It started with two schools, 16 of the best picture books of the year, and around 200 eager second-grade students. And a RAV4 (for me to ship books between schools). Over the course of 5 weeks students read all of the candidates and voted on their favorites, based on a simplified version of the Caldecott criteria (more on the set-up here).
Well, the results are in, and there are some surprises.
Here are our winners, listed by score in ascending order:
Mock Caldecott Honor: Red Knit Cap Girl by Naoko Stoop
Perhaps a Caldecott darkhorse? It’s been quietly sticking around in the discussion, popping up on the important (for Caldecott potential) New York Times Best Illustrated list. Our second graders appreciated the book too, making it a clear Mock Caldecott Honor.
Mock Caldecott Honor: Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Adam Rex
I would love to see this incredibly inventive title win Caldecott recognition. It’s definitely nontraditional, and I wasn’t confident it would fare well with youngsters, but there was no need for concern. Students loved it, giving the book high marks all around.
Mock Caldecott Honor: Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
The more I discuss this book with adults, the more mixed the reaction seems to be, making me question its Caldecott chances. Because of this, I was surprised to see it received the second-highest amount of votes. Kids approve.
Mock Caldecott Medal: One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo; illustrated by David Small
Can’t say I’ve seen this turn up on mock Caldecott lists (heck, even best of the year lists), but it received unanimous perfect scores from our second graders. I was already feeling like this book was sadly flying under the radar, and this reception adds fuel to my fire. If it turns up on the Caldecott podium later this month, I’ll be fairly shocked. Happy as all get out, but shocked.
Just missing the cut were:
A Home for Bird by Philip Stead
The more I read it, the more I love it. This has been the number one grower for me in 2012. Cuckoo! Cuckoo!
Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Jon Klassen
I’ve definitely shouted my love for this book lately, and second graders also thought it was one of the best.
Unspoken by Henry Cole
While some second grade students needed a bit of guidance to grasp all the subtlety of this book, they immediately recognized the stunning illustrations.