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100 Scope Notes
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Reviewing Notes: Caldecott Frankenstein

Happy holidays! The blog will be back up and running on January 7. Until then, let’s take a look back at some of my favorite posts from the 100 Scope Notes archives.

Creating the Caldecott Frankenstein

Creating an exceptional work of children’s literature is as far from a scientific endeavor as you can get. If you try to apply a formula, you’re doomed. But if we want to build the Caldecott Frankenstein, we’re going to have to get scientific – weird scientific. My goal is to assemble a book using the elements most commonly found in Caldecott-winning titles. So, with a number-crunching assist from word cloud website Tagxedo, let’s get started.

Step One: Title

If you’re trying to put together a Caldecott-winning book, one thing is certain – it must be about something little. The word “little” has appeared five times in Caldecott Medal-winning books – more than any other (ignoring common words like “the”, “an”, etc.). You’re also going to want to throw “story”, “snow”, “day”, and “man” in there somewhere, as those are all tied for the second most popular word. Therefore the perfect Caldecott-winning title is…

The Story of Little Snow Man Day

Step Two: Illustrator

Who will illustrate this book? David is the clear winner for the first name, appearing seven times among Caldecott-winners. The most popular female name is Marcia. The last name race is (not surprisingly) a tie between Weisner and Brown. So here are our options:

David Weisner

David Brown

Marcia Weisner

Marcia Brown

Let’s go with…

David Brown

Step Three: Artistic Medium

For this element of our Caldecott Frankenstein, the choice is clear.


Step Four: Publisher

So who’s going to put this thing out? It appears that the big winner is…


The pieces have been chosen. Now it’s time to assemble.

With the help of a Creative Commons-licensed image and the photo editing site Picnik, I present the Caldecott Frankenstein:

Someone needs to make this book a reality. A Caldecott lock if ever there was one.

(Image: “snowman dog child”

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, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. I had no idea winning a Caldecott was so easy! Are you sure we shouldn’t go with Mr. David Weisner? He’s due for a 4th, don’t you think?!!