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2013 Mock Caldecott Results

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.

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. Karen MacPherson says

    Hi Travis — Fascinating results! Thanks for posting them. I noticed the absence of the much-heralded “This Is Not My Hat,” and was curious why you didn’t include it in the list of possibilities.

  2. Travis Jonker says

    That’s one of the more glaring omissions, I’d agree. I didn’t include it because I wanted to open up a slot for another illustrator (since Mr. Klassen is represented once with Extra Yarn). Although I didn’t subscribe to that line of thinking by including two Erin E. Stead books. But given her past Caldecott win, I thought it made sense to put both books on. I’m a ball of contradictions.

  3. So fun to see your choices. I’ll be posting our results later today. Chloe & the Lion was a top runner for us too. We considered quite a few of the same books you did, which isn’t surprising. There are great options out there this time around! We considered This is Not My Hat but no one voted it in the top five. We thought it was great but there were so many others that stood out above it this time.

  4. I agree with the second graders! One Cool Friend has a lot going for it, and it’s getting too little attention. Can I also plug Apple Cake by Julie Paschkis? Such great interplay between words and images, and flying about as far under the radar as you can get without being a rock squirrel. You know, as opposed to a flying squirrel.

  5. Very interesting! I love the book choices and the results. One Cool Friend is a favorite at our house and was a huge hit when I read it to my 2nd grade library class a few weeks ago. I’d like this outcome in the real Caldecotts.

  6. Travis,

    Awesome results! I especially love seeing the great variety of Mock Caldecott winners through various blogs of teacher librarian colleagues, my school being no exception. The variety of mediums employed in your students’ top picks is impressive and I think it’s awesome to have your 2nd graders fall so deeply for these great reads!


    – Matthew

  7. YAY! You picked Red Knit Cap Girl too!!! I hope it wins!!!

  8. The only thing missing….our awesome bulletin board with the cool award stickers you put on it. ;)

  9. When I first read One Cool Friend last spring, my first thought was Caldecott all the way…but I also have a terrible knack for predictions. But, there it is.

  10. I wish every school/district did this! What a great way to get the “passive observer” students to become more involved and interested in the process of picture books! Thanks for sharing!

  11. I have always done a Caldecott Unit with my 2nd graders with the mock election being the culminating activity but ilove how you included the classroom teachers. Our district does a mock Newbery district wide at the middle school level but I would love to make the mock Caldecott district wide at the elementary level. With budget cuts we have eliminated so many of our fun activities but this would be an easy one to introduce.
    Just a quick share–as part of my unit, the students are asked to independently read three Caldecott books and turn in a reading log stating which book they liked the best and why. I also incorporated the Visible Thinking strategy See, Think, Wonder into our Caldecott discussions this year and it really added another dimension to our conversations.

  12. We just tallied our results for our own mock Caldecott here in MA. We read the same 16 books plus I added This is Not My Hat and Z is for Moose. So, Z is for Moose won our classroom medal, and This is Not My Hat and Extra Yarn were honor books. It was a lot of fun! We can’t wait for Monday. Thanks for the suggestion.