I just got back from my library system’s Mock Caldecott awards. What are you reading? What did you pick? Here are our nominees:
The greatest fight in history happens here. I needed to take breaks the first time I read this book, because I was laughing too hard to keep reading it to my own 5-year-old. Rock may be the greatest champion since Russell Crowe picked up a sword in Gladiator. Adam Rex’s artwork is at once hilarious and stunning, with lots of motion and action. Rex can make a battle of rock, paper, scissors look like theatre. We had one interesting question come up in our discussion here: with all the different fonts, font sizes, and font directions, does this become part of the picture book art? We had some mixed emotions. All in all, an outright hilarious book that I can’t wait to bring out during storytime. The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors has five starred reviews and oodles of downloadable activities.
A wordless picture book that uses monochrome and color settings to tell its story, Little Fox in the Forest is the story of a young girl and her stuffed toy fox. The girl brings her toy to school, where it’s stolen by a real fox, who jumps out of the woods and grabs it. The girl follows the fox back to its home, where the spreads go from bluish-gray/white to a vibrant color palette. The girl and fox reach an understanding. The endpapers lead readers into the story and provide a nice epilogue at the end. I enjoyed the book, but this one wasn’t my favorite. My group had mixed feelings on this one, too; two of my group weren’t big fans of wordless picture books; I liked the use of panels and loved the endpapers and color work, but overall, there were books I enjoyed more. Little Fox in the Forest has four starred reviews.
Thiiiis is the book my friends and I were pulling for! I love the evolution of the artwork; how a seeming mistake can unfold into a story. It’s quirky, fun, and unexpected, with a stark white page serving as the backdrop. I love these kind of books; books that just take the way you see things and very sweetly flip the book on its head. It’s an inspiring story for kids: don’t think of mistakes as something embarrassing or bad; they’re all – we’re all – just a work in progress. The Book of Mistakes has three starred reviews.
Beautifully illustrated biography of legendary Jazz and Blues musician Muddy Waters. The artwork reminds me a bit of 2016’s Caldecott medalist, Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat; there’s some amazing urban-infused artwork here, not to mention brilliant colors and bold lines. You can feel the rhythm thrumming through the pages. I loved Evan Turk’s collage and mixed media work. This one got high praise from my group. Author Michael Mahin has some powerful words about his book, multiculturalism, and racism, which you can read here.
Let it be noted right now: I will gush about anything Kadir Nelson illustrates. I would brush with one particular brand of toothpaste if he did the box art. He has a way of bringing pictures to breathtaking life. Going into this panel, Blue Sky White Stars was more or less my go-to pick for the winner, because it’s Nelson. A tribute to the American spirit, Blue Sky introduces readers to the American landscape; touches of Americana from our history, including the Statue of Liberty, Betsy Ross, and our flag; and the people of America, with words to tie each spread together. A spread of African American and white freedom walkers march, holding the flag, with the words, “woven together” titling the spread. Each spread uses phrasing that ties the pictures together, and while I admit one or two are were a stretch, it’s a love letter to what exactly makes America great, no red caps necessary. Blue Sky White Stars has four starred reviews.
Last year, I went into the library’s Mock Caldecotts pushing HARD for The Fan Brothers book, The Night Gardener (They All Saw a Cat won, which I was mollified by). I love their artwork – it’s always an exploration, with new things to find, nuances to discover. The Antlered Ship is filled with moments both fantastic and fun as we follow a fox on his quest to find a friend. Map endpapers let readers know we’re going on a trip. The rogue’s gallery of animal pirates will get a rise out of readers – who doesn’t love a pirate’s tale? – and the spread illustrating the confrontation between ships is amazing. Everyone in my group enjoyed this one, too. Oddly, this one received a lot of votes from our groups, but not enough to make it their number one choice.
The votes were collected and tallied, and the winners were…
QUEENS LIBRARY MOCK CALDECOTT 2017 MEDAL
Next question – has anyone done a Mock Caldecott with the kids in your library? I’m wondering if this would be good for my school-age kiddos. I’d love to hear about any experiences, please comment, post blog links, anything you want to share.