Welcome back to our 2021 Caldecott Club! I’m Miss Eti, one of the Youth & Teen Services librarians at Lincolnwood Library. We have come full circle during this, our 4th Caldecott Club, inspired by the fantastic program that Brian Wilson created at Evanston Public Library in 2016. This year we are hosting a collaborative virtual Caldecott Club WITH Mr. Brian and Evanston Public Library. We have been learning so much about how to host this program virtually – and it’s been so fun to join together across our community to geek out about gorgeous picture books!
We met together on Zoom on January 19, 2021 with a group of wonderful readers, their families, and friends to talk about all things picture books. We designed this program to be open to kids from around 1st grade through 8th grade and up because picture books are for everybody and everyone can learn from each other. I’ve tried to recap their brilliance in this post. (You can read the recaps from Session #1 here, Session #2 here, and Session #3 here.) We reached the culmination of our hard work picture walking and evaluating picture books for months: The Voting Party! We were joined by our program buddy, Ann, and our Evanston Library buddy, Laura. We also were joined by a special guest, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast blogger, author, and librarian, Julie Danielson!
During this program series, different kids have attended a variety of sessions so it was pretty exciting to have most of our regular attendees – and some new friends attend our culminating program. The wonderful thing about picture books is their accessibility for engagement, whether you’re a first timer at Caldecott Club or a longtime fan.
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.” Mr. Brian, as usual, revealed the books we’d discuss and helped get us excited! He also encouraged us to listen to each other and approach each book with an open mind. We then jumped into our discussion. We started the conversation about each book with a quick booktalk/picture walk to ensure everyone was familiar with the books. (The summaries below are from the descriptions from the publishers’ pages.) During our discussion, we asked the kids to share what they liked about the art, starting with the positive things first, as per the CCBC Book Discussion Guidelines, and then share what didn’t work for them about the art. A reoccurring theme throughout our discussion that the kids brought up was comparing the books to each other, which is a helpful strategy for all committees.
Our essential questions were:
- What did you like about the art?
- How well did the art express the themes/ideas/story?
- Why should it win our Caldecott Club Award?
- What could have been done better? Why shouldn’t it win our Caldecott Club Award?
Iris loves to push the elevator buttons in her apartment building, but when it’s time to share the fun with a new member of the family, she’s pretty put out. That is, until the sudden appearance of a mysterious new button opens up entire realms of possibility, places where she can escape and explore on her own. But when she’s forced to choose between going at it alone or letting her little brother tag along, Iris finds that sharing a discovery with the people you love can be the most wonderful experience of all.
Brian led our discussion about Lift. He started with a fantastic booktalk to recap Iris’s whirlwind adventures with the magical elevator button. He pointed out the unique features of the art in the comic-book style, the evocative facial expressions and body language, the use of humor, the dramatic page turns and double-page spreads, and use of perspective.
One reader shared how the art showed the girl’s emotions and how mad she got each time she didn’t get to press the button. Mr. Brian affirmed, “you could feel what she was feeling.” M. shared, “I love Lift because it’s drawn super well with all the little details.. and how every time [she] goes to a different place…” This led us into a discussion of the medium of Lift, which is usually found on the copyright page, but not in this book. The art is so fantastic and seems like it could be oil painting. We looked back at our notes and determined that it was made using Photoshop and Procreate. I have linked a video from Politics & Prose with Minh Lê and Dan Santat where Dan shows his process illustrating the book, including many of the things he changed between drafts (yay for the magical places inspirations)! A. shared that “every page has a special detail.” It was interesting how the comic book style worked for some readers and others did not prefer the format. Readers did share how they liked how it really showed emotion. L., shared, “I like it just fine. I actually love it. It’s one of my favorites.”
When is an old truck something more? On a small, bustling farm, a resilient and steadfast pickup works tirelessly alongside the family that lives there, and becomes a part of the dreams and ambitions of the family’s young daughter. After long days and years of hard work leave the old truck rusting in the weeds, it’s time for the girl to roll up her sleeves. Soon she is running her own busy farm, and in the midst of all the repairing and restoring, it may be time to bring her faithful childhood companion back to life.
Julie led our discussion about The Old Truck. She shared an excellent booktalk about the little girl growing up on the farm with the old truck as the constant in her life, and eventually she fixes up the old truck. Julie pointed out how it’s made with a mixture of traditional stamps and digital art, the limited color palette, simple shapes and patterns that express big ideas about working hard and family, inspired by the women in the creators’ family who worked really hard. Julie also pointed out how the truck stays in the same place in each spread. Y. shared that “this story is kind of unique. Most people end up buying different vehicles, but they keep this one, like it’s just as special as their family.” S. added, “I like how you could see the time passing.” R. said, “it’s kind of interesting to see how she grows up on every page.” M. added, “I really liked how the whole stamp thing. It looked really cool and I loved the color scheme – and I could see myself painting my walls using it.” Jules helped us think critically about the use of earth tones to convey meaning in The Old Truck – and how fitting it was for the themes of the story. Lu. shared how when we flipped through the book, it felt like a movie seeing the truck in the same place with everything changing. (10 points to us for making digital versions of the books available!)
Inspired by the many Indigenous-led movements across North America, We Are Water Protectors issues an urgent rallying cry to safeguard the Earth’s water from harm and corruption–a bold and lyrical picture book written by Carole Lindstrom and vibrantly illustrated by Michaela Goade.
Water is the first medicine.
It affects and connects us all . . .
When a black snake threatens to destroy the Earth
And poison her people’s water, one young water protector
Takes a stand to defend Earth’s most sacred resource.
I (Eti) led the discussion for We are Water Protectors. I reminded our group that it was illustrated by Michaela Goade, using watercolors, which is absolutely fitting and perfect for this book. I talked about how this book focuses on our relationship to water, and when the black snake/oil pipeline threatens the water, plants, animals, and people, the Indigenous-led resistance movement rises up to speak up and protect the water, which continues on today. H. shared, “I like this book because it teaches people how to treat the environment.” La. added, “I liked the watercolors. It really showed nature. I also liked why it was written and explained what was happening and why it’s bad.” You know I love good back-matter, too, my friend. Y. shared, “What I like about this is that they’re fighting for their water, just like some people right now during COVID, who don’t have water which is why they’re suffering so much.” (This powerful comment shows how incredible both this young reader is – and this gorgeous book that provokes this thoughtful comment. I can’t help but be reminded about the vital importance of access to clean water in Indian Country.) M. shared her favorite spreads when people are in a circle, declaring, “We stand/with our songs/and our drums./We are still here. She also really liked the spread that shows the negative impact of the pipeline on the wildlife, recognizing the creativity to express it.
A breathtaking picture book featuring a Korean girl and her haenyeo (free diving) grandmother about intergenerational bonds, finding courage in the face of fear, and connecting with our natural world. Dayeon wants to be a haenyeo just like Grandma. The haenyeo dive off the coast of Jeju Island to pluck treasures from the sea–generations of Korean women have done so for centuries. To Dayeon, the haenyeo are as strong and graceful as mermaids. To give her strength, Dayeon eats Grandma’s abalone porridge. She practices holding her breath while they do the dishes. And when Grandma suits up for her next dive, Dayeon grabs her suit, flippers, and goggles. A scary memory of the sea keeps Dayeon clinging to the shore, but with Grandma’s guidance, Dayeon comes to appreciate the ocean’s many gifts.
Julie led our discussion about The Ocean Calls. Julie talked about how Dayeon overcomes her fear of diving to join her grandmother, who is a haenyeo. Julie pointed out how the art was made digitally, pointing out the textures throughout the book, the mermaid imagery, playful perspectives, and magical purple. Julie also pointed out that Jess X. Snow worked really hard to accurately represent the haenyeo women in their culture. H. shared, “when they draw the ocean, if I were to do that, I would draw a straight line, but they drew waves, which is kind of cool.” Y. shared that he liked how Dayeon overcame her fear. M. shared how much she liked the backgrounds and surroundings with the colors, especially the ocean and the field. Lu. commented, “the ocean looks so real, you can almost feel it.” Julie talked about how the medium was really effective to express these ideas. Another reader added, “I like the way they draw everything. It makes it look super realistic and shows the expressions. Everything looks really fitting to the story.” B. shared, “I really like that they made the shadows into mermaid shapes. Also, I love mermaids. They’re one of my favorite things.” Julie shared that there’s a lot of mermaid imagery since the haenyeo are, as the author’s note states, “fondly known as Korea’s granny mermaids” and also “Indigenous marine biologists.” H. shared, “I think it should win since Dayeon had a fear of the water … and she went through it bravely and it tells the reader that fear is just another reason why you should try harder to do the things you’re afraid of.”
In this lively, rousing picture book from Caldecott Honoree Jillian Tamaki, a crew of resourceful neighbors comes together to prepare a meal for their community. With a garden full of produce, a joyfully chaotic kitchen, and a friendly meal shared at the table, Our Little Kitchen is a celebration of full bellies and looking out for one another. Bonus materials include recipes and an author’s note about the volunteering experience that inspired the book.
Ann led our discussion of Our Little Kitchen. She shared a fantastic booktalk about community kitchen bringing everyone together. She pointed out how it was drawn with nib pens and colored digitally, with a comics art style. She also pointed out how the book uses onomatopoeia to visually show the sounds, immersing you in the kitchen noises and smells, with a mixture of realism and surrealism. Ms. Ann also pointed out the excellent author’s note and recipe endpapers. Y. shared, “I like how in the end, the kid says, ‘Ok, time to clean up!'” H. shared how she liked the use of onomatopoeia “to show the reader what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.” A. shared that she’s learning about onomatopoeia in school for writing, which is such a great personal connection. B. shared how she liked how there’s so much detail on all the pages. She also noticed the shape and size of the text. S. shared that she liked it because she likes graphic novels and also likes to cook and bake. R. pointed out how the book starts out quiet, gets loud and then gets quiet again. Ann pointed out how the use of white space helps communicate in the book. J. shared, “This is my favorite book. I like how the art is like a comic book.” Ann modeled a fantastic text-to-text comparison to reflect on the comics features between Our Little Kitchen and Lift. L. shared that the comics features felt stronger in Lift but liked Our Little Kitchen better because of the drawing style that feels like a page of well-drawn doodles. H. shared that “they’re making food to help people who don’t have it, so that’s nice to know . . . so it’s kind that they’re helping others.”
Captain Swashby loves the sea, his oldest friend. And he loves his life by the sea just as it is: salty and sandy and serene. One day, much to Swashby’s chagrin, a young girl and her granny commandeer the empty house next door. All Swashby wants is for his new neighbors to GO AWAY and take their ruckus with them. When Swashby begins to leave notes in the sand for his noisy neighbors, however, the beach interferes with the messages that are getting across. Could it be that the captain’s oldest friend, the sea, knows what Swashby needs even better than he knows himself?
Laura led our discussion of Swashby and the Sea. She framed it as a story of “eventual friendship,” which is such a perfect way of putting it. Laura helped point out how the art shows how the sea is another character in the book. She shared how the expressions are larger than life, especially noticing the character’s eyes, noting the muted colors to convey it’s a beach story. H. shared how she liked how it’s an unlikely friendship story, appreciating how the girl never gives up and keeps coming back. B. added how it’s funny and liked how the ocean didn’t wash all the letters out, but made different words from the letters. L. declared that, “it should be first. It’s a good book – it’s about friendship – and I’m all about friendship. And it’s very funny too.” Y. shared that it’s also a favorite, and like The Ocean Calls, the girl went into the ocean even though she didn’t want to.
After we had walked through each book in a whirlwind of color and conversation, we were ready to vote for the winner of our 2021 Caldecott Club. This year, since we met virtually, I created a google form for people to vote for their first, second, and third choice. (If you’re interested in the technical details, I downloaded the results into an spreadsheet, calculated the number (1st place gets 3 points, 2 gets 2, and 3rd place gets 1) and then added up the totals. I then was able to screenshare to show how we got our results for full transparency. Finally, the math was complete and we were ready to announce our winners!
The Winner of our Evanston Public Library and Lincolnwood Library 2021 Mock Caldecott is….
Lift by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat
Our group selected 3 Honor Books:
Our Little Kitchen by Jillian Tamaki
Swashby and the Sea by Beth Ferry, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
The Old Truck by Jerome Pumphrey & Jarrett Pumphrey
But wait, there’s more!
We will have a live Youth Media Awards Viewing Party on Zoom on Monday, January 25 at 8:00am CST! You can even get a special Grab & Go Kit in Lincolnwood Library’s Great Green Box. Register here.
Then, in the evening, we’ll meet up together at our regular Caldecott Club time (Monday, January 25 at 7pm CST) to watch selections from the Youth Media Awards webcast and react to the winners.
You can put Caldecott Club books on hold at our libraries here.
I have created a RESOURCE GUIDE with activities, videos, podcasts, program kit supplies, handouts, and more to share the sources we’ve used and continue the learning! We hope it will be useful for you to explore these books at home!
Thank you to everyone who joined us for Caldecott Club! Thank you so much to Mr. Brian for this incredible collaboration! Thank you so much to Ann and Laura for being our awesome buddies and facilitators. Thank. you to our special guest, Julie Danielson, for joining our Caldecott Club community, leading two discussions, and sharing your notable picture book expertise! And of course, thank you to our friends, families, and young readers who are our Caldecott Club!