Caldecott Club #4

Posted & filed under Blog, Youth & Teen.

Hi! I’m Miss Eti, one of the Youth & Teen Services librarians and I’m back with another recap of our latest Caldecott Club session. We had our 4th session on Thursday, November 21st and selected more books to send to our Voting Party. To refresh your memory, the Caldecott Award is the award for the most distinguished American picture book for children, given out each year by the Association for Library Service to Children. We began our program by opening our box of books like the grown-up committee, which is always an exciting moment. 

The books we discussed in session 4 were:

Going Down Home with Daddy by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Daniel Minter

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

Saturday by Oge Mora 

A Big Bed for Little Snow by Grace Lin 

Here’s the necessary spoiler alert for all of these picture books.

You can see a fantastic promotional video that some of our Caldecott Club friends made here!

Picture Walk

I honestly did not plan for 3 out of the 4 books selected for this session to be authors who won Caldecott Honors last year. I found that these books paired well with each other thematically as we thought about family and traditions. I also tried to pair shorter texts with longer ones since I’ve run out of time during previous sessions. I learn so much every single time I offer this program – and apply that new knowledge each time. After our fantastic author visit with Kyle Lukoff, who read his beautiful award-winning picture book, When Aidan Became a Brother, to us, while projecting the book on the screen, I realized I could do the same thing and scanned in all of the books we discussed today. It really made a difference in making the pictures accessible to the kids. It was also super exciting to have one of our original Caldecott Club friends from years past, R., join us for this session! I’m also super grateful that Ms. Gaby joined us again during this session, which was a huge help! 

Going Down Home with Daddy by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Daniel Minter

I switched things up this session and did a traditional read aloud of Going Down Home with Daddy by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Daniel Minter. I began with a pre-reading question, asking our group if they have experienced a family reunion or traveled to visit their family. I then shared information about the Great Migration to provide some context to the story. I later shared how the story was informed by Kelly Starling Lyons’ experiences visiting Gibsonia, PA where her grandmother grew up, as well as visiting her husband’s grandma’s house in southwest Georgia. I also pointed out the Adinkra symbols that the illustrator Daniel Minter used in the backgrounds throughout the book. According to the teacher’s guide, “Adinkra are symbols that represent concepts and are used in West African cultures.” I pointed out symbols I had noticed and their meanings to help the kids try to spot them during our read aloud. I provided space on their evaluation sheets to write down their insights and impressions so we wouldn’t stop the flow of the read aloud to take comments.

They were curious about the family tree and how everyone was connected to each other. E. noticed the figurative language in the book, which really made me happy I did a read aloud so she could experience Kelly Starling Lyons’s gorgeous prose. She was also curious about how they traveled to visit Granny and what time period this book takes place in. B. wondered if it was fiction or nonfiction, which I think speaks to how the book is grounded in lived experience, so it feels like an informational text.

He also wanted to know if the dad played the trombone or trumpet, so we returned to that passage to do a close reading to figure out that the dad played trombone and Uncle Jay played the trumpet. S. shared that there are a lot of patterns, which led us to talk about the traditions in this story expressed in the art. D. shared that “I really like how the pages don’t have a lot of colors but the colors are warm and cold and they mix together.”

E. posed a question for our group, wondering why, in the final spread with Granny, there are branches on her dress. We paused to think about the themes of this book and M. shared that “she’s the root of the family.” Z. wondered about the perspective on this page with the chickens standing out larger in this spread. This led us to talk about how this art is more abstract, which B. shared he’s learning about in school. D. shared on her notes that “I like the colors a lot. I like this book. It is good.”

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

We began our discussion of Fry Bread by asking the group: Do you have a special food in your family/culture that is special? That maybe an elder makes or taught you how to make? A food that has history? Our kids then shared some delicious foods that they make with their family. 

When I mentioned how we all have special foods in our cultures, B. jumped in by sharing about eating bread and wine for Easter, which immediately made me think about the Children’s Books Podcast interview with Kevin Noble Maillard where he’s talked about the universal importance of bread as ritual and the idea of communion; I love how B. immediately made this personal connection. I then shared pictures of the author, Kevin Noble Maillard, who is a member of the Seminole Nation, Mekusukey band and lives in New York and the illustrator, Juana Martinez-Neal, who was born in Lima, Peru and lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. I began our picture walk by sharing the powerful endpapers. B. wanted to know what the words on the endpapers were, so I asked the kids to look closely to see if they saw any familiar words. E. pointed out that they are names of Native tribes. Juana came up with the idea to list the names of Native nations as the endpapers, as she shared with Mr. Schu, “I could see the children and parents following the names with their fingers looking for the name of their Nation or Tribe.” Kevin shared in a School Library Journal interview: “that wall lists every federal, state, and developing tribe within the United States. We included these names and put them all in one place to memorialize their existence and to ratify their living presence as survivors of a governmental system that intended, fought, and warred to erase them. By putting their big names in our small book, we join them in saying “we are still here.”

As we turned to the title page, I wanted to make sure I provided some context for our discussion, embedding Kevin’s extensive author’s note within our picture walk. I shared that fry bread is a survival food that was first made by the Navajo (Diné) people over 150 years ago. I thought it was important to share a direct quote from Kevin to make sure our kids understood its origins. I read this passage from the School Library Journal interview: “When the federal government displaced Natives from their homelands, these exiles no longer had access to familiar meats, fruits, and vegetables, and they had to get by with what they had. They were given government commodities like flour, salt, and yeast. From the very worst origins of theft and conquest forcefully imposed by a larger power, Indigenous groups created the reactionary—and now cultural—food of fry bread. It’s all about making the very best of the absolute worst.” Using the Native Land tool, I shared how we are on the land of the Peoria, Bodéwadmiakiwen (Potawatomi), Miami, & Očeti Šakówiŋ (Sioux). M. then asked if our library is where a tribe was, which is the homeland of the Potawatomi, who were removed from this land, which directly connected to our conversation about Native removal and displacement. 

We then began our shared reading of Fry Bread, with our group reading the headings of each page in unison, which seemed so perfect for a book about coming together with family. As we turned to the “Fry Bread is Shape” page, I pointed out how the perspective shifts to an aerial shot looking down at a variety of fry bread shapes that are being made. On the “Fry Bread is Sound” page, which practically sizzles off the page, I pointed out the Seminole symbols of lightning and trees tattooed on the dad’s arm. On the “Fry Bread is Color,” I pointed out the diversity of Native people, as Kevin writes in the author’s note, “Just like the characters in this book, Native people may have blonde hair or black skin, tight cornrows or a loose braid. This wide variety of faces reflects a history of intermingling between tribes and also with people of European, African and Asian descent…”

As we talked about “Fry Bread is Flavor,” I shared how Kevin learned how to make fry bread from his Aunt Fannie, whose photo is found within the book, and took on this role as the family fry bread maker after she passed away. E. noticed that the baby is eating from the bowl. I am also obsessed with this adorable baby and suggested we try to find the baby in each spread. For the “Fry Bread is Art” spread, I shared current photographs of handmade dolls and coil baskets to show these handicrafts to our group. They declared that they were beautiful.

When we discussed “Fry Bread is History,” we referred back to what we learned about at the beginning of our discussion about forced removal and Native resilience. We then took a moment to clarify the family tree of the characters, examining how the Nana makes fry bread and how the dad takes on this role.

When we discussed “Fry Bread is Place,” I asked the kids what the background image was, which led D. to share that “it is the map.” I asked the kids to share if there was something different about this map. Ms. Gaby pointed out that there are no borders on the map. We discussed that the borders that we have on the land now known as the United States were created from Native lands being taken. I then shared a quote from Michael of Indigo’s Bookshelf: Voices of Native Youth, a Native teen review blog: “There is a very interesting map the children are standing on in FRY BREAD IS PLACE. You might almost think it’s the US–but not. There are no lines dividing land. That totally struck me, and like so many things we haven’t seen it before. I like the different way the kids use the space–reading or stretching–it’s theirs without all those markings.”

When we discussed, “Fry Bread is Us,” we talked about how Native people are here in our community. I shared a quote from Adversity and Resiliency for Chicago’s First: The State of Racial Justice for American Indian Chicagoans Report, stating: “Chicago is one of the primary population centers for Native Americans, representing the largest population of Native Americans in the Midwest, the second largest east of the Mississippi River, and the ninth largest in the entire nation.” I pointed out the photograph of Kevin’s Aunt Fanny and the names of the people who helped make this book possible etched onto the counter, written by Juana’s children. On “Fry Bread is You, “ we, of course, gushed about the adorable baby we’ve been following on the beautiful patterned blanket. I made sure to share again that the information I had been sharing was informed by the author’s notes at the end of the book. Then, because I have my own copy of Fry Bread, I was able to take off the jacket and reveal the brilliant case cover secret. In her comments, D. pointed out that “the baby is very cute. The food looks good. This is a good book.” R. wrote, “I like the artwork. It’s very detailed and Kevin is good at describing the captions. I like the book. I think making fry bread brings people together.” 

Saturday by Oge Mora

We began our picture walk by looking at the end papers, which shows Ava and her mom’s busy schedule – and how much they anticipate Saturdays. I shared that Oge made this book using collage made with acrylic paint, china markers, patterned paper, and old book clippings. I kept thinking about this quote from a We Need Diverse Books interview with Oge about what she hopes readers get from this book, saying: “As a picture book maker, I am all about finding the magic present in everyday life. I want to explore the beauty of the small moments we all experience. A meal with a loved one, a day spent with friends, the impact of a kind word—I think as we zoom through our lives, we can underestimate the power of these moments. If my book inspires some reflection on the time we spend with those we love, that is great.” 

We discussed how the scene with Ava and her mom getting ready for their day worked like a clock of action, which I learned is Oge’s favorite spread. This book really is a splendid read aloud with the dramatic page turns, with lots of opportunities for young readers to interact and complete the text. We noticed Ava and her mom’s body language after their fabulous hair cuts – and the immediate disappointment. We pointed out the effectiveness of that scene being a double-page spread to amplify the drama.

When we arrived at the park, we talked about how the busy visuals with so many people in the park make it feel noisy. E. noticed how Oge used musical notes in the word balloons. S. said “you can tell it’s really noisy because of what they’re all doing.”

Reading this book against the clock (because you know we were running out of time) made me feel a lot like Ava and her mom. When Ava’s mom realizes she forgot her tickets, I paused the picture walk and asked our group what they would tell the mom or their caregiver in this situation. S. shared, “To take a deep breathe. Today is splendid and today is Saturday.” R. shared that she shouldn’t blame herself for everything. D. shared that “it’s okay.” E. suggested, “It’s okay. I’m sleepy. Maybe we can make our own puppet show at the house.” Our kids brilliantly predicted the ending of this book! I love when that happens – and I especially love the chance to amplify their voices in Caldecott Club. I shared how Oge dedicated Saturday to her mom, basing it on her own childhood experiences. We then shared the case cover secret. D. wrote in her comments, “I like the artwork. It is a lesson, so you can know.” 

A Big Bed for Little Snow by Grace Lin 

While it’s covered by the mylar jacket on library copies, I was able to uncover the art information about A Big Bed for Little Snow on the jacket, which indicates that the art was done in  turner design gouache on watercolor paper. We began our picture walk by marveling at the gorgeous endpapers with birds home among the clouds. We looked closely at Little Snow’s inviting, mischievous face, exuding joy and play. Our group correctly predicted that he would jump on his bed with so much anticipation.

We then had a dramatic page turn with the first jumping, noticing the little feathers falling out of the bed. We all admitted that we’ve done the Little Snow strategy of climbing back into bed, pretending to be innocent. S. shared that she covers her eyes. We noticed how the scene zooms into Little Snow, so that he’s completely taking over the page across the gutter. 

Our group noticed the parallels between the sound of the mother’s thumping steps and Little Snow’s jumping. S. eagerly asked to read the next page and expressed it beautifully. She predicted that the mom is going to notice all of those feathers falling out.

I pointed out how Grace Lin used gouache, a thicker, non-transparent watercolor, with their pajamas are outlined by the negative space around the blue snowflakes, a pretty amazing art technique. We shared that it’s an original origin story with Little Snow causing the snowfall. I pretty much blame him for our unexpected super early snowfall this past October 31. But he’s too cute to be upset at!

I shared how A Big Bed for Little Snow is inspired by The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, which our group really loved. I pointed out that Peter is in the apartment scene, showing an image from Snowy Day with this book. I also showed Little Star, the protagonist from A Big Mooncake For Little Star, also shows up in this scene. We discussed the ending where Little Snow and his Mommy bond over the featherless bed. I then showed the case cover secret. S. shared that she loved these two last books in particular “since they were so short and so interesting.” D. shared that “I like the art. I like the boy and his dog.” 


After we had walked through each book in a whirlwind of color and conversation, we were ready to vote. Each child received a paper ballot to select their top 2 choices. The top books then are the winners of our session and go on the Voting Party on January 9. 

And the winners are….

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

Saturday by Oge Mora 

Join Us Next Time!

Please join us for our next Caldecott Club session on Thursday, December 6  from 3:30-5:00pm! And don’t forget to bring your fancy lanyards! While our registration list is full online, PLEASE contact me to get put on the list. I’d love to have you join us. We especially want our friends who plan on coming to the party on January 9th to join us so they can pick the final round of books! 

Since you’ve spent all this time reading this post, I’ll even let you know which books we’ll be discussing for our FINAL discussion session:

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson  

Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry, illustrated by Vashti Harrison

Where Are You From? by Yamile Saied Méndez, illustrated by Jamie Kim 

The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad with S. K. Ali, illustrated by Hatem Aly


A librarian always provides their sources – here are a series of resources I found while preparing for this program that you may want to check out:

Going Down Home with Daddy by Kelly Starling Lyons,  illustrated by Daniel Minter

Publisher’s Page 

Author Spotlight: Kelly Starling Lyons

Discussion Questions 

Seven Impossible Things (Julie Danielson) 

Roadtrippin’ It with Lil Alan By Julie Danielson 

Family Reunions: Coming Together & Going Home by Kelly Starling Lyons (The Brown Bookshelf) 

Daniel Minter’s Website

Kelly Starling Lyon’s Website 

Going Down Home with Daddy by Michelle Martin (Calling Caldecott) 

Remembered Reunion (Margaret M. Myers-Culver’s Librarian’s Quest)

From the Sketchbook: Daniel Minter (Children’s Book Council) 

The Home Inside of Me by Kelly Starling Lyons (Reunions Magazine) 

Review of the Day (Betsy Bird’s A Fuse #8 Production) 

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

Publisher’s Page

Kevin Noble Maillard’s Website 

Juana Martinez-Neal’s Website 

Highly Recommended: FRY BREAD: A NATIVE AMERICAN FAMILY STORY (American Indians in Children’s Literature Blog by Dr. Debbie Reese) 

FRY BREAD, by Kevin Noble Maillard, Illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal–a group review (Indigo’s Bookshelf: Voices of Native Youth)

The Children’s Book Podcast with Matthew Winner interview with Kevin Noble Maillard & Juana Martinez-Neal

Fry Bread: A Tribute to Family and Tradition: An Interview with Kevin Noble Maillard by Daryl Grabarek (School Library Journal) 

Across Time, Country and Culture (Margaret M. Myers-Culver’s Librarian’s Quest)

BookFest @Bank Street LIVE STREAM 2019 (KidLitTV)

Food Brings Families Together In ‘Fry Bread’ (NPR’s Morning Edition)

2 Question Q&A with Kevin Noble Maillard (Bartography)

Shelf Awareness Review 

Cover Reveal: Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard &  Juana Martinez-Neal (Mr. Schu’s Watch. Connect. Read.) 

Meet-the-Author Recording with Kevin Noble Maillard (Teaching Books)

Publishers’ Preview: Debut Authors: Five Questions for Kevin Noble Maillard (Horn Book) 

Native children will be seen in ‘Fry Bread’ by Kolby KickingWoman (Indian Country Today) 

Q & A with Kevin Noble Maillard and Juana Martinez-Neal by Sally Lodge (Publisher’s Weekly)

Native Voices: Kevin Noble Maillard on Writing Fry Bread by Kim Rogers (Cynsations) 

Adversity and Resiliency for Chicago’s First: The State of Racial Justice for American Indian Chicagoans Report

Saturday by Oge Mora 

Book Chat with the Illustrator Oge Mora for SATURDAY

On ‘Saturday’ With Oge Mora by Daryl Grabarek (School Library Journal)

Meet-the-Author Recording with Oge Mora (Teaching Books) 

Seven Impossible Things (Julie Danielson) 

Bookpage Review (Julie Danielson) 

Gratitude – An Attitude (Margaret M. Myers-Culver’s Librarian’s Quest)

Q&A with Oge Mora: SATURDAY by We Need Diverse Books 

Kirkus Review 

Caldecott Honoree Oge Mora discusses SATURDAY and THANK YOU, OMU! (LB School & Library Podcast) 

Big Bed for Little Snow 

Gouache (Children’s Book Art:  Techniques and Media)

Horn Book Review (Julie Danielson) 

Little Snow’s Snowstorm (Grace Lin’s Blog) 

Sew Little Snow’s Bed (Grace Lin’s Blog) 

Big Bed for Little Snow: Interactive Read Aloud and Activities (Curious City DPW)

Book Chat with the Illustrator: Grace Lin for A Big Bed for Little Snow

In Conversation: Grace Lin and Alvina Ling (Publisher’s Weekly) 

Little Snow Interactive Storytime

Book Friends Forever Podcast