If I were on the Caldecott Committee, there is a book I would have added to this year’s list.
Lovabye Dragon by Barbara Joosse.
This is the story of a girl who lives in a castle and longs for a dragon, and a dragon who lives outside and longs for a girl.
This lovely book sends shivers up my spine every time I read it, because of language like this:
I read Sleep Like a Tiger during story hour this week, and even though the program starts at 10 am and the toddlers are usually bouncing off the walls, I swear that by the end of this book they were starting to yawn. If I had just closed the shades and tiptoed out I think they all would have fallen asleep right there in the library. This book is that good–truly deserving of the Caldecott Honor it received this year.
This book transports readers to a peaceful, sleepy place. It is subtle. I did not appreciate its brilliance until I read it aloud, slowly, to a group of transfixed young children.
It seems to me that lately the Caldecott Committee is more interested in books that are CLEVER than in books KIDS WILL LOVE. Here is another example. Like his best-selling book I Want My Hat Back, Jon Klassen’s new, Caldecott-Medal-Winning book This Is Not My Hat has delightful, funny illustrations and appealing, minimalist text.
And like in his previous book, the penalty for stealing the hat of a fellow creature is getting eaten.
Now, getting eaten may be funny for older kids,
Buying and giving picture books is one of life’s great pleasures. For me the right picture book engages children AND the adults who read them aloud, combines beautiful pictures with pithy text, and makes you want to laugh and cry at the same time. If I have to pick one, I choose LAUGH, but the very BEST picture books do a little bit of both. Looking over these new and old favorite titles brings one wish to my mind.
May my friends and relations never stop having babies.
Here are the books I will be giving this year to the budding young book-lovers in my life.
Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin. Whether he is loving those White Shoes, Rockin’ in his School Shoes, counting his Groovy Buttons, or Saving Christmas, Pete is a cool cat with just enough learning (colors! counting!), just enough humor, and ample groovy swagger. It is no accident that Pete the Cat has sold a lot of books since his debut. He is a rockin’ addition to the picture book canon. Perfect for boys and girls 0-3.
Lovabye Dragon by Barbara Joosse. The sweet little girls on my list are getting this book this year. Embedded deeply in girl-DNA is the wish to BE a princess and HAVE a pet dragon. This book fulfills both fantasies, with lyrical text and no pink-sie cutesy. A princess book you can give your daughter without selling out. For girls 0-4.
I just found a new favorite story hour book. I read Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes today in Book Babies, and what a hit! It’s got a hip-talking, guitar-playing, white-shoe-wearing cool blue cat for a main character. And he sings!
Pete the Cat LOVES his white shoes, but he is not distraught (“it’s cool!”) when he steps in strawberries that turn them red, or blueberries that turn them blue.
A Ball for Daisy is a perfectly sweet wordless picture book about a universally popular subject: Dog loves ball. Dog loses ball. Dog is very sad. Dog gets new ball.
Sorry if that was a spoiler for anyone.
But the MOST PRESTIGIOUS AWARD IN PICTURE BOOKS?? I beg to differ with the committee.
I have no problem with this book being based on a very simple idea, and certain wordless books are a fabulous way for a kid and an adult reader to work out a story together. What is happening on this page? Uh oh! It’s raining! What will come next? Peter Spier is my favorite wordless author, but others, including David Wiesner and Jerry Pinkney, have written wonderful books with real narrative based only only in pictures.