RI Mock Caldecott Award

I had a great time talking about children's books with a group of Rhode Island librarians this week at a Professional Development Workshop where we discussed and voted for the Mock Caldecott Award for 2012. The event was held at the stately William  Hall library on Broad Street in Cranston.

The Caldecott Medal has been given annually since 1938 by the Association for Library Service to Children (a division of the American Library Association) to

the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.

The real Caldecott Medal will be announced in Dallas at 7:45 a.m. CT on Jan.23, 2012, along with announcements for the Newbery Medal, the Coretta Scott King Book Award and Printz award. The books honored serve as a guide for parents, educators, and librarians. The awards are selected under a cloak of secrecy by national judging committees composed of librarians and other children’s literature experts.

Since I was giving a Powerpoint presentation about children's book design at the workshop, I delved into the criteria for this particular award. Here is my version of the criteria, condensed and simplified:

What is a "Picture book for children?"

• Children up to age 14 are an intended potential audience,

• The book displays respect for their understandings, abilities, and appreciations.

• The book provides the child with a visual experience

• It develops a collective unity of story-line, theme, or concept through...pictures.

Criteria to consider:

Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept;

Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures;

Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed;

Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept;

Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.

What makes a picture book “distinguished?”

Marked by eminence and distinction, excellence in quality.

Noted for significant achievement.

Individually distinct.

If you want to see the criteria in it's original form, along with all the Caldecott award and Honor Books for the past 75 years,

click here for the ALSC site.

A tiny sample of the books that won the Caldecott in earlier years:

2010: The Lion & the Mouse

by Jerry Pinkney (Little, Brown & Company)

1963: The Snowy Day

by Ezra Jack Keats (Viking)

1943: The Little House

by Virginia Lee Burton (Houghton)


With the wealth of incredible artists who create stunning visual experiences for children, and stories and characters that ranged from hilarious to profound, the choosing wasn't easy. We started with 30 titles, and voted a bit hurriedly at the end, but these were the picks for this year's Caldecott from a small group of RI librarians and illustrators.

WINNER: Grandpa Green, by Lane Smith.

To read more about the making of Grandpa Green, you'll find a wonderful article and extensive photos on Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. This, by the way, is a site that children's book enthusiasts could study for weeks on end, it has such a wealth of information. To access the Lane Smith article, click here:

feature about Lane Smith and Grandpa Green

HONOR BOOK: Me... Jane, by Patrick McDonnell

This beautifully designed book tells of Jane Goodall's childhood dreams, complete with  photographs and excepts from a diary she kept.

Me... Jane, by Patrick McDonnell

HONOR BOOK: Blackout, by John Rocco

This is the story of city folks who come out of their apartments when the lights go out in New York City. With a hybrid graphic novel/picture book look, the story is essentially one of family and community.


Blackout, by John Rocco

 Here is a trailer about "Blackout."

There are so many wonderful books to choose from. Go check out a few of them on your own!

Thanks to Cheryl Space for putting together such a great event, to Wendy and Walter for coming, and to all the book-loving and insightful librarians for a fun morning.

It will be interesting to see who wins on January 23.