Saturday, November 15, 2014

Our Caldecott Club Winners So Far....

We've been holding monthly meetings of our 2015 Caldecott Club, which I dub our "family book club," at my library since July. Since July, we've read and discussed 20 or so books that are eligible for the 2015 Caldecott Medal and -- in my opinion -- good possibilities for winning the top award or a Caldecott Honor.

Each month, we vote for our top winner out of the 4-5 books we read, and now we have a list of 5 finalists: Froodle, written and illustrated by Antoinette Portis; Bad Bye, Good Bye, written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Jonathan Bean; Quest, written and illustrated by Aaron Becker; The Iridescence of Birds, written by Patricia MacLachlan and illustrated by Hadley Hooper; and Sam & Dave Dig a Hole, written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen. After we choose our December and January winners, then we'll take the finalists from each month, July through January, and vote for our Caldecott Club Medal winner, and any Honor books.

Of course, our Caldecott Club isn't really a true Mock Caldecott (now there's a funny turn of phrase -- a "true mock"...). We've developed simplified "kid-friendly" Caldecott criteria, and we have kids as young as three years old discussing the books and then voting on them.

Because we have such young children participating, we also can't discuss some of the longer and/or meatier possibilities, although I have tried to at least briefly mention books like Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker, written by Patricia Hruby Powell and illustrated by Christian Robinson and Grandfather Gandhi, written by Bethany Hegedus and illustrated by Evan Turk.

Which books win as our finalists also depend on what books they're "competing" against, of course. For example, The Iridescence of Birds won over Viva Frida, written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales, Draw!, written and illustrated by Raul Colon, and Josephine. (To be fair, we just breezed through the illustrations in Josephine, which was for an older age group than most of the young participants in our Caldecott Club that night.)

This month, Sam & Dave Dig a Hole was a clear winner, besting Where's Mommy?, written by Beverly Donofrio and illustrated by Barbara McClintock, The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade, written by Justin Roberts and illustrated by Christian Robinson, and The Troublemaker, written and illustrated by Lauren Castillo.

 If a Caldecott winner can be judged by the amount of audience participation and reaction as it's being read, then Sam & Dave Dig a Hole could be a shoo-in. The kids at our Caldecott Club were practically shouting at Sam and Dave to change digging directions as we read the book together via our ELMO document camera and the big screen (great for groups like this, as everyone can really see the illustrations).

Best of all, we're all going to get to see Jon Klassen in person on Sunday, Nov. 23, at 1 p.m. My library, the Takoma Park Maryland Library, serves as an alternate venue for Politics & Prose Bookstore, which allows us to host top name children's authors like Jon Klassen. On Nov. 23, Jon will actually be reading and discussing Sam & Dave Dig a Hole in our library's Children's Room -- we can't wait! If you live near the Washington, D.C. area, please join us for this extra-special event. Politics & Prose Bookstore will be selling Jon's books, but no purchase is required for this free program.

End Notes: Thanks to Dave Burbank, my library colleague who runs the Caldecott Club with me, and does an amazing job both reading our books aloud and managing the ELMO so we can really appreciate the details in the illustrations. And thanks to all the great Caldecott Club members who make it so fun!

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