All of the books that are on the Caldecott list this year are new to me. I hadn’t read any of them as of the awards’ announcement last Monday, but I’m caught up now.
Caldecott Medal Winner: The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney.
I was disappointed with this one, I have to say. But it’s probably more of a personal taste thing. I know Jerry Pinkney’s illustrations are beautiful, and as his books go this one really stood out to me. But it’s not my personal taste in illustrations, and I have a hard time getting students into his books. The text is actually very lengthy and very difficult for my students, and since the artwork is much more traditional they reach for modern, more accessible stories every time. This one has no text, so the Aesop’s Fable is told just through images. Worked into a lesson or story time about the fable I can see it working. But there were other books this year whose illustrations just blew me away. Peter Brown’s The Curious Garden, for example (which I really thought was robbed for not even an Honor this year).
Caldecott Honor Book: All the World, written by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Marla Frazee.
I love, love, love Marla Frazee. Really, I do. And I’m completely charmed by this book and happy to see it take a Caldecott Honor. But it is not as great as her A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever from last year. However, I’m going to try not to compare the two since, after all, I really did like this book. And they are very different. Liz Garton Scanlon’s poem is beautiful, and Frazee’s illustrations give it the kind of look that would make my kids excited about poetry and give them that warm, fuzzy feeling that books should. It’s a book about a family’s day out, a rainstorm, a cafe, a trip home. The multi-racial family would speak to my students as well. There is lots to celebrate with this one, which somehow manages to take the whole big world and make it feel incredibly cozy and familiar.
Caldecott Honor Book: Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors, written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski.
Of the 3 Caldecott books this year, this one is by far my favorite. So much so that it’s visual impact is inspiring my crafty life as well as my book life. The lyrical tale of how colors change and reflect each season is magical to look at, with a crowned figure who dances through the year and acts as a sort of visual narrator for all the colors in nature. The possibilities with this one are endless: nature observation projects with students, poems based on colors, etc. And something about that crowned mystery figure throughout made this feel almost like a fairy tale to me, with the collages and paintings working perfectly to make it feel slightly otherworldly and also perfectly familiar. Books like this are why I’m a childrens’ librarian. I get to combine my love for art with my love for kids and books. Loved it.