It's award season again! And in the Children's Department that means we're looking forward to the upcoming ALA Youth Media Awards. On Monday the 2014 winners of the Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, and Coretta Scott King Book Awards will be announced honoring the most distinguished books published in 2013. In particular, the Caldecott is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children to the artist of the most outstanding American picture book for children. For the second year in a row we put together what we've deemed the CaldecartTM, a library cart full of picture books published last year. For the first Caldecart we looked at around 30 books. This year we went crazy with 66 to peruse and evaluate!
Kids love trains! Our ever popular train table was greatly missed when it needed repairs earlier this year. And at the reference desk it's a rare day when we don't get a request for books and movies about trains. Luckily, this year there have been several excellent new train books to recommend. The beautiful watercolor artwork in Brian Floca's Locomotive will take you straight back to 1846 and the dawn of the trans-continental railroad. And if you want still more trains, Elisha Cooper's Train follows a red striped commuter train from Grand Central Station all the way to the West coast. Or check out How to Train a Train, written by Jason Carter Eaton and illustrated by John Rocco, to learn where trains sleep and what they eat!
Like the train table, kids stream into the department to greet our frog Henri. So it's no wonder that Frog Song, written by Brenda Guiberson and illustrated by Gennady Spirin, and Ribbit, story by Rodrigo Folgeira with artwork by by Poly Bernatene, made their way onto our cart. Ribbit is a sweet story of friendship with illustrations full of texture and personality, don't miss the bulge-y frog eyes and stretchy pink tongues!
Two books on bullying are in the Caldecott conversation this year. Bluebird, a wordless book by Bob Staake is a reviewer favorite that relies on graphic illustrations in shades of blue and gray to tell the story of a lonely boy and the bluebird who befriends him. Bully by Laura Vaccaro Seeger cleverly follows a bull through his interactions with fellow farm animals. Watch for how Seeger uses scale and bold colors to emphasize the theme.
Several of us would love to see Jonathan Bean's Building Our House come away with a win. Lisa writes that the book is "a great depiction of the teamwork it takes to build a house." The softly colored, yet deliberately drawn, illustrations are full of repeating details (find the cat!) that kids will enjoying follow through the story. Don't miss the author's note and personal photos at the end of the book.
My personal vote goes to Journey, Aaron Becker's beautiful story of imagination and friendship. Becker's use of white space and transition from a limited color palette to rich swaths of green and purple with pointed accents of red demonstrates that words aren't always necessary. Similarly, the illustrations shine in The Mighty Lalouche, written by Matthew Olshan and illustrated by Sophie Blackwell. It's a classic underdog tale about a French postman forced into a boxing career to support himself and his pet bird Genevieve. Blackwell employs a unique mixed media approach, layering illustrations and using cut-outs, to create a sense of depth and movement.
Two more picture books we enjoyed this year focus on the writing process. The protagonists of Ike's Incredible Ink by Brianne Farley and Little Red Writing by Joan Holub with art by Melissa Sweet, want to write stories. Ike finds his voice after a bout of procrastination, while Little Red has a fractured fairy tale adventure, learning about storytelling along the way. Like Sophie Blackwell, Melissa Sweet's lovely illustrations in Little Red Writing rely on rich layers of pencil, watercolor and collage. For the text, Sweet uses a variety of typefaces and handwriting styles to evoke emotion and differentiate character voices.
Books by Mo Willems are always popular with our staff and patrons, and Willems has another winner this year in That is NOT a Good Idea! The illustrations pay homage to silent movies in a style that perfectly suits the suspenseful and funny (it's Mo Willems after all!) story. Like, That is NOT a Good Idea!, Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci and Sara Varon, is very distinct visually. Told through a graphic novel format, complete with panels and speech bubbles, Odd Duck stars two quirky ducks learning to accept their own, and each other's, differences.
Peter Brown won a Caldecott Honor last year for his illustrations in Creepy Carrots, can he repeat and win the big one this year? Christina thinks so, her pick is Brown's Mr. Tiger Goes Wild. Keep an eye on Mr. Tiger's face as he decides to stop conforming, sheds his civilized suit and discovers his wild side. In this short and interesting behind the scenes video Brown grants viewers an inside look into his studio and creative process for Mr. Tiger. Christina was right on the money with last year's winner, John Klassen's This is Not My Hat, so we wouldn't be at all surprised if Mr. Tiger earns the Caldecott in 2014.
The winner of the Caldecott Award will be announced Monday, January 27th. Celebrate the winner and past Caldecott honorees with Lisa at our Gold Medal Books Storytime and Apps program Monday evening from 7-7:45 p.m.