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More Medal Mania November 5, 2012

Posted by ccbooks in Analysis.
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We continue to race towards January and the ALA Media Awards, altogether too quickly for my taste. This year I’m trying my hardest to keep up with the debates on Caldecott, Newbery and Printz contenders. Here are my top five (at the moment) for the Caldecott.

Bear Has a Story to Tell, illust. by Erin E. Stead

This title just barely beat out And Then It’s Spring, Stead’s other picture book from earlier in the year. I love them both. But I think Stead’s illustrations for this story, which use more negative space and give the suggestion of woods, snow, leaves and earth through her lines and splotches of color, are a bit more distinguished. It may be that there is more different in visual style between these illustrations and those for Amos McGee and I am nothing if not a sucker for variety. Really, though, I would be ecstatic if she won for either book.

Chloe and the Lion, illust. by Adam Rex

I think I’ve started a pattern here…I’m nominating all the books by authors I’ve met this year. This book also features an impressive variety of illustration styles–cartoonish animals, cardboard theater sets, puppets made from Sculpey and fabric. I love picture books that play with the expectations of the reader, and this book never lets you sit back and relax for a moment. You have author and illustrator arguing, creators getting eaten, drawings attempted and then discarded. This book has one of my favorite themes of any picture book this year: no matter how frustrating or difficult it is, you can’t just stop telling the story.

A Home for Bird, illust. by Philip C. Stead

Oh no! Stead vs. Stead! I fell in love with this title earlier in the year and it has stayed in my top five ever since. The story is quiet–no dragons or lions–but contains a quest that is no less important for being rather ordinary: the search for a home. Philip Stead writes friendship into the tiny details, and just as Amos and his animal friends won our hearts a few years back, so do Vernon and his friend Bird in this story. The loose, colorful drawings reflect Vernon’s love of life and wish for happiness for everyone in his world. A truly stellar addition to the year’s picture books.

This is not my Hat, illust. by Jon Klassen

More coming soon on this title.  Let me just say for now that it tied with Chloe and the Lion for making me laugh the hardest.

Step Gently Out,  illust. by Rick Lieder

I am a storyteller–albeit, usually through movement and puppets, rather than words and pictures on a page. I love character and I love plot. But this book reminded me of how, without any of those details but with carefully selected images and precise words, a book can open your eyes to the beauty you often miss in the everyday world. I know that many readers will open this title and just go “WOW.” The photographs are that stunning and the poem only enhances their power. I would be happy if any of the titles above won the Caldecott Medal. But if this book is the first picture book to win with photography, I think I will do an extra little happy dance.

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