by Sam Juliano
For the final post in my long-running Caldecott Medal contender series I will provide the covers of five final books that must surely be considered in the running. At least two of these five (the magnificent The Mighty Lalouche and Water in the Park) are among my favorite children’s books of the year, so the failure to write about them really has nothing at all to do their exceeding beauty and quality, but far more to do with the fact that I have run out of time. As it is I was forced to go into overdrive over the last few days to cram in all the worthy titles, but the downside of that frantic activity was to leave all the readers, over-saturated because of the multiple posts and multiple titles on some of those posts. I really should have begun the series earlier, but perhaps some of the readership to this point have seen what they need to see. Ha! I want to thank all those who took a look at the posts and especially those who took the time to leave comments. Laurie Buchanan of Crystal Lake, Illinois has been a miracle for the series, though this very dear friend has been an inspiration to all of us in more ways than one. Her appearance at all the posts were motivational and fabulously constructive, and the corresponding tags on Facebook showed yet again the extent that this amazing lady will go to when she believes in something. I am frankly overwhelmed by what she has accomplished here. A great big thank you as well to my very good friend and colleague Frank Gallo, the great writer and good friend John Grant (Paul Barnett), my site friend the consummate gentleman and scholar Jim Clark, the incomparable Pierre de Plume, the wonderful “find along the way” librarian Celeste Fenster, my long time friend and book lover Tim McCoy, the stupendous Peter M., my fabulous friend from the U.K. the wonderful Judy Geater, and of course that Australian soul-mate Tony d’Ambra who has done nothing but offer encouragement, physical assistance and incalculable support, and all others who added to the conversations. It was a special thrill to hear from a number of the authors and illustrators who either commented on these pages or on Facebook and comment threads at the Horn Book. I thank you Carin Berger (Stardines), Aaron Becker (Journey), Jennifer Berne (On A Beam of Light), Bob Staake (Bluebird) Bob Shea Unicorn) and Yuyi Morales (Nino Wrestles the World) for bringing a huge smile to my face with your appreciative acknowledgements.
It was admittedly a daunting proposition, and it had me running around to libraries, and ordering books on-line, not to mention the voting that was conducted in classes after months of reading. I do regret not getting to the Newbery contenders, but such a proposition would require far more time. As it is I do plan on look at these at a relaxing pace over the coming months and will definitely come back here with a few reviews.
Finally, I will post my final Caldecott and Newbery predictions up on tomorrow morning’s Monday Morning Diary. The American Library Association will be announcing sometime mid-morning or early afternoon. I will be talking about those announcements soon enough.
In any case as I promised, I would display the covers of the five books that are Jim-dandy. The first two (my own personal favorites of this group-and two of my favorites of the year, period) are shown above, the other three appear below. It is to be noted that my classes voted the third book shown here (Mo Willems’ That is Not A Very Good Idea as their favorite book of the entire 50 book lot of Caldecott contenders. Their #2 favorite by the way is Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great. Utilizing silent film-style dialogue inter titles, That is Not A Very Good Idea is a complete hoot and one of the funniest and most enjoyable picture books of the year. I strongly urge those interested to check out the books on this post, especially The Mighty Lalouche, Water in the Park and That is Not a Good Idea. The other two, Moonday and The Day the Crayons Quit are also wonderful. I have just now added a page photo of each of the books to follow the covers below.
I would do this again in a heartbeat God-willing, and plan to examine four or five of some spectacular non-American picture book that were released this year in the upcoming weeks. As a final note, I’d like to add that there were other very fine books, a few of which have been touted by some as worthy Caldecott Contenders. I am not the biggest fan of Have You Seen My Blue Socks, but many think it may win a Caldecott Honor. A few other worthy titles that have supports, some from my own students are:
Odd Duck (Castellucci and Varon)
Crankenstein (Samantha Berger)
Mousetronaut Goes To Mars (Kelly)
Chu’s Day (Rex)
Queen of the Falls (Van Allsburg)
Boxers and Saints (Yang)
Frog Song (Spirin)
God Got A Dog (Rylant/Frazee)
If You Want to See A Whale (Fogliano/Stead)
Pug and Other Animal Poems (Worth/Jenkins)
This is the Rope (Woodson/Ranson)
Round is a Tortilla: A Book of Shapes (Thong/Parra)
How To Train A Train (Eaton/Rocco)
Brave Girl (Markel/Sweet)
When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky (Stringer)
Fog Island (Ungerer)
Mandela (Kadir Nelson)
These are all wonderful books. Of course in this 19 post series I posted all the front runners in individual pieces that can be accessed by the tags.
Added page photos from THE MIGHTY LALOUCHE and WATER IN THE PARK:
I have added a few you tubes to lead off the comment section.