThe Snowy Day and Winnie the Pooh.

The listing is live and runs until December 3rd.
I have partnered with the wonderful bookstore, The Curious Reader, who have helped me select 10 beautiful, funny, rich, thoughtful picture books to tempt young readers.

The Airport Book - Lisa Brown
The Case for Loving - Selina Alko and Sean Qualls
Du Iz Tak? - Carson Ellis
Finding Winnie - Lindsay Mattick and Sophie Blackall
Freedom in Congo Square - Carole Boston Weatherford and R. Gregory Christie
The Journey - Francesca Sanna
Penguin Problems - Jory John and Lane Smith
Real Cowboys - Kate Hoefler and Jonathan Bean
This is Not a Picture Book - Sergio Ruzzier
Thunder Boy Jr. - Sherman Alexie and Yuyi Morales 
So now I just need
a) People to bid on the drawing. Click here!
b) Librarians and teachers to enter the draw HERE. 
c)  You to help spread the word! (Please share far and wide!) 

Thank you, all!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Cover Reveal for My Little Half-Moon by Douglas Todd Jennerich and Kate Berube

Hi, Kate Berube! Thank you for dropping by to share the adorable cover for My Little Half-Moon and to finish my sentences. I greatly appreciate it.

Hi John! Thank YOU so much for having me on your lovely blog and for all you do to share and celebrate books!

You're very kind. Let's get started! :)

The cover illustration for My Little Half-Moon was made using collage (as were all the rest of the illustrations in the book.) This is the first book I’ve illustrated using collage. It really freed me up and gave me flexibility and space to be messy and experimental. Which was fantastic, as messy and experimental is the most fun kind of art to make.

Illustration credit: Kate Berube

Douglas Todd Jennerich and I are kindred spirits. When we met for the first time (just last week!) we discovered a number of small details in the book about which we both have the exact same strong opinions without ever having discussed these things during the making of the book. Creating a book with a complete stranger is such an interesting experience. Both people work as hard as they can to create a great book and the combination of the efforts makes something new, which neither person could have come up with on their own. It’s a kind of magic.

Illustration credit: Kate Berube

The moon is a wonder. It’s one of the many parts of the everyday that us adults are usually too busy to notice, but that children pay attention to. I’m so grateful that making My Little Half-Moon focused my thoughts on the moon for all the months I spent working on it. During that time I found I was always aware of what phase the moon was in, I took endless blurry cellphone photos of it and there were quite a few nights I could be found standing in the middle of my street, staring up and making color notes in my sketchbook with a flashlight. 

On May 16, 2017, My Little Half-Moon will be released! I’ll be equal parts excited and nervous. I’ll probably want to hide under my bed (which has been the feeling I’ve had on book release day for both of the other two books I’ve made.) The moon will be a half-moon that day - with 24 days left until it’s full again.

Hannah and Sugar tells the story of a girl finding the courage to do something she finds very scary. I was inspired to write the story because I was thinking a lot about bravery. I'm scared of doing loads of things but I keep learning the lesson, over and over, that I'm most happy when I regularly do things that are scary.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me what I'm working on now! If you had I would have told you I'm currently writing the follow up to Hannah and Sugar, which is also about facing fears, and I'm illustrating a wonderful story by Megan Maynor about a day at the beach. The world feels a little dark right now so I'm also trying to find some things I can do to help make it lighter. One of which is, I'm creating a card with a message of love I’ll be selling online and in Portland shops. All the proceeds I make from it will go to The Children’s Defense Fund. I’ll be posting it online this week! 

Thanks again for having me and for being a champion of books and reading!

Thank you, Kate!

Look for My Little Half-Moon on May 16, 2017.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Congratulations to the 2017 Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children Winners!

I am not at #NCTE16, but I have been following the tweets from the comfort of my living room. Yesterday afternoon, the winners of the Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children were announced. The award was established to "promote and recognize fiction that has the potential to transform children's lives by inviting compassion, imagination, and wonder."

Ghost by Jason Reynolds 


Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian; illustrated by Mike Curato

The Night Gardener by Eric and Terry Fan 

Ms. Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown 


The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner 

Luis Paints the World by Terry Farish; illustrated by Oliver Dominguez 

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk 

A Bandit's Tale by Deborah Hopkinson 

Hoot and Peep by Lita Judge 

One Half from the East by Nadia Hashimi 

The Inquisitor's Tale, Or The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz; illustrated by Hatem Aly


The Princess and the Warrior by Duncan Tonatiuh 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Cover Reveal for Hoot & Honk Just Can't Sleep by Leslie Helakoski

Hi, Leslie! Welcome to Watch. Connect. Read.! I am thrilled you dropped by to share the cover for Hoot and Honk and to finish my sentences.

Leslie Helakoski: Hello, Mr. Schu, I am tickled to be here. One of my favorite things is to Finish Other People’s Sentences! (Did you know this is actually considered rude in some circles?? )

Ha! It is never considered rude here. :) 

The cover illustration for Hoot and Honk Just Can’t Sleep was a lot of fun to create. I used pastel on sanded paper—a  medium I had not used for many years. Literally scribbling with pure pigment was reminiscent of playing with crayons and somehow helped me loosen up and work faster. Both birds, peeking over the edges of the cover, show the playfulness in the story and suggests some discomfort for the two characters. Indicating night fading to day was also important because this is a parallel tale of a nocturnal animal with a diurnal animal and includes opportunities to compare and contrast throughout.

Hoot is an owlet that hatches in a goose nest and cannot sleep during the night like the other chicks in the nest.

Honk is a gosling that hatches in an owl nest and cannot sleep during the day like the other chicks in that nest. Plus he doesn’t much care for what the owls eat.

Illustration Credit: Leslie Helakoski

On March 14, 2017, Hoot and Honk will fly into bookstores around the country and I will open a bottle of champagne and toast Sterling Publishers for bringing this story to life.

Picture books are an opportunity to connect with a young child.

Reading is a way to learn to love to learn.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me what else are you hooting and hollering about these days?
I’m hooting about a long-awaited sequel to Woolbur that will be released in 2018. It is called Ready or Not: Woolbur Goes to School. And I have another Hoot and Honk waiting in the WINGS. (get it?)

Look for Hoot and Honk Just Can't Sleep on March 14, 2017. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Raymie Nightingale and All for Books

Please click here to watch the video. 
Kate DiCamillo’s Raymie Nightingale is one of my favorite books, and All for Books is one of my favorite programs at Scholastic Book Fairs. All for Books is a great way to unite the school community and provide wonderful books for students and teachers. The funds raised can be used to:
  • Give more students a chance to participate in the Book Fair.
  • Add new books to the school library.
  • Help teachers build and refresh their classroom libraries.
  • Donate to another school or community organization in need of books.
Pick up a copy of Raymie Nightingale, and try All for Books during your next Scholastic Book Fair!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Book Trailer Premiere for Swimming with Sharks by Heather Lang and Jordi Solano

Hi, Heather Lang! Happy Tuesday! Thank you for visiting Watch. Connect. Read to share the book trailer for Swimming with Sharks

Heather Lang: Thank you so much for having me, Mr. Schu! I can’t think of a better place to launch my Swimming with Sharks book trailer and introduce readers to the amazing “Shark Lady,” Eugenie Clark. Genie was a daring trailblazer who literally dove in and followed her passion at a time when few women became scientists or explorers.

When you watch this trailer, consider your own perceptions of sharks. Are you afraid of them? If so, why? Personally, I came from the Jaws generation and was terrified of sharks before I began researching this book. Now I would be thrilled to swim with a shark!

What I loved most about Genie was her open-mindedness. She never judged sharks or others based on rumors or appearance. She worked her entire life to replace fear with facts. Genie is a terrific role model for us all.

Working on this book with Genie and meeting with her back in 2014 are among the highlights of my writing life. At the age of 91, Genie hadn’t lost an ounce of enthusiasm for her work and was still swimming with sharks!

I hope this trailer, with Jordi Solano’s incredible illustrations, will connect you to Genie and her world. And for readers, I hope the book ignites an interest in these magnificent fish and our ocean. Nothing would make me happier than if my book made kids want to dive deeper and read more.

Heather Lang is the author of the new picture book biography Swimming with Sharks: The Daring Discoveries of Eugenie Clark, coming out December 1, 2016. Heather loves to research and write about real women who overcame extraordinary obstacles and never gave up on their dreams. Her most recent picture book biography, Fearless Flyer: Ruth Law and Her Flying Machine, earned two starred reviews and is a 2016 Booklist Top Ten Biographies for Youth.

Go to for the Swimming with Sharks Teacher’s Guide and lots more information about Eugenie Clark and sharks. You can follow Heather on Twitter @hblang.

Monday, November 14, 2016

A Declaration in Support of Children | Cross-posted from The Brown Bookshelf

Illustration by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Children’s literature may be the most influential literary genre of all. Picture books, chapter books, middle-grade and young-adult novels all serve the most noble of purposes: to satisfy the need for information, to entertain curious imaginations, to encourage critical thinking skills, to move and inspire. Within their pages, seeds of wisdom and possibility are sown.

Therefore we, the undersigned children’s book authors and illustrators, do publicly affirm our commitment to using our talents and varied forms of artistic expression to help eliminate the fear that takes root in the human heart amid lack of familiarity and understanding of others; the type of fear that feeds stereotypes, bitterness, racism and hatred; the type of fear that so often leads to tragic violence and senseless death.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Check out Katherine Sokolowski's Guest Post for Reader Leader

My friend and middle school teacher Katherine Sokolowski wrote a wonderful post for Scholastic's Reader Leader about the power and importance of well-stocked classroom libraries and connecting with students through books. 

I made the announcement last spring to my fifth grade classes, I would be moving on to our middle school in the fall to teach seventh grade. Amidst the cheers one boy suddenly shouted, “What about our books?” The cheering stopped as kids began to scan our rooms, worry lining their faces, as they looked at the 3000 books that lined our room. I reassured, promising that I would be taking as many books with me as I felt we needed.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Write the Change | A Guest Post by Joseph Kuefler

I write this on November 9, 2016, the morning after more than 59,000,000 Americans took pen in hand to blacken a small oval next to which the words hate and fear and mistruth and “not the other” were printed.

I write this on November 9, 2016, the morning after the pen was once again proven mightier than the sword. Because no gun or stone or balled-up fist could have blunted this country into its new trajectory the way those Bics did.

What hope I have about our collective future comes through the acknowledgment that I, like those 59,000,000 Americans, can take pen in hand, too. But instead of making marks for hate and fear and mistruth and “not the other,” I can make marks for love and courage and honesty and pluralism.

And so, it is with a mix of paralyzing anxiety and grasping-at-straws optimism that I submit to you this:

I do not know what role a picture book can play in healing our spirits and country, but I am going to work like hell to find out—for myself, for my children, and for any child or child-hearted adult who decides what I put between two covers is worth their time.

To be the change we must see the change. To see the change we must write the change.

Will you help me?

Joseph Kuefler is a Twin Cities-based picture book maker and a subscriber to the We Need Diverse Books movement, now more than ever. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Cover Reveal for Jess Keating's What Makes a Monster?

Question: What do Taye Diggs and Jess Keating have in common? 

Answer: They both answered my interview questions via a video. :) 

Jess, thank you VERY much for taking the time to answer my questions! Congratulations on another awesome cover.  I cannot wait to celebrate What Makes a Monster? in 2017. 

What Makes a Monster? by Jess Keating; illustrations by David DeGrand | Publication Date: August 2017. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Creativity Project by Mr. Colby Sharp

Graphic Credit: Frank Viva 
Dear Mr. Sharp,

I kept refreshing Publishers Weekly's website yesterday. I CLAPPED and CHEERED for you, your agent Molly O'Neil, and your editor Susan Rich when THIS ARTICLE appeared. w00t! w00t! 

I know it isn't Saturday, but it felt right to film a short video to celebrate your book announcement. 

Congratulations, Mr. Sharp!

Your friend, 


Sherman Alexie 
Tom Angleberger 
Jessixa Bagley 
Tracey Baptiste 
Sophie Blackall 
Lisa Brown
Peter Brown
Lauren Castillo
Kate DiCamillo
Margarita Engle
Deborah Freedman 
Adam Gidwitz
Chris Grabenstein
Jennifer L. Holm
Victoria Jamieson
Travis Jonker
Jess Keating
Laurie Keller 
Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Kirby Larson 
Grace Lin 
Kate Messner
Daniel Nayeri
Naomi Shihab Nye
Debbie Ridpath Ohi
R.J. Palacio 
Linda Sue Park
Dav Pilkey 
Andrea Davis Pinkney
Jewell Parker Rhodes
Dan Santat
Gary Schmidt 
John Schu
Colby Sharp
Bob Shea
Liesl Shurtliff
Lemony Snicket
Laurel Snyder
Javaka Steptoe
Mariko Tamaki
Linda Urban
Frank Viva 
Kat Yeh 

Click here to read more about The Creativity Project

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

2017 Mock Caldecott

Happy Picture Book Month! I am participating in a 2017 Mock Caldecott unit with Mr. Colby Sharp's third graders. We will read, evaluate, and discuss twenty picture books. 

  1. In identifying a “distinguished American picture book for children,” defined as illustration, committee members need to consider:
    1. Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed;
    2. Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept;
    3. Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept;
    4. Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures;
    5. Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.
  2. The only limitation to graphic form is that the form must be one which may be used in a picture book. The book must be a self-contained entity, not dependent on other media (i.e., sound, film or computer program) for its enjoyment.
  3. Each book is to be considered as a picture book. The committee is to make its decision primarily on the illustration, but other components of a book are to be considered especially when they make a book less effective as a children’s picture book. Such other components might include the written text, the overall design of the book, etc. (Please click here to view the full manual.) 

Nominee 1: Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley; illustrated by Lauren Castillo 

I revealed the cover for Twenty Yawns on August 27, 2015. 

It was such an honor to be asked to illustrate Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smileys debut picture book, Twenty Yawns. When I first read the manuscript, I immediately imagined Southern California, and knew I would need to make a trip out there for some inspiration. Travel builds visual vocabulary, and whenever I go somewhere new it helps me grow as an artist. Little did I know taking on this project would prompt me to relocate to the West Coast for eight sunny months. I made all the illustrations for this book while living in a tiny beach house rental in North County San Diego. Click here to read the rest of Lauren's introduction to the cover.

Nominee 2: School's First Day of School by Adam Rex; illustrated by Christian Robinson
Adam Rex and Christian Robinson visited Mr. Colby Sharp's school on September 30, 2016. 

Nominee 3: This Is Not a Picture Book by Sergio Ruzzier 

I interviewed Sergio on May 19, 2016. 

Hi, Sergio! Welcome back to Watch. Connect. Read! I’ve had a blast talking about This Is Not a Picture Book during my GREAT BOOKS of the Year presentations. What planted the seed for This Is Not a Picture Book? 

Sergio Ruzzier: Hi, Mr. Schu! Thank you so much for sharing my book. It means a lot to me. For a long time, I had a vision in my head of a little character, face immersed in a book, walking across ever-changing landscapes. So, it was more of a visual beginning, I guess, but only when I thought of the words that could go with those pictures, did I understand there was a story worth sharing.

I LOVE This Is Not a Picture Book’s endpapers. Did the idea for the endpapers come to you right away? 

Sergio: Not right away. It was during the development of my original dummy, when talking with my editor, Victoria Rock, and designer, Sara Gillingham, that we thought we could use the endpapers to enhance the idea behind the story, and to make it more interactive. It actually works beautifully during school visits: before starting reading the book, I ask a kid oreven better —a teacher or a librarian to read aloud the front endpapers, the ones with the text all messed up. It’s easy to imagine how much the kids laugh at the adults’ disastrous efforts. At the end, I ask the kids to read the legible version, which is a great way to end the reading.

Nominee 4: Shy by Deborah Freedman 

I’m obsessed with books. Obviously. I’m in the club, after all, and isn’t an obsession with books our only membership requirement?

I do read eBooks, but like so many members of our tribe, my husband and I also have actual books in every room of our house, piles of them, as though they have to be there hold up the walls. As though they ARE our walls. Even if we had enough shelves (we don’t), we would still keep those piles of art, story, poetry… read and unread, at arm’s length. We need them there. They inspire us. They connect us to each other and to readers like you.

What a wonderful object, the book! I love that I’m allowed to tell stories with every inch of it. When writing and illustrating I like to think about the whole package, about everything that makes a book a book and what it means to the reading experience: like the jacket, the cover beneath, endpapers, pages that turn, the gutter. -Click here to read the rest of Deborah's essay for Nerdy Book Club. 

Nominee 5: Be a Friend by Salina Yoon 

I premiered Be a Friend's book trailer on November 12, 2015. 

Nominee 6: We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen 

Nominee 7: It Is Not Time for Sleeping by Lisa Graff; illustrated by Lauren Castillo 

Lisa Graff: So! Lauren! Tell me about this gorgeous cover! How did it come about? Did you know right away generally how you wanted it to look? Or was it more of a process?

Lauren Castillo: Ohhh, I am so relieved to know that you are pleased with the cover! I have to say, I was pretty nervous to work on the art for our book. This is the first time that I have illustrated a picture book by an author who happens to also be a good friend. With every book I illustrate my hope is that the author will be happy with the art, of course, but I really REALLY wanted you to be happy.

So, about the cover:

I did have some specific thoughts very early on about how I wanted it to look. 

A few years ago, around the same time you shared the manuscript for IT IS NOT TIME FOR SLEEPING with me, I found an old gem from my childhood collection called KINDNESS IS A LOT OF THINGS, written by Edith Eckblad and illustrated by Bonnie and Ruth Rutherford. That jacket image and design stayed with me, and I imagined a similar looking cover for our book. 

When I was close to finishing up the interior art last fall, I did some quick scribbles and sent them along to Jen (Greene) and Christine (Kettner) with a note that said something like, “ Lisas story is so classic, and I think the cover should feel like a bit of a throw back.”

They agreed — YAY.

Nominee 8: Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat 

Nominee 9: Ideas Are All Around by Philip C. Stead 

Margie Myers-Culver reviewed Ideas Are All Around on March 25, 2016. 

At puppy Xena's first visit to the vet we were told as a sporting dog she needed long walks every single day.  So we did. In sickness and health (mine) not a day was missed.  There was also a great deal of running, swimming and hole digging (hers).  That's a lot of miles covered over fifteen years although during the last twelve months the walks became strolls and were shorter with lots of sniffing and pausing on her part.

All that walking for humans does not equal the same degree of senses used as it does for dogs.  Although there is quite a bit of seeing, smelling, and hearing what seems to happen the most is time for thinking unless you are taking a trip through your neighborhood.  That changes the entire experience.  Ideas Are All Around (A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, March 1, 2016) written and illustrated by Philip C. Stead is about an author in search of an idea. Click here to read the rest of Margie's review

Nominee 10: The Airport Book by Lisa Brown

Mary Ann Scheuer interviewed Lisa Brown on May 9, 2016. 

How do you encourage parents to bring picture books alive for young children when they read them aloud?

It’s funny--there are books I read today that I only hear my father’s voice or my grandmother’s voice reading aloud. I hear my father reading “The Monster at the End of This Book” by Jon Stone. He would read it literally--when Grover was covering the pages with bricks, my father would struggle lifting and turning the page and I loved the drama he brought to it. Click here to read the rest of the interview. 

Nominee 11: A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day by Andrea Davis Pinkney; illustrated by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson

"Like many children, Andrea recognized herself in Ezra Jack Keats’s iconic hero, Peter. She remembers, 'I saw my brown-skinned self celebrated through Peter’s sense of wonder and discovery. I think I slept with my copy of The Snowy Day. That’s how much the book meant to me.'" Click here to read more. 

Nominee 12: Maybe Something Beautiful by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell; illustrated by Rafael López 

Nominee 13: Horrible Bear! by Ame Dyckman; illustrated by Zachariah OHora

I premiered the book trailer for Horrible Bear! on April 1, 2016. 

Hi, Ame Dyckman! Welcome back to Watch. Connect. Read. I am sooooo excited to share Horrible Bear’s book trailer with everyone.  

Ame Dyckman: HI, and THANKS SO MUCH, Mr. Schu! The whole HORRIBLE Team and I are THRILLED to be back on Watch. Connect. Read. and TURNING CARTWHEELS (OW! MY HEAD! Well, it was a good try!) that you’re premiering HORRIBLE BEAR!’s book trailer! The DigiWizards in Little, Brown’s Digital Marketing Department took Zach’s amazing, HILARIOUS art and made this amazing, HILARIOUS animated trailer! (I’m not sure they’re actually called “DigiWizards.” But, I HOPE SO! On their robes!) Our trailer makes me LAUGH every time I watch it!

Nominee 14: The Night Gardener by The Fan Brothers 

Margie Myers-Culver reviewed The Night Gardener on March 14, 2016. 

Imagine if you will, upon waking, finding something so extraordinary you have to pinch yourself to make sure you are not dreaming.  The Night Gardener (Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, February 16, 2016) written and illustrated by The Fan Brothers (Eric Fan and Terry Fan) explores the idea of a single significant act of beauty as the beginning of marvelous changes.  Something or someone is working a kind of enchantment. Click here to read the rest of the review.

Nominee 15: Henry & Leo by Pamela Zagarenski

In this spare picture book, Zagarenski explores the familiar theme of a stuffed animal becoming real. Leo, a stuffed toy lion, is Henry’s favorite. Click here to read the rest of School Library Journal's starred review of Henry & Leo. 

Nominee 16: They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel 

Carter Higgins featured They All Saw a Cat on October 4, 2016. 

You might have heard about this book. 

You might have read the fascinating and buzz-inducing article on its acquisition. Click here to read the rest. 

Nominee 17: The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas; illustrated by Erin E. Stead 

Jennifer Reed featured The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles on June 20, 2016. 

This book is one stunning package. Stead's art and 
Cuevas' narrative play off each other and build to form one beautiful, evocative, and thoughtful whole. Click here to continue reading.

Nominee 18: Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe 

Daryl Grabarek interviewed Javaka Steptoe for School Library Journal

 When did you first learn about Basquiat?

Basquiat’s imagery started popping up for me when I was in my teens, when I had freedom to move about the city. I wasn’t looking for his graffiti as I traveled around the East Village, but even so, I remember seeing one of his SAMO tags. What interested me about it wasn’t the name, but the line drawing of a face that accompanied it. Later, in 1985, when I was still in high school, I saw the poster, featuring Andy Warhol and Basquiat (both wearing boxing gloves), that advertised a gallery show. It really stood out for me; I thought both looked kind of goofy. But still, I didn’t know who Basquiat was. Click here to read the rest of the interview. 

Nominee 19: Samson in the Snow by Philip C. Stead

Nominee 20: Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherfod; illustrated by R. Gregory Christie 

“Strong acrylic paintings that echo the best of Outsider Art illuminate the equally strong text. Freedom in Congo Square is nothing short of stunning.” -Tomie dePaola


Principal Brian Sammons created a 2017 Mock Caldecott guide and a presentation for his students based on this list. Thank you, Brian!