2019 Mock Caldecott List

Happy Picture Book Month! I am participating in a 2019 Mock Caldecott unit with Mr. Colby Sharp's fifth graders. We will read, evaluate, and discuss nineteen 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: Dreamers by Yuyi Morales 

I interviewed Yuyi on August 21, 2018

Hi, Yuyi Morales! I cannot say enough WONDERFUL things about Dreamers/Soñadores. I haven’t stopped thinking and talking about it since I experienced you reading it aloud during the Children’s Book and Author Breakfast at Book Expo. Thank you for sharing your heart and soul with the world.

Yuyi: Hi, Mr. Schu! My corazón is in that book because it is a tribute to the people and the places that received me and that were part of my growing up as a new immigrant, a mother, and a creative person. Thank you so much for giving space to my history and my voice to be heard.

Please click here to read the full interview. 

Nominee 2:  The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson; illustrated by Rafael López 

Nominee 3: Imagine by Juan Felipe Herrera; illustrated by Lauren Castillo 

I interviewed Juan and Lauren on February 8, 2018

Juan Felipe, what planted the seed for Imagine?

Juan Felipe: The first line, the feeling of what I was about to write, on a legal-size yellow paper pad,

I truly love how the poem flows and how much it says in a few lines
Lauren, what materials did you use to create the illustrations for Imagine?

Lauren: The art was created in pieces: The line was drawn with ballpoint pen, and the colored backgrounds are foam monoprints made with acrylic paint. I combined the two layers in Photoshop, line over color. I’ve slowly been integrating foam monoprinting into my work, but this is the first book where the technique was used for such a large portion of the art. It felt very freeing, not knowing exactly how a print would turn out, and then embracing the imperfections that monoprint inevitably offers.

Please click here to read the full interview. 

Nominee 4: Thank you, Omu! by Oge Mora 

Nominee 5: Martin Rising: Requiem for a King by Andrea Davis Pinkney; illustrated by Brian Pinkney 

I revealed the cover for Martin Rising on May 24, 2017

Brian Pinkney says. . .

The cover illustration for Martin Rising: Requiem for a King arrived in my mind’s eye like a quiet, powerful storm. It was as if Martin’s essence was guiding my hand as I painted. Inspired by the work of artists like Chagalland abstract expressionist Norman Lewis, I was flooded with emotion as my paintbrush played with color and form.  The cover is rendered in watercolor, gouache, and ink. My hope is to depict the soaring spiritual heights of Martin’s life that inspired all of us to rise to our greatest selves, while at the same time, rejoicing in the feet-on-the-ground dedication of so many protesters who marched for equality during the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike, the final civil rights movement Martin led before his tragic death.

Andrea and I try to fill each and every book we create with the most powerful force in the world — love. This is especially true for Martin Rising, a book that celebrates the love Martin had for his wife, Coretta, and their children, but also the admiration he instilled in the hearts of the human family. As husband and wife collaborators, Andrea and I begin each project by tapping into the deep devotion and respect we have for each other and for our own children and family. We let that energy serve as our creative guide that is expressed through words and illustrations. Andrea’s historical “docu-poems” burst forth throughout Martin Rising. As soon as I read them, I knew that I wanted to punctuate her nonfiction narrative with paintings that convey the metaphorical impact of Martin’s mission. 

Please click here to read the full interview. 

Nominee 6: Blue by Laura Vaccaro Seeger 

Nominee 7: Drawn Together by Minh Lê; illustrated by Dan Santat 

I interviewed Minh on October 16, 2017

Hi, Minh! Thank you for dropping by to chat with me about your BEAUTIFUL picture book, Drawn Together. Is Drawn Togetherbased on your relationship with your grandfather?

Minh Lê: Yes! I would say it's based/inspired by my relationship with my grandfather specifically, but is also a tribute to all my grandparents. 

Vietnamese was my first language (there's even video to prove it), but I let it slip away, which means much of our relationship was defined by what we could not say to each other. 

For us it was a literal language barrier, but as you know, you can also speak the same language and still have trouble communicating/connecting. It's been so touching to already hear of Drawn Together resonating for people with all different kinds of personal experiences.

Unfortunately, my grandfather and I never really quite figured out how to fully bridge the language gap, but I still always felt a strong connection to him. And there was never any doubt about the love between us. 

Some things just go without saying.

Please click here to read the full interview. 

Nominee 8: Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall 

Nominee 9: What If... by Samantha Berger; illustrated by Mike Curato 

I interviewed Samantha and Mike on March 30, 2018

Hello, Mike Curato! Thank you for finishing my sentences. 

Mike: WHAT IF...I’m so happy to be back!? Thanks for having us, Mr. Schu!

Samantha’s text…
-gives me CHILLS!
-speaks right to my heart.
-consists of words that are so carefully selected, sculpted, and polished that you could find actual pieces of marble sprinkled under her desk.
Please click here to read the full interview.

Nominee 10: Fox & Chick: The Party and Other Stories by Sergio Ruzzier 

Nominee 11: They Say Blue by Jillian Tamaki 

Jillian finished my sentences on October 2, 2017. 

Everyone moves through the world differently. But how we perceive the world is also a spectrum within every individual that shifts from moment to moment. They Say Blue aims to capture the experience of moving through the natural world—questioningly, emotionally, scientifically, imaginatively. The child in the book is a daydreamer and intense observer who is starting to explore the world around her and see the connections between it and herself. She questions language, idioms, and common knowledge, holding them up against what she sees with her own eyes.

I hope readers of They Say Blue like it! Ha ha. I try to make readers feel a lot of things when they read any book I make, but I realize that once a book is out in the world, every reader is going to overlay their own experiences and take away different things. The environments in the book are inspired by landscapes I have known in my life; I hope to transport readers there viscerally, even if they have never experienced snow personally. 

Please click here to read the full post. 

Nominee 12: The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld 

Nominee 13: Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal 

Nominee 14: Everything You Need for a Treehouse by Carter Higgins; illustrated by Emily Hughes 

Nominee 15: A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin 

I premiered the above video on August 28, 2018

Nominee 16: Otis and Will Discover the Deep: The Record-Setting Dive of the Bathysphere by Barb Rosenstock; illustrated by Katherine Roy 

Nominee 17: The Stuff of Stars by Marion Dane Bauer; illustrated by Ekua Holmes 

Nominee 18: What Do You DO With a Voice Like That? The True Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan by Chris Barton; illustrated by Ekua Holmes 

Nominee 19: Zola's Elephant by Randall de Sève; illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski 

I wrote the words in purple, and Randall wrote the words in black. Thank you, Randall! 

Zola’s Elephant tells the story of a shy and imaginative little girl who concocts an outrageous tale to avoid initiating a friendship. We all do this sometimes, don’t we? Make up stories about people, rather than really getting to know them… Or is that just me?

Pamela Zagarenski’s illustrations slay me. Not only does she brilliantly illuminate the text of Zola’s Elephant but she suggest so many other stories with her cast of whimsical characters, some familiar to her work, others born on these pages. What’s the balloon man’s tale? Whose rocking horse is that? And why is it on every page? Thanks, Pamela, for this treasure trove of new ideas! 

Please click here to read the full interview. 


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