2016 Mock Caldecott

Not all the nominees are pictured above. 
Happy Picture Book Month! My students at Rutgers University will participate in a 2016 Mock Caldecott unit with Mr. Colby Sharp's third graders. We will read, evaluate, and discuss twenty-two 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: Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman; illustrated by Zachariah Ohora  

Ame and Zachariah participated in a #SharpSchu trifecta on February 15, 2015. 

Ame and I played a word association game. I wrote the words in red, and Ame wrote the words in black. 





*Zachariah OHora: 

GENIUS! (and TALL! It was a tie.)

*Little, Brown: 


*Picture books: 




*Tea party:








*K.G. Campbell: 


*New York: 


*Colby Sharp: 




*Books of Wonder: 

DISNEYLAND! (For books!)

*Picture books are... 

little doorways to a magic world--and much more 
portable than a wardrobe.

Nominee 2: Beyond the Pond by Joseph Kuefler 

Carter Higgins interviewed Joseph on September 29, 2015. 

"When it comes to final art, I work digitally, more out of necessity than choice. At the moment, picture books aren’t my day job, so I need to work from anywhere and everywhere. I was traveling a lot for work in the early stages of illustrating POND. Much of the book was illustrated from airplane seats and hotel rooms, cramped rides on bus benches and stolen moments in the office." -Click here to read the full interview. 

Nominee 3: Boats for Papa by Jessixa Bagley 

Margie Myers-Culver reviewed Boats for Papa on August 2, 2015. 

"Boats For Papa written and illustrated by Jessixa Bagley is a beautiful picture book debut.  A double twist at the end will leave you emotionally moved.  This is a book for every reader, for those who have loved and lost and for those who need to understand this loss.  Everyone will want to have it on their personal and professional book shelves." -Click here to read the full review. 

Nominee 4: Wait by Antoinette Portis 

I interviewed Antoinette on July 26, 2015. 

I hope Wait inspires adults to slow down and admire the world with their children.

Antoinette Portis: I hope it does, too. When my daughter was 18 months old, I took off work for a year. We would go to the park and dig in the sand and roam around and collect bark, twigs, seed pods, leaves, pebbles. I slowed down to kid speed and started paying attention to stuff that I’d been too harried to notice.  An unexpected bonus was I started making art again (which I hadn’t done since I started working after art school) and just generally felt more creative. Sasha was my life teacher in toddler form. Everything gave her joy. She beamed love at strangers. Life was an exciting adventure that she met with pure enthusiasm. Her attitude woke me up to a greater sense of joy at being on this earth.

I see “Wait” moments happening everywhere. Just yesterday, I walked out my door and a mom and dad were taking a stroll with their toddler. The little boy was stopped at our corner, gazing at two dogs across the street. His parents had moved a bit farther down the block, and I could tell they were a bit impatient for him to catch up, but they let him be.
Anything out of the ordinary drew his attention. Here was this free-ranging curiosity, just waiting to light on something. He exulted in each discovery: a tree stump makes an excellent dais. Suddenly the world was at his feet—I could read that on his face.
I see children’s curiosity as an expression of human intelligence, not an artifact of childhood. It’s the same curiosity that led us to figure out how to send a probe out 3 billion miles into space to send back pictures of Pluto. - Click here to read the full interview.

Nominee 5: A Fine Dessert by Emily Jenkins; illustrated by Sophie Blackall 

Margie Myers-Culver featured A Fine Dessert on January 27, 2015. 

"There is an abundance of moments brimming with calm (not to be confused with quiet), comfort and connection when people gather to share a meal.  If it's been prepared by one or more of them, it's even better.  It's almost like a dance when you work with someone in the kitchen making food for family or friends." -Click here to read the full review. 

Nominee 6: Waiting by Kevin Henkes 

I interviewed Kevin Henkes after he won a Newbery Honor for The Year of Billy Miller

"Reading is a constant wonder and one of the things that keeps me going." -Click here to read the full interview.  

Nominee 7: Water is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle by Miranda Paul; illustrated by Jason Chin

Nominee 8: Toys Meet Snow by Emily Jenkins; illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky

Paul O. Zelinsky visited Jennifer Reed's school on October 30, 2015. Read about his visit here

Nominee 9: The Whisper by Pamela Zagarenski

"I do all of my sketch work for my books in my journals.  I have lots of ideas…some things become “real” and others don’t.  I just play, and I write, and eventually the pieces come together to form something in paint and words.
I will write story ideas. I also write things that happen in my life.  On this particular day I wrote about the black widow spider who appeared on my studio window with her egg sack while creating The Whisper.  I imagined she had come to inspire me with words, and I named her Emily Bronte…(Charlotte-of course was her famous spider sister)." -Click here to read more. 

Nominee 10: Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl's Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle; illustrated by Rafael Lopez

Look for my interview with Rafael Lopez later in the week.

"I created the illustrations for Drum Dream Girl trying to dance intuitively between dreams and reality. I wanted readers to enter our heroine's surreal world with us and crisscross that river of abstraction back to realism. It was important to build a visual bridge connecting those two compelling aspects of Milo's story." -Rafael Lopez 

Nominee 11: My Cousin Momo by Zachariah Ohora 

Colby Sharp interviewed Zachariah on February 15, 2015. 

What’s the hardest thing about being an illustrator?
Realizing that rejection is part of the job. If you are planning on a career as a writer or an illustrator get used to rejection. Go back to the “drawing board” and come back with another idea. -Click here to read the full interview. 

Nominee 12: Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Christian Robinson 

Meghan Premo-Hopkins came up with five creative and easy crafts to go along with Leo: A Ghost Story. 

Nominee 13: Yard Sale by Eve Bunting; illustrated by Lauren Castillo 

I interviewed Lauren Castillo a few days after she won a Caldecott Honor for Nana in the City

"Reading is transformative, like a nana's red cape." -Click here to read the full interview.

Nominee 14: Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick; illustrated by Sophie Blackall 

"Illustrating Finding Winnie took over a year. The very last thing I did was the cover. Sometimes covers come easily, sometimes it's a torturous process. This one, while not exactly torturous, was a little elusive. " -Sophie Blackall | Click here to read her full post about creating Finding Winnie's cover. 

Nominee 15: Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña; illustrated by Christian Robinson  

Matt de la Peña finished my sentences on December 12, 2014. 

I wrote Last Stop on Market Street to honor Christian’s Nana and my Mexican grandma, and to feature diverse characters in a book that has nothing to do with diversity.

When I was CJ’s age I had a big head, and big ears, and I always wore my favorite black and white polka dot shirt, and the older kids said I looked like a Monchichi (and based on a few old pictures, I guess I sort of did).

Click here to read the full interview. 

Nominee 16: If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson 

Margie Myers-Culver reviewed If You Plant a Seed on March 12, 2015. 

"The luminosity in the paintings rendered by Kadir Nelson for this book is visible as soon as you look at the matching dust jacket and book case.  The souls seen in the eyes of his animals and the way they hold their bodies is truly breathtaking." -Click here to read the full review. 

Nominee 17: Float by Daniel Miyares 

I interviewed Daniel Miyares on August 30, 2015. 

What planted the seed for Float?

Daniel Miyares: I was on a plane flying home from my Aunt’s funeral. It had been raining all day and I did this small ink sketch of a boy floating a paper boat in a puddle. I wondered what happened before that moment and drew that. Then I wondered what happened immediately after and drew that. I went on like this throughout the flight until I found the beginning and the end of the story. I’ve always used drawing as a way to quietly make sense of the world around me. Not sure if that’s what I was doing then, but it was a very introspective time for me. - Click here to read the full interview.

Nominee 18: Lenny and Lucy by Philip Stead; illustrated by Erin Stead 

"A few weeks ago Erin and I were visited by an old friend. Our friend is a big bear of a man with a fluffy white beard. He is the kind of person, both in looks and in demeanor, who must spend much of his December every year convincing children that he is not, in fact, Santa Claus. This friend has been in both of our lives since we were teenagers, and is one of the only people who can say they knew us each individually before we knew each other. He is Mike Foye, our high school art teacher. Erin and I met in high school art class. Or, more specifically, we met in Erin’s high school art class. Erin had third period independent drawing class and I had a free hour. All of my free time was spent in the art room back then. My entire life would be different today if that had not been the case." -Philip Stead |Click here to read the full post. 

Nominee 19: Growing Up Pedro by Matt Tavares 

Matt Tavares compiled these online resources for Growing Up Pedro:

Download a free teachers guide.

Q and A with Chad Finn of Boston.com, on the Touching All the Bases blog.

Here's an interview I did with the Smart Books for Smart Kids blog.

And this one I did with Sports Illustrated Kids.

I chatted with Rob Caldwell about Growing Up Pedro on 207.

Nominee 20: By Mouse and Frog by Deborah Freedman 

Deborah Freedman shared this on the Nerdy Book Club's blog on April 12, 2015. 

Nominee 21: Special Delivery by Philip Stead; illustrated by Matthew Cordell 

Philip and Matthew participated in a #SharpSchu trifecta on March 3, 2015. 

If we had been friends in middle school, what books would I have found on your bookshelf?

Philip Stead: Well, in 6th and 7th grade I took a hiatus from Literature with a capital L and spent most of my personal reading time hanging out with Spider-Man and Luke Skywalker. I sometimes wonder if those Star Wars fan fiction books were as good as I remember them. Until about 5th grade though it was all Roald Dahl all the time. I really believe that my time with Dahl at ages 9-11 continues to inform my whole personality to this day. One particular passage from The BFG comes to mind as being as one of the big Ah-hah! moments of my childhood. It’s the passage where the BFG gives his speech about the violence that “human beans” do to one another. I don’t think I had another Ah-hah! moment like that until I discovered Kurt Vonnegut in college. People always describe Dahl (and Vonnegut for that matter) as being “wicked”. But to me, all of Dahl’s books are about kindness. -Click here to read the full interview.

Nominee 22: The Night World by Mordicai Gerstein

Are you pronouncing Mordicai Gerstein's name correctly? 


Enjoy every minute of Picture Book Month! 


  1. Far, far away my third graders will be reading and discussing these books too!

  2. Thanks Mr. Schu & Mr. Sharp! ❤️ I've read most but there are some new ones to add!

  3. Thank you for all of your work.

  4. These are beautiful! There are some great conversations in these!

  5. This is fantastic! Thank so much!


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