NEVER. Not once, have I EVER predicted the Caldecott winner. Some of the honors have been on my list, like Grandpa Green from last year, but it’s pretty rare. But then, I haven’t even really loved many of the winners. Alas, I’m not on the committee and I don’t rule the world.
Things would be different, let me tell you, if I ruled the world (or at least ALA). First, there’d be no Winner and Honors, there’d just be winners. As many as I felt deserved it. I mean, really, how much more did the committee like the winner over the honors? And the award would be no less prestigious with 5 Winners rather than 1 winner and 4 honors. Besides, prestige is all about how the award is marketed and seen by the public, which as we know from the Today Show dropping the awards like a sack of moldy potatoes, they’re not currently perceived all that well, if at all. BTW, if we ran our awards like the Oscars and put out the nominations ahead of time more buzz would be generated because people LOVE to try and predict a winning. It’s the basis of most gambling. Give them 10 books to predict from and they’ll worship the award. But predict out of hundreds? No, thanks. I’m NOT the first to think this and the topic was recently discussed on the Pubyac listserv.
Another thing I think the award winners often lack: mass kid appeal. It is kind of one the criteria for the Caldecott, actually (“The book displays respect for children’s understandings, abilities, and appreciations.” and “picture book for children” and “Committee members must consider excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.”) but some of the past winners have been pretty low on the kid appeal scale, in my opinion (and some I’ve thought would be great were NOT loved by the kids). And hey, what about an all around BEST PICTURE BOOK award so the author would win, too and we wouldn’t have to disregard ones where the pictures are maybe not the BEST art around but perfect for that story which = BEST PICTURE BOOK. No? Oh come on!
Anyway, in my alternate reality where I’m ruler of the world these books get pretty little stickers on their cover: (in no particular order since they’re all winners, remember?)
Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems
Olivia and the Fairy Princesses by Ian Falconer
Boot & Shoe by Marla Frazee
Laugh Out Loud Baby by Tony Johnston, Illustrated by Stephen Gammell
Bear Has a Story To Tell by Philip C Stead and Erin E Stead
More by I.C. Springman, Illustrated by Brian Lies
Unspoken by Henry Cole (I think elementary kids would especially love this one)
Too Tall Houses by Gianna Marino
And one I love, but isn’t eligible, sadly: A Hen for Izzy Pippick by Aubrey Davis, Illustrated by Marie LaFrance
Anyway, those are my top picks. I’ve got about 30 on my Caldecott shelf in Goodreads. I read 550 books in 2012, most of the picture books and these were the 29 I thought stood out where illustrations are concerned. And a couple I’m not sure are even eligible (Day & Night, for example, and Chu is for next year). If any of these 30 even make an honor, I’ll be thrilled. There was a LOT of great stuff out there this year.
What’s on your list? What would you change about the awards if you could?