100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

Caldecott 2013: Checking In

Yesterday we talked 2013 Newbery contenders, today it’s Caldecott time. Taking a look at the Goodreads mock Caldecott list. For ongoing in-depth analysis of Caldecott-worthy picture books, but sure to add the Calling Caldecott blog (which is about to get up and running for the fall) to your reading list.

Caldecott 2013

Recent Movements: Chloe and the Lion has recently joined this group, while One Special Day has dropped down the list. Step Gently Out and Z is for Moose have also been climbing.

And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano; illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Click here for my review. Erin Stead’s first book since 2011 Caldecott winner A Sick Day for Amos McGee has received a lot of notice, with multiple starred reviews and liberal praise. The story/illustration combination works perfectly. It’s a quiet book, but that doesn’t seem to deter the Caldecott committee. Could this be a “Denzel Washington situation”, where Stead’s illustrations are universally lauded as some of the best out there, so giving her the award doesn’t hold the same urgency? The gorgeous Bear Has a Story to Tell, by Mrs. Stead and her husband, Philip, may also play into things. Will two great books by the same illustrator split the vote, or just reinforce the fact that one of them should be recognized?

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Jon Klassen

Click here for my review. I would be so pleased if this ended up with Caldecott recognition. A timeless story with a modern feel, Klassen’s illustrations harken back to some of the Provensens best work. And inventive too – if the Kirkus review is telling the truth, the knit texture comes from a scan of an actual sweater. And if you’re into omens, I did recently come across this real-life interpretation of the book while walking the streets of Traverse City, Michigan:

Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Click here for my review. Man do I love the artwork in Green, with paint liberally applied and pleasingly imperfect. It makes me feel like when I’m in an art museum and lean up close to see the brush strokes. The artwork is center stage, which can only help it’s chances.

Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolff

Click here for my review. A concept book with a simple story and beautiful block print illustrations that elevate it beyond the norm, Baby Bear Sees Blue is easy to love. I’d put this in the category of “books that can build a consensus” – which bodes well.

Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Adam Rex

I didn’t formally review this book, but I did include it in the Wildest Books of 2012 post. As an admitted sucker for meta picture books, I’ll be rooting for this one. There are so many gloriously unusual elements (like when the author, Mac Barnett, tries to step in and illustrate after Adam Rex is swallowed by a lion) that it will certainly draw attention. In the grand tradition of meta Caldecott winners like David Macaulay’s Black and White and David Wiesner’s The Three Pigs, I can see this getting some recognition.

*Bonus* Step Gently Out by Helen Frost; photographs by Rick Lieder

Click here for my review. There is a lot of love out there for this book. While it has been mentioned as a Newbery candidate (and that makes sense) I can’t help but pull for it to be the first Caldecott winner to rely solely on photographs.

What did I miss?

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. While I am a big fan of Laura Vaccaro Seeger and while a lot of people are talking about Green, I do not think Green has enough going for it in the plot dept. to win a Caldecott. It’s a pretty simple concept book. While First the Egg garnered an honor, I thought the concept there was a little newer and more creative. Do you know of any other concept books that have received awards? I look forward to reading Calling Caldecott this year!

    • Personally, I think I’m with you on Green, but I do feel like it has a good shot based on Caldecott criteria.

    • Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a concept book that has won the Caldecott medal – can anyone else out there think of one?

  2. I’m pulling for Chloe and the Lion, which floors me every time I read it. I think it’s completely brilliant. My second choice is “And Then It’s Spring.” Any book that shows a turtle wearing a winter hat, casually, without mentioning said turtle, is a contender in my mind.

  3. Christine Sullivan says:

    I feel that Green is more than substantial enough to win. Though disguised as a concept book, it’s really a very important book about the environment, encouraging us to truly see. Furthermore, the die cuts speak to the very essence of the tactile experience of a physical book. And the paintings – well – to say they’re gorgeous would be an understatement!

  4. I agree about Green being substantial. It made me tear up the first time I read it.

    I loved all these books, I must say, and today I read and fell in love with OH, NO! illustrated by Eric Rohmann. I think I have to sit with them all on my desk at once and think hard to pick a favorite.