Monday, January 13, 2014

That's So Medal: Mock Caldecott

Every winter my library hosts a Mock Caldecott Election as a passive program. Throughout the year, the staff keep their eyes peeled for Caldecott contenders. Shortly before the elections, a meeting is held where we narrow down and vote on our choices and then create a ballot for the public. We order/ILL 2 copies of each selection that patrons can browse through in order to help them vote. At the end of the voting period (which is about 2 weeks), we tally up the votes and announce the winners on our library's website. There is a possible 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place instead of winners and honor books.

Here are this years' nominees (my particular picks are in bold):

1. Cub's Big World by Sarah L. Thompson, ill. by Joe Cepeda

2. The Dark by Lemony Snicket, ill. by Jon Klassen

This was one of my picks. I have been a fan of Jon Klassen's artistic style since I first saw I Want My Hat Back. Then I was fortunate enough to hear him give his Caldecott acceptance speech at ALA Annual in Chicago last year. To hear him talk about the thought and intent that goes into each page he illustrates was truly amazing.

I'm always impresses when an artist has the ability to create the illusion of light. Klassen's work is no exception. He skillfully uses gouache to create a contrast between the light and "the dark" (which the main character Lazlo is so afraid of). As Lazlo uses the mere beam of a flashlight to creep closer and closer to the darkness it creates a sense of tension. It feels much like a film where the characters stumble through the dark with the uncertainty that something is lurking around the corner. 

3. A Funny Little Bird by Jennifer Yerkes

4. How to Train a Train by Jason Carter Eaton, ill. by John Rocco

5. Journey by Aaron Becker

6. Locomotive by Brian Floca

7. The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman, ill. by Bagram Ibatoulline

8. Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild is probably one of my favorites. I had learned somewhere down the line of my librarian training that a truly great picture book is one where the illustrations tell the story and can stand on their own. 

Done with a digital combination of India ink, watercolor, gouache, and pencil this is a lovely little story about a tiger learning to break free from the constraints of society in order to be his wild old self.

I love that the end papers at the beginning of the book are brick and at the end are leaves which lends to Mr. Tiger's transition into "going wild". Throughout the book, there's lots of white space on the page so that they never feel too crowded and it's easy for the eye to focus. I also love how the color palette transitions from the more grays and browns in town to richer greens and blues in the wilderness.  And Mr. Tiger himself is always a pop of orange on the page to allow him to stand out as well as create a sense of individuality. I'm not-so secretly rooting for this one to win the real Caldecott!

9. Mr. Wuffles by David Wiesner

This was another one of my picks. I am such a sucker for wordless picture books. I love that they inspire dialogic reading skills and using the imagination. Truthfully, I didn't discover David Wiesner's work until I was tasked to read a wordless picture book in library school and chose Flotsam

Using watercolor and India ink, Mr. Wuffles tells the story of a cat who discovers a toy that really isn't a toy at all: it's an alien spaceship! So the aliens must use their resourcefulness to outwit the cat and get back home. 

There's a wealth of detail on each page. The book begs to be looked at over and over again to discover something new each time. For me,the mark of a good book is one that allows you to immerse yourself in it and find something different with each reading. Even though they never utter a word other than in their native language, the aliens themselves are wonderfully expressive. They go through a range of emotions from frightened to triumphant. 

10. Red Knit Cap Girl to the Rescue by Naoko Stoop

11. That is NOT a Good Idea! by Mo Willems

12. The Tortoise and the Hare by Jerry Pinkney

13. Xander's Panda Party by Linda Sue Park, ill. by Matt Phelan

I'll post the winners after the voting ends on January 18th!

What are your picks this year? Do you host a Mock Caldecott program at your library? How is your program similar/different?

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