My Caldecott Ramblings: Or, What I Would Add
to Betsy Bird’s List and How I Can Really Get
Behind Most of the Titles on Her List Anyway

h1 September 19th, 2010 by jules

“Sandy’s tail got longer until Gregory saw a tiny ghost crab scurry sideways into his dark, round hole. Gregory went round and round the hole. Sandy’s tail went round and round, too. But Gregory did not go into the water, and he did not leave Sandy.”

“Uncle Nigel stopped in his tracks. ‘I say! Footprints! That’s ace, lad!
The footprints of the Zimbobo Mountain Gorilla!'”

The above illustrations come from Karen Lynn William’s A Beach Tail (Boyds Mill Press, February 2010), illustrated by Floyd Cooper, and Elise Broach’s Gumption (Atheneum, April 2010), illustrated by Richard Egielski. More on those at the bottom of this post. (I know, I know. Long shots for a Caldecott, but, well…just humor me and keep reading.)

It is not possible for me to keep from responding to—or, in all actuality, adding to—Betsy Bird’s post from last week about Caldecott 2011 predictions. Her post addressed Newbery predictions as well, but for different reasons I’ve been focused for the past couple years on only picture books and illustration (occasionally, illustrated novels) here at 7-Imp.

And I say that I’ll be adding to Betsy’s list, because I love her choices thus far, and I can get behind most of them. They include some (but not all) of the below titles; for most of these, I’ve done posts here in 2010 (which I will point out below, in case you want to head to those posts to see even more art). And, again, I’m also going to throw in—at the bottom—what I would add to the list. Here we go.

The Long-Shots-But-I-Root-Enthusiastically-for-Them Category

(An early spread from The Boys)

My February 2010 interview with author/illustrator Jeff Newman is here.

“Amos had a lot to do at the zoo, but he always made time to visit his good friends.”
(Click image to enlarge.)

Erin Stead shared some art and early sketches with me here in 2009 and again in June of this year. The book’s author, Philip C. Stead, visited in ’09, too.

My Bink & Gollie post from early September is here.

The Oh-Right!-Shoot!-They’re-Canadians-Someone-Go-Get-Me-Some-Tissues-(No-Offense-to-Canada-I’m-Sure-It’s-a-Lovely-Place) Category

“Pretending you’re invisible quiet / Lollipop quiet”
(Click to enlarge spread.)

Not eligible. NOT ELIGIBLE, I say. Drat. This is probably my favorite picture book of all 2010 thus far. My post on it is here.

Ditto. Grrr. Such a great book. Not eligible. My post on it is here.

The Please-Tell-Me-She’s-a-U.S.-Citizen Category

I dunno. In my 2008 interview with Suzy Lee, she was living in Singapore — yet once lived in Houston, Texas. Is she a U.S. citizen? Oh well, I know a book like this would be a serious, serious long-shot for a Caldecott. It might also be a love-it or hate-it kind of title, but place me squarely in the love camp, please. Technically, it’s also copyright 2003, even though the U.S. Edition came out this year. Who knows how that all works. Tremendous long-shot anyway, as I said, but I’m a big fan of her books.

My post on Mirror is here.

Also worth noting is that a review copy of this is on its way to me, to which I give a loud, resounding WOOT! Make that a YEE-HAW, since I’m a Southerner:

The It’s-Brand-New-and-Not-Yet-Covered-at-7-Imp-But-So-Perfect Category

More on this soon, I hope. This is an October release. Stunning. Clever. Pretty much flawless. It’s Wiesner. Are you surprised?

An August release. Both Matt and Jeanne will be visiting 7-Imp soon to talk about this one. Just beautiful is what it is.

The Betsy-Mentions-These-But-I’d-Be-Surprised-If-They-Won-Even-Though-I-Like-Them-Too-Plus-What-Do-I-Really-Know-Anyway? Category

“The mayor could see the Garbage Barge way off on the horizon. News of the wandering garbage had already reached him. ‘We’ve got enough of our own trash,’ he told his staff. ‘Call the coast guard!'”
(Click to enlarge spread.)

My March post on Here Comes the Garbage Barge is here.

“Who plucks raspberries and plops red scat in the tangle?
Blissful moon bear, feasting on juicy summer fruit.”
(Click to enlarge spread.)

My July Moon Bear post is here.

(Click to enlarge.)

My post on Dust Devil with lots of art? Come back tomorrow.

The It’s-a-Straight-Up-Sin-I-Haven’t-Read-It-Yet Category

Betsy mentions this book…

…which I posted about here in June, admitting back then that I hadn’t read a copy yet, but that I still wanted to post about it, since I’m a Dan-Santat fan somethin’ fierce. Have I seen a copy yet? I STILL HAVE NOT. This is a travesty. But I will remedy that.

(Click to enlarge image.)

I’ve had a doozy of a time trying to get this from my library. I need to request a review copy already:

Betsy mentions this, which I hadn’t even heard of. Came out just this month. MUST SEE. I love Collier’s work:

I also hear great things about Eric Rohmann’s new Last Song (picture book adaptation of James Guthrie’s old Scottish poem) — from folks, that is, whose picture-book tastes I find impeccable (including, but not limited to, Adrienne Furness). A review copy is on its way to me. And it’s ERIC ROHMANN, whose illustrations please me. Always.

The What-Else-Betsy-Mentions-That-I-Could-Get-Behind Category

Please click to enlarge. You’ll only be treating yourself.

My April interview with Joyce Sidman—which includes more Ubiquitous art—is here.

If I’m lucky, Tad Hills will return my breakfast-interview questionnaire, and we’ll get to hear lots more from him. I love this book.

From the talented-in-seven-different-directions Jacqueline Woodson and illustrator Sophie Blackall. Not covered at 7-Imp yet. It’s in my pile. I keep meaning to contact Sophie about sharing some art and possibly early sketches from it.

The Allright-Already-FINALLY-We-Get-to-It-What-Would-I-Add-to-the-List Category

Well, again, Betsy did mighty well. Not surprisingly, since we seem to share similar taste when it comes to books, I agree with many of her choices. What would I add at this point, even if long shots?

So, the committee may not always go for humor, but this is superior picture-book-making is what it is. Lichtenheld’s art truly extends the text. I read it last week to a group of first-graders and was reminded of its tremendous Kid Power. They were absolutely glued to each and every page, and that’s saying a lot, since it’s full of tiny off-the-cuff jokes best suited for a lap-read. It’s a winner all-around.

My March post on Shark Vs. Train is here.

Miss Brooks Loves Books (And I Don’t): Ditto. Ditto. Ditto. To everything I said above. My May post on this book is here.

Haven’t covered City Dog, Country Frog at 7-Imp yet, but why not do it very quickly now? This book, as all the starred reviews have already stated, is subtle and witty and warm and poignant and smart. And there are moments in this title in which Muth’s art makes me simultaneously laugh as well as get all misty-eyed.

Or how about Carin Berger’s own tale of friendship and loss?

My May visit with Carin, in which she shared even more art, is here.

I think Bunny Days is another long-shot, but it’s still one of the most exciting books, in terms of artistry and palette, that I saw all year, and boy howdy and howdy boy do I think that Tao Nyeu is One to Watch. My April interview with her—with lots more Bunny Days art—is here:

Would I be surprised if this nonfiction title got an award or Honor? No, I would not. Julie Paschkis visited here in March to share some art from this one.

“I love to paint colorful pictures of every kind of caterpillar, cocoon, and summer bird. I keep a notebook filled with my paintings. I write down everything
the summer birds do.”

Also, in the way of nonfiction, Kadir Nelson’s illustrations for Donna Jo Napoli’s Mama Miti are breathtaking. As I mentioned in this August post, these are African textiles collaged with oil paintings, and it’s one of the most beautiful picture books I’ve seen all year. JAW-DROPPING beauty is what I mean. “Dazzling,” wrote The Washington Post.

“Wangari told women to plant murigono, whose branches make good stakes
for training yam vines…”

Is Interrupting Chicken going to get mentioned by the Caldecott committee? Perhaps not. But it’s another of my favorites from this year, and David Ezra Stein is one talented guy. I see in my 7-Imp crystal ball a Caldecott in this man’s future. I do. I say it now. For the record.

Here is my June post on this title.

“‘All right,’ said Papa. ‘I’ll read one of your favorites. And of course you are not going to interrupt the story tonight, are you?’ ‘Oh no, Papa! I’ll be good.'”
(Click to enlarge.)

Compared to some of the above heavy-hitters (and, quite likely, the Title That’s Going to Win That I Will Overlook Entirely), Karen Lynn Williams’ A Beach Tail may also be considered a long shot, but I adore it. I’ve been sitting on these spreads from it (below) for a while now, as I’m trying my darnedest to get illustrator Floyd Cooper to stop by for a breakfast chat. Wish me luck on that, ’cause I’d be thrilled if he visited the 7-Imp bungalow.

As Joanna Rudge Long reminded all of us in the July/August 2010 issue of The Horn Book, the Caldecott committee is not to weigh candidates’ previous books or start moanin’ about how so-and-so is so acclaimed that he or she simply deserves the award, based on a body of work. The award simply goes to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book of the year. Period. So, I can’t stand on the give-Floyd-Cooper-an-award-already argument, but I do love his work. And this one has been a quiet little gem of 2010 (early 2010, in fact — it came out in January).

Swish-swoosh Gregory came to the mound of an old castle washed smooth by the waves. He went up and over and down. So did Sandy’s tail. But Gregory did not go in the water, and he did not leave Sandy.”

He turned around to look for Dad. Uh-oh. What now?”

Swish-swoosh He went down into the giant hole and up again. Zag and then zig. He went around the horseshoe crab’s pointer. Uh-oh. Gregory looked down the beach. No Sandy. No Dad on the dolphin towel under the blue umbrella. But . . .”

And the underdog title? I say Gumption by Elise Broach and illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Richard Egielski. You never know. Another very long shot, given the super strong contenders above, but it’s good stuff.

Here’s one more spread to go along with the illustration from this title that opens this post:

That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.

P.S. Has anyone else done Caldecott predictions? Please do let me know if you have. Susan Kusel at Wizards Wireless posted this short list in late August. She mentions two titles not discussed in Betsy’s list. And that would be Erica Perl’s Dotty, illustrated by Julia Denos, who gets better with every book she does…

…and a book I haven’t read yet, Leda Schubert’s Feeding the Sheep, illustrated by Andrea U’Ren.

* * * * * * *

For the copyright notices attached to the spreads from these books, please see the post in which the art was originally posted.

However, the spreads from Dust Devil, A Beach Tail, Gumption, and Mama Miti appear in this post for the first time, so here’s the boring, but necessary, copyright info:

DUST DEVIL. Text copyright © 2010 by Anne Isaacs. Illustrations copyright © 2010 by Paul O. Zelinsky. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Schwartz & Wade, New York, NY.

A BEACH TAIL. Text copyright © 2010 by Karen Lynn Williams. Illustrations copyright © 2010 by Floyd Cooper. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Boyds Mill Press, Honesdale, Pennsylvania.

GUMPTION. Text copyright © 2010 by Elise Broach. Illustrations copyright © 2010 by Richard Egielski. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Atheneum, New York, NY.

MAMA MITI: WANGARI MAATHAI AND THE TREES OF KENYA. Text copyright © 2010 by Donna Jo Napoli. Illustrations copyright © 2010 by Kadir Nelson. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY.

16 comments to “My Caldecott Ramblings: Or, What I Would Add
to Betsy Bird’s List and How I Can Really Get
Behind Most of the Titles on Her List Anyway”

  1. Jules — thanks so much for either reminding us or letting us in on your picture book faves of the year so far. (I haven’t read through everything above yet, so off to the library and bookstore I-will-go.)

    But some I have seen and truly adore.

    The Quiet Book — is special in a way that is hard to put into words. The mood and art just feel so comforting and tender. Also, we writers have been told so often in the past 5+ years “Please, we don’t want any ‘quiet books’; so, for a Quiet Book to make it through and be wonderful and celebrated is just a great thing.


    Miss Brooks Loves Books (And I Don’t) — is just the perfect pairing of wry text with hilarious pictures. Made me laugh out loud. Such a fresh and winning book with a great message about honoring a child’s taste (and finding the right book.) I love Miss Brooks and her book. I really hope it gets some recognition.

  2. Would A.G.Ford’s Goal! not be considered a possibility?

  3. This is a brilliant posting! Thank you so much for the wonderful summary of so many of this year’s great picture books.

  4. So many amazing contenders! I’m leaning towards Jon J. Muth, Sophie Blackall, David Wiesner, and Bryan Collier. Love Bunny Days, too. But why has no one mentioned Marjorie Priceman’s work in Paris in the Spring with Picasso? She really captured the heart and soul of the early 20th century Parisian artists.

  5. Wow Jules what a pack of winners! I think Dotty is the only one I haven’t had my hands and heart on yet… I am rooting for Beach Tail, I think it’s Floyd Cooper’s best work so far, and I think people like Tao Nyeu and David Ezra Stein and Tom Lichtenheld and Julie Paschkis have more and (even) better work to come. Love Egielski so much though… let’s have him for an Honor.

    Get yourself a copy of Oh No! as soon as you can. Also look for the videos – Santat is SUCH a funny, brilliant guy.

  6. Thanks to everyone. I love that you all are joining in the conversation. Paula, yes, I need to see Oh No! posthaste.

    So, now we have a vote for Goal, which I covered here at 7-Imp in May, not to mention A. G. Ford had cyber-breakfast with me in June.

    “Magubani has the ball. He passes to Hassan. Hassan runs. I steal from Hassan and whoosh like the wind, glued to the ball. I dribble past him and—Goooooooal!
    (Click to enlarge spread.)

    And, yes, Jama, to Paris in the Spring with Picasso!

    Here is Jama’s post on it, everyone, and a chat with the author.

  7. […] Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast a blog about books « My Caldecott Ramblings: Or, What I Would Addto Betsy Bird’s List and How I Can Really GetBehin… […]

  8. This is so awesome and helpful and in-a-nutshell-y!
    Thank you SO much for taking the time to put it together.

    I completely agree with you on some of your additional picks: Shark vs. Train is AMAZING!
    I was wondering if you’d had the chance to pick up another couple of gems which are on my Top Faves list:

    1. It’s a Book by Lane Smith

    2. The Boss Baby by Marla Frazee

    3. Children Make Terrible Pets – Peter Brown

    4. Mostly Monsterly – Tammi Sauer and Scott Magoon

    4. (Shameless plug) Martha Doesn’t Share, the follow-up book to Martha Doesn’t Say Sorry by me and Bruce Whatley.

    Maybe these are too new-releas-y to have made your list, but they are definitely ones to watch, and new faves o’ mine!

    Thanks again for all the compiling and great taste!


  9. Sorry I’ve been so slow to respond, Samantha. The whole family’s been ill. Blech.

    Haven’t seen The Boss Baby yet. Need to fix that. Read a good review of it the other day, though.

    Thanks for your comment!

  10. Great list with lots of favorites and lots I still need to check out. Thank you!

  11. Okay, Jules, thank you! You’ve just given me my list of books to share when I start reading in a classroom again.

  12. Susan, I took many of these to my first-grader’s classroom to read a few weeks ago, and they LOVED them. Winners, each and every one.

  13. ARGH. So much art. Not enough time!!!!!!!

  14. […] I finally followed up on something I promised I’d try to do in my Caldecott-ramblings post, and that would be contact illustrator Sophie Blackall to see if she wanted to share some images […]

  15. […] a hug.” To that “rare marriage of words and pictures” comment, I say—well, I’ve already said—this one is a Caldecott-contender. In my book. In the Caldecott contest goin’ on in my […]

  16. […] thing,” writes Publishers Weekly.) I officially add this title—after-the-fact—to this post. Yes, I do. I might even knock one of those titles off the list to make way for Clever […]

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