My brain is still in picture-book mode from choosing the picture book titles for our Booktalk Now! Spring Webcast, so I must say I am really looking forward to the Caldecott picks this year. There are so many great books that I could see taking the award or an honor, but I’ve narrowed down my predictions to just four:
- Grandpa Green by Lane Smith – I really love this book. It is a tribute to grandparents that will be treasured by many families, but it is also an opportunity to inspire kids to think about the way that art can capture history—personal or otherwise. I’d love to see young people sculpting their own memories after reading this book or perhaps creating some other tribute to what has come before them. What better book to win an award for the art than one with such potential to inspire young artists!
- Won Ton: A Cat Tale in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw and illustrated by Eugene Yelchin – I wouldn’t call myself a “cat person” but even I was charmed by the cat in this picture book. Wardlaw’s haiku match with Yelchin’s graphite and gouache illustrations to create a character in the cat to whom you can’t help but relate. PW called this book “surprisingly powerful,” and I think the book’s overall design plays a role in its emotional impact, which makes it a strong contender, in my opinion.
- I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen – This pick will likely have some naysayers, but I, for one, would love to see more humorous books get honored. This book is wickedly funny, and its use of color to tell the story is really interesting. It’s different, for sure. Maybe too different for the committee? We’ll see!
- Underground by Shane Evans – Underground proves that you don’t need a lot of words to tell a powerful story. Each spread is dominated by dramatic illustrations with only a few well-chosen words to tell the story. If you want to talk about Black History with younger kids, this is the book to use. Evans puts readers there without overwhelming them. It’s intense, but it’s compelling in a way that few picture books are.
I also have my eye on a couple of other awards this year. I’m always interested in the Schneider Family Book Award picks given my personal interest in the way that disabilities are portrayed in fiction. I like Rebecca Elliott’s Just Because for the picture book category. The book opens up the idea that there aren’t answers for why some people can do things others can’t. Sometimes the answer is “Just because.” I highly recommend sharing this book with young people regardless of whether they have anyone in their lives with a disability for its simplicity and charm. For older readers, I enjoyed Now Playing: Stoner & Spaz II by Ron Kortge and The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen for their complex look at life with physical differences.
There are some serious contenders for the Stonewall Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award this year. In particular, I am J by Cris Beam stands out as an authentic look at a transgender teen who hopes one day his parents will accept him. Other highlights from my favorite list include Shine by Lauren Myracle and Sister Mischief by Laura Goode.
I’d love to know your picks for any of these awards! Please feel free to share in the comments!