Caldecott Club Session 5: The Party

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“I came here for the cookies and We Don’t Eat our Classmates, too” – Mo.M.

Hi! I’m Miss Eti, one of the Youth & Teen Services librarians. I hosted our fifth and final Caldecott Club session on Thursday, January 10 from 3:30-5:00 at Lincolnwood Public Library. Over the course of the past two months, we looked at 16 incredible picture books published in 2018, conducted picture walks through the books to examine the art with our artist eyes, and voted for our top 8 books that would go to our voting party. We had also developed as a community of readers, gaining new members of the Caldecott Club, who each added new insights to our discussions. It had all come down to this session where we’d choose THE best picture book of 2018. (If you’re new here and want to learn about our program, check out first blog post about Creating a Caldecott Community.)

The books we discussed were:
Ocean Meets Sky by the Fan Brothers
Hello Hello by Brendan Wenzel
A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin
Blue by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López
The Stuff of Stars by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Ekua Holmes
We Don’t Eat our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins
The Field by Baptiste Paul, illustrations by Jacqueline Alcántara

We began our session by reviewing what the Caldecott award is, which is “most distinguished American picture book for children awarded by the Association for Library Service to Children.” Our group used their own language to determine what makes a Caldecott worthy book. S. said it’s “knowing the story by the pictures.” Mo. M said, “The pictures can’t look like a blop,” to which M.A. added, “unless you’re going for that like The Dot.” I tried to provide lots of opportunities for the kids to take on leadership roles and assert their agency during this program, creating lists of jobs for the program like passing out books, collecting books, and giving out the ballots, as well as a discussion sign-up where each participant could help lead the conversation about a book they were passionate about. I’m super lucky that the kids at my library are always eager to help out, including M.A., who even came early to help me set up the program. I also told the kids to be strict with me about listening to our 5-minute timer, so we had enough time to talk about each book. We focused our discussion focused on these questions: Why should this book win (or not) our Caldecott? What did we like about the art? What does it make you feel? What stands out to you about the art?

 

Ocean Meets Sky by the Fan Brothers

Missing his grandfather, Finn sets out on a fantastical journey to find the place where the ocean meets sky.

N. led our discussion about this contemplative book. She started by sharing how she liked how “it’s all in one color for some of it.” Mo. M. added that the “pictures show Finn’s feelings basically.” I. added that when Finn is sad, everything is gray. Our group leaned into the emotional undertones of the story. “I felt kind of sad,” said S., “since he wanted to go on the journey with his grandfather, but he had to go alone.” My. M. added, “It’s very calming and kind of sad, but when you look at it more and and at the pictures, it makes you feel happy.” Our group noticed the differences between the muted memory pictures at the beginning and the colorful adventurous palette. They also noticed the signature Fan Brothers art style. “I mostly like the art because it’s so realistic,” C. said. “I like how detailed it is with the light. It looks like you could touch it,” added D. Only that morning did I notice The Gold Fish book in Finn’s grandfather’s study, revealing everything that is to come on his journey. Our group discovered new things every time we looked at Ocean Meets Sky. And of course, M.A. closed our discussion by treating us to a secret case cover reveal.   

Hello Hello by Brendan Wenzel

Vibrant, colorful and wondrous animals show how all creatures are interconnected.

M. led our discussion by revealing the marvelous patterns within the book, sharing that the last animal on each page becomes the first animal on the next page. These patterns entranced and excited our group. They shared how it had a lot of kid appeal, which is an essential part of the Caldecott criteria. “It’s really funny,” shared My. M. “I think kids will like this because it has a lot of color like the page with the turtle,” added Mo. M. The “Hello Pose” spread really is a fan favorite. “It looks like the texture is popping out,” S. shared. D. also urged us to consider the value of the book. “It’s also really important since in the back, it says the animals are endangered or mostly endangered and people will think animals are really cool, and find out they’re endangered, they’ll try to help save them.” F. added, “it makes you want to love animals even more.” This book’s call to action truly resonated with our group, using the art to reach their hearts.

 

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López

When several children feel like they don’t fit in, they discover ways to share their stories and find community and friendship.

L helped lead our discussion. Our group immediately was drawn to the endpapers. S.C. noticed the differences between the special pink flower at the beginning and end. Mo. M remarked, “It looks creative because the door is like a ruler.” The themes of being new and trying to find friendship stood out for our group. S. that it was an accurate depiction of new being new at school. My. M shared that “even though it’s a little sad, they made it really colorful.” F. shared how much she liked how the kids became friends at the end. D. shared that she really liked this book because “it tells you people should accept people’s differences.”

We Don’t Eat our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins

Penelope Rex is a dinosaur who is nervous about her first day of school, but eager to meet her new classmates. Things get complicated when she eats them.

Ma.M. helped lead our discussion of this hilarious book. She said, “It’s children-worthy. It’s childish, it’s fun, it’s funny. I really like the real drawings by real kids. You can tell they’re real drawings by how they’re made. And there’s a secret cover.” She pointed out the succulent tuna sandwiches in Penelope’s lunch. Mo. M noted the monochrome backgrounds in the book, pointing out that “I think it’s all grey because they want you pay more attention to the dinosaur and the kids.” D. was impressed by the composition of the class, sharing the variety of cultures represented in the classroom. Kids notice this attention to detail; representation truly matters. The kids connected to the theme about adjusting to a new community. “It shows being different can be okay, as long as you can adapt to your surroundings,” S. shared. Our group agreed that this book shows that people will eventually make friends.

 

The Stuff of Stars by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Ekua Holmes

The story of the start of the universe leading up to the creation of you, the reader.

D. helped lead the discussion about this cosmic tale. “A lot of people don’t really think about how the universe was made and this basically explains how it was made. Like this page where the Big Bang happened. If they really like this book, they’ll want to learn more and get more into science,” D. shared. She pointed out how detailed and colorful the hand-marbled pictures are, and how the colors blend together. N. pointed out that she loved how the letters (typography) are actually big, adding to the design of the book. Mo. M. did have some questions about the art, saying that “the art doesn’t really make sense [to me]. I’m trying to see a galaxy in purples and diamonds.” I was able to share Edi Campbell’s Calling Caldecott insights about how the “art mirrors the text”: “You can see examples of this toward the end of the book where there is order from the chaos and the printed words are arranged on a separate, blank space.” This book continued to spark curiosity. D. asked about the page with the butterflies and giraffes, contrasting  with the text that said they didn’t exist yet, leading us into a conversation about all matter existing at the beginning. She added that “I like it for the art and not a lot of people think about how the universe was created,” to which one participant added, “I do.” We have some deep thinkers in our Caldecott Club.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

A poignant story of a boy’s relationship with his beloved dog told through different kinds of blue they experience.

S. led our discussion of this minimalist, emotional book. “It shows the story of a dog and their owner and the love between them. The art is very cool and the holes correspond to the pictures on the page before it, like the blueberries,” S. shared. My. M., as always, shared the emotional hook of the story: “Most people think of blue as a sad color, but this book shows it can be happy color.” M.D. added, “it’s really sad how the dog dies.” We agreed that the saddest pages were Old Blue and True Blue. M.D. told us “I like how it has the shapes and holes [die-cuts].” S. was curious about the origins of this story if it actually happened.  I was able to share Laura’s story of loss with them, working on painting the True Blue spread while her own dog Copper became ill and passed away. According to her interview with Julie Danielson on the Seven Important Things Before Breakfast blog, “The timing was remarkable, and the last few spreads were painted while my own tears dripped upon the canvas. Writing Blue, as it turns out, explored my own loyalty and sadness — in real time.” Thinking about kid appeal, Mo. M. said, “I think kids will like it because of the color and because they probably like animals.” S. concluded our ruminations by thinking about the medium of the art: “It was really impressive that she could paint every page of this book and it’s also impressive how she can express her feelings and let it go into the world.”

 

A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin

Little Star cannot resist the mooncake that her mama has made, and so with each little nibble, the phases of the moon appear in this beautiful book about family traditions and love.

My. M. led our discussion about this delectable book, saying, “it’s really nice. I like what it represents. While [Little Star] is eating the mooncake, it shows the different phases of the moon.”  S. was impressed with the art style in depicting the characters. “It’s cool how she can make the shape of the bodies using stars because the black background matches together, so it’s hard to do that,” she said. My.M agreed that “it’s really nice how at first, it looks really easy – but you know it’s not easy to make those little dots.” Our group contemplated how beautiful art (like dancing, I’d say) can look effortless while revealing the incredible hard work and challenges that go into making it look that way.  Our group could feel the delight and joy on each page. “I love how she makes little stars and her name is Little Star,” D. gushed. Mo. M. shared the wonderful case cover secret, revealing the hidden phases of the moon. My. M. was amused by the humor within the book: “It’s really humorous. They made it and now she ate it and they’re making it again and she’s going to eat it again.” S. got to the heart of this beautiful tale, saying, “it’s the bond between a mother and child doing something together.”

 

The Field by Baptiste Paul, illustrations by Jacqueline Alcántara

Set on an Caribbean island and told with a mixture of English and Creole, children gather together to play futbol with effervescent energy that is undeterred by livestock, pouring rain, or mothers calling them in from the game.

D. helped lead the discussion of this joyful, playful tale, immediately sharing the author’s note and pointing out Baptiste Paul’s reasons for making this book. Our group connected to the theme of resilience and resourcefulness. “You just need friends and a ball to play,” S. shared. During the playing in the rain scene, Mo. M. made connections to his own knowledge of international soccer teams. D. tapped into the message of the book, saying, “it shows they keep on playing no matter what because they have each other.” Mo. M. added. “I like how in some places they’re puddles, but not everywhere. There’s different people everywhere.” My. M. also commented on the metaphors of the book, pointing to the next page when the sun returns, telling us, “Once you’re through the hard times, you go and then the sun comes out.” I. pointed out that the book “wasn’t really about a main character; it’s about everybody.”  M.S. shared her insights about the title: “I think the title corresponds with the story because the story talks about the field is where they play no matter what, with the cows, whether it’s raining or their mom is calling. It doesn’t matter where they’re playing; they’re playing and having a good time.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balloting

Having reviewed our 8 books, our group was ready to choose their winner. Our ballot helpers handed out our ballots, as well as a survey to get the kids’ feedback about this program. Mo. M. and My. M. kindly helped me with the math, which always overwhelms me. They both got to discover our winners before everyone else, but kept the secret. Once we determined our winner and honors, the kids glued the book covers to our Caldecott Club poster we had been using and put our official Caldecott Club stickers on the book covers. We raffled off posters including a Hello, Hello poster, a print from The Day You Begin, and two of our Caldecott Club posters. Everyone received a free 2018 Caldecott Award poster donated by Baker & Taylor. We have lots leftover so feel free to stop by if you want a poster or ten. Finally, our group received their well-deserved CaldeCookies as a delicious treat for their hard work!

 

 

The Winner of our 2019 Mock Caldecott is….

 

We Don’t Eat our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins 

 

 

 

 

Our Honor Books are:


Hello Hello by Brendan Wenzel

 

 

 

 

Ocean Meets Sky by the Fan Brothers

 

 

 

 

Blue by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

 

 

 

 

Our group created this video to “make the call” to let Ryan T. Higgins to let him know that they had chosen his book as our Mock Caldecott winner. 

 

Dare I say, our Caldecott Club helped create new bonds of friendship during our program. I think Penelope would be proud – and Walter the fish would be jealous.

 

 

 

But wait, there’s more!

Please join us for a live viewing party at the library during the webcast of the American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards on Monday, January 28 at 10am, including the Newbery and Caldecott awards. We’ll provide predictions, refreshments, and giveaways! This year the ALA will also highlight titles selected by the American Indian Library Association (AILA), Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), and the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL). The Coretta Scott King Book Awards is celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2019! This event is basically the “Oscars of Children’s Literature,” so you won’t want to miss it. RSVP at our Facebook event here!

If you’re still here at the end of this post, feel free to go back to where it all started. Check out our complete 2019 Caldecott Club series!

Caldecott Club Session 4

Caldecott Club Session 3

Caldecott Club Session 2

Caldecott Club Session 1