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?