Monday, January 23, 2017

Congrats to 2017 Caldecott Winners!

Watching the ALA Awards announcements live this morning was thrilling and joyous! From the dominance of March Book Three to Duncan Tonatiuh winning two ... two Pura Belpré illustrator honor awards to having booktalked four of the five Printz award winners to my students, there was lots of excitement to be had!

But of course the big anticipation is saved for the oldest awards: the Caldecott and the Newbery. This year, we hosted a Mock Caldecott among several grade levels of kids, and ALL of the winners came from our mock list! Below you will find the actual winners, along with some student (and teacher) commentary.

Caldecott Honor Books 2017

Leave Me Alone! (2016) by Vera Brosgol. Admit it. We've all been there. In this hilarious picture book, our poor little old lady protagonist faces endless interrupts in her quest for peacefully knitting nirvana. Who interrupts her (and why) will keep readers chuckling through until the end.

Abby: The illustrations in here were really funny, especially the one about the moon-men. Although it's not the most scientifically accurate book (all those wormholes), the drawings were done really well. I also liked how the illustrator foreshadowed the bears coming by drawing their shadows on the page before that.

Freedom in Congo Square (2016) by Carole Boston Weatherford and R. Gregory Christie. I love picture books that are truly poems. Freedom in Congo Square tells a rhythmic interpretation of the weekly countdown to the one half-day of free time granted to slaves in New Orleans. Each day of the week is represented through the grind of the work and abuse heaped on different slaves in different situations. This acknowledgement of the tough conditions helps emphasize the importance of Congo Square and the relative "freedom" it represented, as slaves were allowed time to themselves to freely sing, dance, and host markets.

Erik: The illustrations really reflect the words, making it easy for little kids to read. It is a classic style, and I like history in a picture book. It tells a true story but in a less violent manner.

Du Iz Tak? (2016) Illustrated and written by Carson Ellis.

Simon: Du Iz Tak, had very good drawings, because the book was written in a made up language. The drawings illustrated everything. I don't know why, but the drawing style fit almost perfectly with the language. Du Iz Tak was fun to read, because of the interesting language, and had amazing pictures to illustrate the whole story.

Ceci: I absolutely loved this book. It was possible to decipher part of the made-up language the characters spoke, but the book made you rely on the pictures to understand the story. It was humorous and entertaining, and made you think while getting the main point across.

They All Saw a Cat illustrated and written by Brendan Wenzel is an incredible take on the idea of perspective and multiple points of view, and I love the different styles and feelings of the artwork throughout this book.

Griff: A picture book's main is to use the unique pictures to show the story in an interesting way and they all saw a cat did just that. They all saw a cat is a picture book showing the same cat through the eyes of different people, or animals. When the cat is shown through the eyes of a fox, it is shown as being prey, soft, and plump. The contrast in art can show how we all we different things, depending on our situation, I thought that this was a great book.

Peter: I think that the book "They All Saw a Cat" was a very great and original book. I thought it was neat to show how the different animals saw the cat. I thought that that style of art was not only creative it was also teaches kids how different animals see. I think that this would be the perfect book for a kid and it should win the Caldecott.

Caldecott Winner for 2017 is ...

Radiant Child: the story of young artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (2016) by Javaka Steptoe [Mock Caldecott contender]. This biography of street artist turned museum-worthy artist Jean-Michel Basquiat has really grown on me after reading it aloud and discussing it with both of my classes. (Originally I was turned off by the decision not to include any of Jean-Michel Basquiat's original art in the story, so I showed selections from his web site instead.) They really appreciated how Javaka Steptoe took Basquiat's style and colorful palette but rendered it in a way that was more familiar and comprehensible to a younger audience. There are so many hidden details that make the reader keep coming back and back.

Joshua: I really liked how the art was done similar to the unique style of Basquiat.

Want more Caldecott details?

(Click the 'Caldecott' tag to see previous ballots and winners. Our students have a great track record over the last two years, having previous picked winner/honor books like Finding Winnie, Waiting, and Beekle.)

Which was your favorite this year?

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