• Grace McKinney

Over on Calling Caldecott...

Each year for the past five years or so on the Horn Book's blog Calling Caldecott, a group of bloggers, editors, and guests write up their thoughts on potential contenders for the Caldecott Award. The Caldecott Award is given each year "to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children published by an American publisher in the United States in English during the preceding year," per the terms provided by ALSC. The discussion this year has been particularly exciting to follow—there are so many beautiful books being made, and I'll be eager to see what the committee decorates in January.

I'm particularly tickled to share that I wrote a bit on Christy Hale's marvelous Water Land: Land and Water Forms from Around the World. It's a joy to read and a joy to write about, so hop on over to the Horn Book website to take a peek at that one and other posts for contenders for the 2019 award.

Below you'll find a list of some of our other favorites, though the pile of books to be read still remains tall:

Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall

This one has been a favorite of Gaby's and mine since it appeared in the spring of 2018. It's striking in its narrow trim size at first, but then absolutely lush from the very first endpaper to the end. Blackall's work here is meticulous, thematic, and just plain breathtaking. Not only is it a beauty, it has performed (quite honestly, to my initial surprise) quite well as a read aloud. The recurring echo, "Hello... Hello... Hello, Lighthouse!" will get little voices chiming in. Also, I'm a sucker for a jacket reveal, and this one does not disappoint.

Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal

Simple, soft, and thoughtful, Alma's muted and limited color palette draws attention to what makes Alma's name so very special: the family members who had those names before her. Martinez-Neal is particularly creative with the handwritten text that distinguishes Alma's involvement in the narrative as well as the distinct personalities of her ancestors, and she deftly manages to capture emotional, familial connections in each scene.

The Stuff of Stars by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Ekua Holmes

I don't know how Holmes did what she did here, but my goodness did she do it. Each page is a galaxy in itself, carrying the equally gorgeous text of Bauer's poem. The illustrations create a sense of perpetual movement through the cosmos while inviting the reader to seek out the figures ever-so-slightly hidden in the splashes of paint. Bold and awe-inspiring, Holmes's latest does not disappoint.

A House That Once Was by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Lane Smith

This somewhat surprising author-illustrator pairing resulted in an ethereal visual experience as two children explore an abandoned house, imagining what could have gone on there before they arrived. There's much to be spotted in the details on each spread, and all the more attention should be given to the way Smith differentiates between past and present I find myself returning to this one mostly for Fogliano's text, but Smith's work here is, in truth, striking.

Drawn Together by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat

We've already offered a review of this one here, so this is just a friendly reminder. What strikes me in this one is Santat's ability to render two distinct illustrative styles in one book, as if they've, in truth, been penned by different people. It's a feast for the eyes from beginning to end. Oh, and remember what I said about being a sucker for jacket reveals? Goosebumps.

Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have A Horse by Marcy Campbell, illustrated by Corinna Luyken

Luyken's delicate hand with bushes, trees, flowers, and weeds create a rich and almost magical setting for Campbell's narrative. Darkness and lightness follow the emotional palette of the girl who decries Adrian's claim to have a horse and Adrian himself, a dreamer who defends his claim. Adrian's horse is there, though, with Luyken's aid, for those who are willing to see it.

What's cropping up in your Caldecott discussions?


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