Ah, what the heck? Why not try to predict one of the most difficult to predict awards out there? Is the criteria for eligibility available? Not that I can find. Take this list with grains of salt accordingly.
But I’ve never seen anyone try to guess these, so again I ask you: what the heck? Maybe I’ll revisit this list when fall rolls around after I’ve seen more, but at this moment here are my predictions of what will be named a 2014 New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book.
Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan
What if a master impressionist painter made a children’s book? That’s how Rules of Summer comes across to me. To my eyes the cover alone channels Van Gogh’s final painting.
Grandfather Gandhi by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus; illustrated by Evan Turk
The connection between story and artwork is deep here. The bold three-dimensional collage paintings bring in elements of the text to create an immersive experience.
Baby Bear by Kadir Nelson
It seems like the buzz has quieted a bit around this book, but for my money it features some of the most stunning paintings of the year.
Three Bears in a Boat by David Soman
I remember reading a Ladybug Girl book where the title character is at the beach and being momentarily stunned by how well David Soman rendered water. Here he has a whole book’s worth of space to elaborate on that talent.
The Pilot and the Little Prince by Peter Sís
This list loves giving legends their due (see Sendak and Ungerer in 2013). Peter Sís gives Antoine De Saint-Exupery a treatment worthy of artistic hero worship.
Three Little Peas by Marine Rivoal
It seems like unexpected artistic techniques fare well on the Best Illustrated list, and this book takes etching to a whole different place. It’s the sort of book you open up and think, “how did the illustrator make these pictures?” Thankfully, there’s a whole page in the back that explains the process.
Where’s Mommy? by Beverly Donofrio; illustrated by Barbara McClintock
This companion to 2007′s Mary and the Mouse, the Mouse and Mary is as rich as illustration gets. Loaded with details, it’s artwork that makes you believe in this unlikely friendship between a girl and a mouse.
Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill
It’s been said before, but I concur – this is a colored pencil masterpiece.
The River by Alessandro Sanna
Here’s my left-field prediction (in that not many people have heard of it), but it’s also weirdly one of my biggest locks for Best Illustrated. I’m not sure if this is a children’s book. I’m not sure it isn’t. But I am sure you have not seen artwork like this before. Covering the four seasons along a river with no words – just page after page of beautiful little watercolor paintings. This post at Brain Pickings will give you a sense of what’s inside.
Good Bye, Bad Bye by Deborah Underwood; illustrated by Jonathan Bean
This is illustrated by the same guy who made Building Our House? The style is a bold departure that left me wondering how Bean pulled it off. Thankfully Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast has the answers. It’s artwork that becomes all the more impressive when you see how it was created.
So those are my picks – what are yours?