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2017 Geisel Award Predictions

Geisel Predictions

The Theodor Seuss Geisel award is hard to predict. I think the reason is because you think of the award as going to early readers (Fly Guy, Elephant & Piggie, Henry and Mudge, etc.) – and it does – but the committee often throws a curveball and gives an award to a picture book (the most recent winners include Supertruck by Stephen Savage and Waiting by Kevin Henkes). I’m usually looking at picture books with my Caldecott hat on and give an “oh yeah, I hadn’t thought of that” when someone mentions a picture book with Geisel potential.

But I’m trying anyway.

And if you into the Geisel, be sure to check out the Guessing Geisel blog.

Geisel Medal Prediction:


The Thank You Book by Mo Willems

It just feels right, doesn’t it?

Geisel Honor Prediction:


Snail & Worm: Three Stories About Two Friends by Tina Kügler

A bit of a picture book/early reader tweener, the dialog style and basic vocabulary work wonderfully for newly independent readers. Add to this the fact that each of the three stories have silliness and sweetness (and surprise) in equal measure, and you have a pretty appealing Geisel possibility.

Geisel Honor Prediction:


Go Otto Go by David Milgrim

This year a batch of Adventures of Otto books were released (or re-released) and something tells me maybe Otto will get some Geisel recognition. It’s a hunch, sure, but aside from a fun story, Go Otto Go is also the book on this list that checks the most “learning to read” boxes: short, simple sentences, gradual new word introduction, and word repetition.

Geisel Honor Prediction:

Good Night Owl

Good Night Owl by Greg Pizzoli

Pizzoli’s books are always well suited for this award (He won the 2014 Geisel Medal with The Watermelon Seed), and this one continues his streak of funny, engaging stories told in a way that works for beginning readers.

And also look out for . . .

I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of the following fine books get shiny stickers, either.


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. Are the Otto books eligible, since they are reprints?

    I hadn’t thought about They All Saw a Cat as a Geisel book (because of my picture book blindness) until the Guessing Geisel blog brought it up, but I’ve since read it 5,000 times to classrooms as part of our Mock Caldecott, and every time, I become more convinced that it makes a fabulous early reader.

    • Travis Jonker says:

      Hi Alys! Thanks for your comment – while Go Otto Go is not a reprint, a bunch of the Otto books out this year are. Thank you for clarifying this!

  2. Jonathan Hunt says:

    I love the PRINCESS IN BLACK books, but think they exceed the page limit for Geisel.

    I think both the Keller and Santat are strong possibilities–and, of course, the Willems.

    I could also go with Nanette’s Baguette, too . . .

    • Travis Jonker says:

      Hi Jonathan – thanks for bringing up page count. I’m with you on loving Princess in Black. The Geisel criteria says books must be no longer than 96 pages and Princess in Black clocks in at . . . 96 pages. So it should be eligible, which is a good thing.

  3. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Oops. I just checked, too, and you’re right. Still, it strikes me as a “chapter book” more than an easy reader. You?

    • I think Princess in Black is a definite possibility. The criteria for the award states that chapters are allowed, but not required. It all hinges on the way the committee interrupts the criteria. As Amanda Foulk writes in her post on Guessing Geisel, it all depends on how the committee defines “beginning reader” (http://guessinggeisel.blogspot.com/2016/10/could-princess-in-black-win-geisel.html).

      • Jonathan Hunt says:

        Thanks for the link. Having read the post, I know wholeheartedly agree. I guess I just assumed that since the series hadn’t already won every year of its publication that they weren’t easy readers. ;-)

      • Travis Jonker says:


    • Travis Jonker says:

      I definitely see it that way too. The thing that makes me see more of a possibility for it (and you know this) is that Mercy Watson won a Geisel honor in 2007 and that series is very similar in format to PiB

      • Oooo, I would be so happy if either of this year’s Princess in Black books won! (I like Takes a Vacation just a tiny tad better than Hungry Bunny Horde.) Hadn’t thought about it for Geisel, but have noticed that young readers love these books. Also, little ones who usually only have the attention span for a picture book will listen to the whole thing.

  4. I agree, Mercy Watson and PiB are kindred spirits for sure. But it’s been a few years since something longer and more complex was honored. Excited to see what the committee selects!

  5. Awesome list! I’d add Vera Brosgol’s LEAVE ME ALONE!