Annually since 1938, the American Library Association has awarded the Caldecott Medal to the most distinguished American picture book for children in English published during the preceding year.
The winner is chosen by 15 library professionals who meet to select a single notable picture book based on the quality of artwork.
Announcements of the award are made in January by the American Library Association at an event that, for a youth librarian, is a little like the Oscars.
Below are a few of my personal favorite contenders for the 2013 award.
“That is NOT a Good Idea!”
Picture book author and illustrator Mo Willems breaks new ground again with his homage to silent films and a different twist on the story of a dastardly fox and an innocent goose. Although the Caldecott is not given for its popularity or “read aloud-ability,” this one scores high on both counts.
What do you get when Caldecott-award winning Jon Klassen and storyteller Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler) combine forces to tell a story about being afraid of the dark? A spookily beautiful book, full of subtle illustrations conveying the power of the dark. Klassen won last year, and it would be out of the ordinary if he won two years in a row, but this book is a stunner nonetheless.
Floca’s newest nonfiction picture book about the locomotive is a delight to explore. Artwork explodes in muted yellows and browns of the American West. Text leaps off the page as part of the art, conveying the “huff, huff, huff” and “clang-clang” of the locomotive. Floca’s research is evident in the level of detail included in each scene, from intricate locomotive details to a tiny picture of a railcar hobo motioning to a cat. Spectacular.
Mr. Tiger doesn’t fit in. He is the sole speck of color (literally) in a grim, tight-laced Victorian world. As Mr. Tiger begins to “go wild” and shrug off the conventions of his world, more of the illustrations are in color. The de-evolution of Mr. Tiger into a wild animal and the gradual introduction of color into the book is striking and unique … just like Mr. Tiger.
Nancy Carpenter’s charming illustrations breathe life into a McCloskey-esque true tale of a small-town duckling rescue. The story is told from a variety of viewpoints, and the illustrations, which focus on the action and spread effectively across the page, draw the reader in.
In this magical wordless picture book a lonely girl draws a door on her bedroom wall and finds herself in another world. Simple. Beautiful. And simply beautiful.