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The Art of Story

By Linda Hoffman Kimball














On Monday, Jan. 23, 2012 at 7:45 a.m. the eyes and ears of many in the world of children’s literature will be on Dallas. That’s where and when the Association for Library Service to Children (a division of the American Library Association) will announce the winner of the 2012 Randolph Caldecott Award. The award, named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott, is awarded annually “to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.”

Figuring out what makes “the most distinguished” illustrated book for kids is an arduous task performed by a 15 person committee of librarians selected by the ALA and intentionally diverse. For the generally subdued subset of humanity that children’s librarians constitute, there can apparently be very heated exchanges during the process and snarky controversy after the fact.  I’m not wild about every selection. I guess it’s a case of “beauty is in the eye of the book-holder.”

As an artist and a writer, I love picture books. Some women like jewelry. I would rather have new beautiful picture books.

As a mom I love them, too, and made good use of them when my kids were young back in the ‘hood (Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, that is). We had a nightly routine of huddling together and reading one picture book and one scripture story, generally from a children’s scripture version. Once, when we read a kid-friendly version of the story of David and Bathsheba, my daughter interrupted and said, “I guess it’s like Mr. Rogers says: The very same people who are good sometimes are the very same people who are bad sometimes.”

Some of our family’s favorite picture books  include:

Brave Irene and Pete’s a Pizza by William Stieg

Mr. & Mrs. God in Creation’s Kitchen by Nancy Wood, illustrated by T. B. Ering

When the Relatives Came by C. Rylant, illustrated by S. Gammell

And, a more recent one, Pocketful of Posies by Salley Mavor

I’m eager to see what the 2012 Caldecott judges pick. Some of the books getting a lot of 2012 Caldecott buzz are:

Grandpa Green by Lane Smith

Blackout by John Rocco

Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell

I Want My Hat Back by J. Klassen

Brother Sun, Sister Moon by Katherine Paterson

Heart and Soul by Kadir Nelson

Press Here by Herve Tullet

Blue Chicken by Deborah Freedman


I guess I’ll just be nibbling my nails until Monday morning.

In the meantime, distract me from my Caldecott angst. What are your predictions for the Caldecott? Do you have strong opinions about any of the ones mentioned above? What are some of your favorite picture books – even if they’re not award winners?  What about books that your kids love but you don’t? How would you define “most distinguished American picture book”? How do you incorporate reading into your children’s lives?


About Linda Hoffman Kimball

Linda Hoffman Kimball is an artist, writer, photographer, and poet who grew up as a faithful Christian near Chicago, & joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1971 while at Wellesley College near Boston. Early on she assumed that all Latter-day Saints were articulate, inquisitive, faithful, and socially engaged since her role models in the University wards in Cambridge, MA., were. Her husband says she is “fluent, but not native” in Mormon-ese. She is a founding member of Mormon Women for Ethical Government.

13 thoughts on “The Art of Story”

  1. I was recently blown away by "The Red Book" by Barbara Lehman. It was a Caldecott Honor book, but I really feel like it should have won something. Thanks for sharing the list of notable books–I am going to go check them out!

  2. Favorite thing I've read today…

    "Some women like jewelry. I woud rather have beautiful new picture books!"

    We should be friends!

  3. Not so long ago, I read all the Caldecott winners, taking notes on each. I still love Make Way for Ducklings best…so much so that when in Boston, we had to stop at the Public Gardens!

  4. Now, I haven't read all of this years selections, but I must put in a good word for Press Here- it is clever, and both of my kids (3 & 7) adored it.

    I love good books for the kids, and I love watching them enjoy good books, we are swimming in them. Teaching them a love of reading was one of my higher priorities and when I find them curled in bed with a stack of books, I beam.

    Thanks for your list of favorites- I can't wait to hit the library and check some out this week.

  5. When our son brought home Jumanji from the school library, (he's 35 now…) I didn't know anything about this book. IT WAS FANTASTIC! We were all so spooked as we sat on the couch reading it! No movie could ever do it justice. I still cannot read Sylvester and the Magic Pebble without getting teary. As a child, I devoured the d'Aulaires' Abraham Lincoln. I sitll love it. And now that I've had the opportunity to criss-cross the USA so many times, I love Grandfather's Journey even more.

  6. I fell in love again with picture books when I took "Reading for Elementary Teachers." Now I have little nieces and great nephews who are exposed to a lot more variety than I was as a child. Nothing wrong with Dr. Seuss though or the Bernstein Bears, which were the main fodder of my youth. I can remember my mom reading, "Drip, Drop, Drip, Drop." My favorite in first grade was this serious about a bear names Frances who liked to jump rope and eat jam. 🙂

  7. Somebody gave me Slyvester and the Magic Pebble for a book shower, and it immediately transported me to Kindergarten, sitting wide eyed on my circle, listening to a poor donkey whose parents don't even know that they are SITTING RIGHT ON TOP OF HIM! I had forgotten all about the book until I saw it again, and my kids loved it just as much as I did.

    I also loved Bluberries for Sal, and was so tickled when we went to Maine and picked wild blueberries. It made me sad my husband had no idea what I was talking about when I said, "I feel like Sal!"

    Francis was/is also a favorite. Also, I have a distinct memory of the book "Liza Lou and the yellow bellow swamp", or at least I think that's what it's called. I haven't been able to find it though. I guess I have to look harder :).

  8. This just in! The 2012 Caldecott Award winner is Chris Raschka's "A Ball for Daisy" with Caldecott Honor Awards going to "Blackout" by John Rocco and Grandpa Green by Lane Smith.

    You can read about all the 2012 ALA awards here:http://bit.ly/zotdpE

  9. My Kindergarten age son ran in on Monday with the excitement that only a book loving 6 year old can, "One of my authors just won the Gold Medal!" isn't that COOL? (his teacher has an author/illustrator of the month and Chris Raschka was December's pick!) I love the ownership entailed in "one of MY authors!"

  10. I'm so glad one of "his" authors won! "A Ball for Daisy" by Chris Raschka is quite a charming book. I personally think it's a wonderful little masterpiece – but the "most distinguished picture book"? Hmmm. To each his or her own, I guess.


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