We have a tradition here at the Provo City Library to do a Mock Caldecott—both to help us understand the process that the real Caldecott committee goes through to pick "the most distinguished book in children’s literature," and to help us get to know and love the picture books that came out in the past year. The Caldecott is awarded specifically to illustrators of children's books, and only American illustrators are eligible (check out a few of our recent favorites from international illustrators here).
This year our group of 26 children’s book friends picked one winner and four honor books.
BEAR CAME ALONG
Written by Richard T. Morris
Illustrated by LeUyen Pham
This book is about a bear that goes on a journey down a river. The story is fun, but the illustrations were what made the book for our Mock Caldecott group. First of all, we loved the color. You may notice that the bear at first is not even fully colored. It is only when he goes to the river that he becomes the rich brown bear that is depicted in the rest of the book. Plus, if there are also other details that show that the closer to the river something is, the more color there is on that thing. The use of color tells as much of a story as does the actual story.
We also loved the use of line and motion for the book. The way that the river jogs through the pages is brilliantly done and it gets us to want to turn the page to see what is happening next. Speaking of page turns, the one where readers know that a waterfall is coming is pure perspective brilliance.
Yeah, we really liked this book.
Honor Books (in alphabetical order by title):
FIELD TRIP TO THE MOON
Written and illustrated by John Hare
In this story a young astronaut goes on a field trip (on a spaceship school bus) to the moon. However, once there, the moon-visitor gets distracted and starts coloring with crayons on a notepad. There is so much to draw that soon the spaceship school bus leaves, stranding the young cosmonaut. He ends up meeting a group of aliens who are enthralled with the box of crayons he uses for art. This wordless picture book is full of brilliant colors that pop against black, grey, and white backgrounds.
FRY BREAD: A NATIVE AMERICAN FAMILY STORY
Written by Kevin Noble Maillard
Illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
This picture book tells the story of a Native American family that spends time together making fry bread. The illustrations are beautiful. We loved the vivid expressions on the characters' faces, the diversity of the family (they don’t all look like the stereotypical portrayal of Native Americans, which is a breath of fresh air), and the extra details that add so much to each illustration. Plus, for added happiness there is a recipe in the back!
RABBIT AND THE MOTORBIKE
Written by Kate Hoefler
Illustrated by Sarah Jacoby
This story is about Rabbit who always stays close to home, prefering to listen to his friend Dog's stories of adventure on a motorbike. But one day, Dog is gone and leaves his motorbike to Rabbit. Our group loved the details and the lines of motion in this story. We especially loved the full-page spreads that showed the emotions connected to all of Rabbit’s feelings and adventures.
A STONE SAT STILL
Written and Illustrated by Brendan Wenzel
Stone doesn’t go very far—and yet there is so much that happens. From the various creatures that come and use the stone to all the light and dark moments there is a lot that happens in one small place. Our group loved how the illustrations depicted so much—each illustration has a unique feeling that matches the various moments for the stone. These are illustrations that beg to be looked at multiple times so that you can see all of the things hidden in the pictures.