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2013 Caldecott Medal Predictions

Last year, my Caldecott prediction batting average was .500. Given the unpredictability of this award, I should probably give up after that. Call it a prediction career. Hang up my keyboard.

But it’s no fun to stand idly by when there are guesses to be thrown about.

Here are my picks for 2013 Caldecott glory.

Caldecott Medal Prediction: Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashey Wolff

Scanning the lay of the 2012 picture book land, Ashley Wolff’s transcendent concept book seems to have the best shot at the big award. First and foremost, Wolff’s linoleum block print and watercolor illustrations are distinguished as all get out. Secondly, to my eyes, it has more consensus-building potential than just about any book you can name. As close to a perfect picture book as you’ll find this year.

Caldecott Honor Prediction: Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Jon Klassen

I go back and forth on this book and the small issue of incorrectly held knitting needles¹. It doesn’t matter. It does matter. Flip flop flip. Today I say the overall strength of the artwork is too powerful to be held back by a couple needles. The seamless interplay between Barnett’s words and Klassen’s visuals clearly puts this book in the top class of 2012 releases. Sometimes I see it winning the big medal, other times I wouldn’t be surprised if it fell completely out of the running. Today I foresee a Caldecott Honor. Ask me tomorrow, and I’ll give you another opinion.

¹Backstory: there’s one illustration where the main character appears to be holding knitting needles upside down. I included it in my 2012 Children’s Lit: The Year in Miscellanea post.

Caldecott Honor Prediction: Oh, No! by Candace Fleming; illustrated by Eric Rohmann

Man, just look at the artwork. Eric Rohmann’s relief print illustrations are mesmerizing. Every time I pick this book up, the richness of the artwork jumps off the page. Candace Fleming’s lively text only adds to the party, creating a book that is tough to overlook.

Caldecott Honor Prediction: Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole

Henry Cole’s breathtaking pencil illustrations carry the full storytelling load in this wordless look at a specific moment in American history. It’s difficult to deny that this book contains some of the best artwork of 2012. Barring any negative affects from Blanket-gate, I see this book garnering an honor.

Caldecott Honor Prediction: Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

While I keep thinking this book would drop off the list, I keep going back to read it and realizing it has as good a shot as any discussed thus far. In Green, the story is the artwork. And it’s beautiful. With carefully considered die cuts, each turn of the page leads to a new discovery.

What did I miss? What do you agree with?

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. Niki Barnes says:

    I just hope it is one of the 16 we read for our mock Caldecott. My 2nd graders will be so excited! They were looking at the bulletin board today and saying -we’ve read all those books! They sounded so proud!!

  2. The universal love for “Green” as a Caldecott possibility baffles me. I like the book just fine, but I’ve never found it as stunning as other people seem to. I agree with your other selections.

    What do you think about “Chloe and the Lion” as a possibility? I love the book, and the illustration is such a unique part of the meta appeal.

    • I agree with you about “Green.” Just doesn’t do it for me. Yes, it’s very beautiful, but the Caldecott should award an artist who takes a story to another level through the art. “Green” doesn’t do that for me. I’m betting on “Hello! Hello!” or “Laundry Day.” Though I agree with you Travis- it’s impossible to predict! So many books with great art make it a challenge (= good problem!)

      • Travis Jonker says:

        Thanks for your thoughts, Susan – it will be interesting to see how Green fares. And thanks for mentioning hello! hello! and Laundry Day. Both those books were featured on the Calling Caldecott blog, which makes a good case for both.

    • Travis Jonker says:

      Hi Pam – Green was the trickiest inclusion on this list (which is more of a “what I think will win” more than a “I really hope this wins”). But Green is a book that seemed to keep coming up during the course of the year when I would talk picture books with people. And after recent re-reads I can see how it has a good chance of being in the discussion. On the “I really hope this wins” side of things, Chloe and the Lion is at the top of the list, right next to Step Gently Out, which I’d love to see. Both of those books I didn’t include because I figured it might be difficult for everyone on the committee to agree on them.

    • Travis Jonker says:

      Red Knit Cap Girl – now that seems like a darkhorse candidate with a lot of potential to end up with Caldecott hardware. It was on the New York Times best illustrated list, which usually contains a Caldecott book or two (last year A Ball for Daisy, Grandpa Green and Me…Jane were also NYT Best Illustrated winners). I was somewhat lukewarm on the story, but loved the artwork.

  3. I have a post predicting Caldecott and Newbery and used your list and #8 Fuse Productions (plus added a few of my own). http://www.pragmaticmom.com/2012/09/award-winning-books-newbery-caldecott/

    I hope Red Knit Cap Girl and anything by Ed Young get a nod this year!!! Fingers Crossed!

  4. What? No Z Is for Moose?

    • Travis Jonker says:

      I really love that book! It does seem like Z has a lot of support – another book that is likely a strong contender. For me, it didn’t jump out as being stronger than any of the books I listed – but certainly in that class.

  5. Almost every children’s book has the knitting needles problem. Just yesterday I read The Hueys The New Sweater and saw the same thing. I think it all stems from old Tweety Bird cartoons.

    • Travis Jonker says:

      This is interesting, Lauren – I never really thought about the fact that this is likely a widespread error. And it’s nice to know we can blame Tweety for it.

  6. I personally thought More by I.C. Springman, ill by Brian Lies stood out as a contender… Gorgeous pictures with lovely character expression, simplistic for sharing yet deeper message, excellent action that had students at various ages gasp, and the friendship component was touching as well…

    • Travis Jonker says:

      Good call Debbie – I wouldn’t be surprised in the least to see More win Caldecott. It has an impressive integration of story and illustration.

  7. Sharon Verbeten says:

    OK, I agree with you on Jon Klassen, but I’d rather see it go to I Want My Hat Back! Love the wry sense of humor, minimalist illustrations. Also LOVE Green, but I agree with your other poster–no Z is for Moose? Or is the text too integral to the meaning there?

    • Travis Jonker says:

      It will be very interesting to see if This Is Not My Hat ends up on the Caldecott list. I’m with you on how great it is. Although it’s not a sequel, I wonder if will suffer from the fact that it is similar in tone to I Want My Hat Back.

  8. Debbie, I LOVE More and would love to see it on the final list. I also like Magritte’s Marvelous Hat by Johnson and Laundry Day. I would dearly love to see Step Gently Out make the Caldi Cut. Count me as one who thinks Oh, No is a prime contender. I am also a fan of Green because I work with students who think green is just one thing. I think this is really an eye opening book for many young artists. And this just may be Henry Cole’s year–but let’s not speak about that! I like Yarn and Baby Bear Sees Blue–but I have not spent as much time with them as other books. I would need the committee to convince me.


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