Caldecott Challenge Update, #1

I’ve been reading lots of picture books over the last few weeks and I wanted to write an update on my progress with the Caldecott Challenge.

Books read: 70/306 (That number will change when the ALA announces the 2012 Caldecott winners next week!)

Current Caldecott Bookstack

I have really been enjoying reading for the Caldecott Challenge. My youngest, Small, who is seven, has been reading along with me for most of the books. Find all of these books reviewed over at my Goodreads Caldecott bookshelf, follow along in the discussions at Twitter using the hashtag #nerdcott, or join us in the stress-free Challenge!

Thoughts and highlights from this stack:

  • Oldest books: Caldecott Awards 1938 (Seven Simeons and Four and Twenty Black Birds)
  • Newest books: Caldecott Awards 2009 (The House in the Night and How I Learned Geography)
  • This stack included three books illustrated by Robert LawsonFour and Twenty Blackbirds, Wee Gillis, and They Were Strong and Good. I think it’s safe to assume the Caldecott Committee liked his work.
  • In general, books from the 1930s and 40s have LOTS and LOTS of words. Small occasionally ran from the room when she saw some of those text packed pages. Interesting reaction, but understandable when you see picture books of today that have significantly fewer words and more “white space”.

Some memorable books from the stack . . .


April’s Kittens, written and illustrated by Clare Turlay Newberry, 1941 Caldecott Honor

Sweet story with charming soft focus illustrations that will appeal to animal lovers. The ending had us cheering happily.


Nothing At All, by Wanda Gág, 1942 Caldecott Honor

I loved this book! The design of the book is so perfect from the fun font type, to the sweet and soft colored illustrations. The story is about a puppy eager to alter himself so that he can reunite with his brothers. This book stood out for it’s design. There was less text on each page and plenty of margin space. I can’t exactly put my finger on why, but it is so much more visually attractive to read. So many of the books to this point in the 1930s and 1940s seemed to be filled with text and illustration from one side of the book to the other.


 In the Forest, written and illustrated Marie Hall Ets, Caldecott Honor 1945

I really liked this one, as we follow a boy on an imaginary adventure where he gathers up animals to join his parade, and  I still think it will appeal to readers today. And for a 1940s bonus, it too, is not too wordy!


The House in the Night, written by Susan Marie Swanson and illustrated by Beth Krommes, Caldecott Medal 2009

My girls are a bit too old for this wonderful book to have entered our personal library, but believe me it would have been if they were only a few years younger. A very sparse, comforting text accompanies the lovely and intricately detailed scratchboard illustrations. It has a rhythm and predictability that will have young readers anticipating what will come next, much the way my girls did with Goodnight Moon. I suspect I’ll be gifting this one a lot to the toddlers and preschoolers in my life!


3 comments on “Caldecott Challenge Update, #1

  1. Anna Zbacnik says:

    I like your format. I especially how big your images show up. We have been loving some of the same books. My little one loves them all–I find myself hiding the wordy ones–so long to read aloud.

  2. Amy B. says:

    Oh my goodness. I haven’t thought about In the Forest in decades!! Your photo totally reminded me of this book. I read it when I was little but I don’t think I ever realized it was a Caldecott winner!

  3. Lorna says:

    @Amy- Funny how an image can bring something back! I had the same reaction to the Newbery list when I saw “Strawberry Girl”; I hadn’t thought about that book in 30+ years when I read it at my grandma’s house. Thanks for stopping by the blog!

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