100 Scope Notes
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2015 Caldecott Medal Predictions

The last time I made Caldecott predictions, I went 2 for 5. Any time I can get more than one, I’m happy. But I refuse to stop until I am able to pick them all.

You can therefore count on me doing Caldecott predictions every year.

And if you’re into this stuff, you need to check out the predictions over at A Fuse #8 Production (it appears we’re sort of on the same page this time around).

Here are my picks for 2015 Caldecott glory:

Caldecott Medal Prediction: Bad Bye, Good Bye by Deborah Underwood; illustrated by Jonathan Bean

I just can’t get over the illustrations in this book. The style suits the story in a way no other book in 2014 can match. Bean’s artwork expertly conveys a sense of motion while portraying the feelings of unease that come with moving. Even the endpapers (dark gray in the beginning, sunny yellow in the end) serve the story. Because it nails the big picture and all the details, this is my Caldecott Medal pick.

Caldecott Honor Prediction: Draw! by Raul Colon

The indelible cover image sends the message: this is a book you won’t forget. The story makes good on this promise. Inside it’s spread after skillfully executed spread – beautifully composed and flowing from one wordless page to the next. The calm of a pack of milling zebras, the excitement of galloping giraffes, the humor of a group of monkeys – all the emotions are there on the page. I predict Honor.

Caldecott Honor Prediction: The Farmer & the Clown by Marla Frazee

This wordless book seems like a consensus-builder to me. The one that everyone finds endearing. This is because the story (of an old farmer who takes in a little clown separated from his circus troop) is depicted with honesty and humor, rather than heartstring-tugging manipulation. It’s a tough balancing act, and one that relies entirely on the illustrations. Because of this, I’m thinking Caldecott Honor.


Caldecott Honor Prediction: Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Jon Klassen

If The Farmer and the Clown is a consensus builder, Sam & Dave Dig a Hole is the other side of the coin. It’s a book that (due to the ambiguous ending) some folks just can’t get behind. But it’s also a book that gets more artistically impressive every time you read it. It’s sophistication rewards repeat readings. Although it’s the pick I am least confident about coming true, I’m predicting a late surge to Honor status.

What do you think? Will these predictions come true? Be sure to watch the 2015 ALA Youth Media Awards (including the Caldecott Medal) and find out. From the ALA website:

The announcement of the 2015 Youth Media Awards will take place at 8:00 a.m. Central time on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015, during the ALA Midwinter Meeting & Exhibition in Chicago.

Join us for a live webcast of the press conference or follow I Love Libraries on Twitter and Facebook to be among the first to know the 2015 winners. The official hashtag for the 2015 Youth Media Awards is  #ALAyma.

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. Wow, what is wrong with the Right Word, which is just about the first book to come to my mind? (although the rest of these picks are just fine). I am also holding out hope for Christopher Myers’ Firebird and Yuyi Morales’ Viva Frida.

    • Travis Jonker says

      Oh man would I be happy to see The Right Word get in on the action!

    • Patricia Dean says

      I am also a fan of The Right Word, and the illustrations are absolutely incredible. Sweet tells the story so vividly through her illustrations. I vote for it to be #1. I also like Quest and Draw. Round 2 for me includes the Magnificent Thing, Farmer and the Clown, and Pett’s book The Girl and the Bicycle. I haven’t seen Bad Bye Good Bye, and will certainly give t a good perusal on your recommendation.
      I am not a fan of Klassen…missing the hype.

  2. Travis, you have made some excellent predictions here, methinks. But i must agree with Ed that it is difficult to imagine Melissa Sweet not ending up in the winner’s circle in some capacity. I adore both her books, but it does appear that THE RIGHT WORD has more traction at this point.

    I also believe in view of what I’ve seen and heard that these are serious contenders for at least an honor:

    Grandfather Gandhi
    The Iridescence of Birds
    A Letter for Leo
    Sam and Dave Dig A Hole
    Viva Frida

    There are of course many other books I champion, but so do you, and this post is ‘predictions’ not personal choices.

    I am thinking it will come down to THE FARMER AND THE CLOWN and BAD BYE GOOD BYE for the gold. I like both equally, but feel the committee will give Frazee the top prize after two previous honors (I know voting isn’t supposed to consider that, but it is there nonetheless).

    Then I see GOOD BYE BAD BYE winning an honor, and then (hopefully) four more honors. I always think big. We can hope, no? Ha! THE RIGHT WORD would be another honor. And what to do with DRAW, which is most accomplished but missing an emotional spear for me. I’ll sort it out at some point. I will predict GRANDFATHER GANDHI, A LETTER FOR LEO and THE IRRIDESCENCE OF BIRDS for the other honors, but DRAW may well be in like flint as you say.

    Somehow I feel there MUST be an African-American book in there, and especially this year with so many masterful ones. Heck, there should be more than one. But how do we pick from these?:

    Little Melba and Her Big Trombone
    Harlem Hellfighters
    A Dance Like Starlight
    All Different Now

    I continue to pray for Wendell Minor and his three masterful books, Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads, The Mayflower, Maple, Mama Built a Little Nest, Qust, Winter Bees, My Teacher is a Monster, Gaston, Henny and others (I have talked to much as it is I know, and I apologize for that), but bottom line is that I do see THE FARMER taking the top prize, with the Underwood/Bean collaboration definitely in hot pursuit, with Melissa Sweet making claim to an honor with the Bean.

  3. Oh and I must say how great would it be if one of my supreme personal choices of the year, HUGO AND THE BEAR would finish among the winners? Exquisite book, that one!

  4. Stacy Dillon says

    Have You Seen My Dragon!!

  5. My third grade students have their highest hopes on Ivan The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla, Quest, and Maple. They also chose Sam and Dave, The Adventures of Beekle, and Sparky!

  6. Julie Corsaro says

    I was in a bookstore this weekend and asked about my predictions for Caldecott. I pulled out the same four books!!! I also got a little pushback about THE RIGHT WORD, which I’ve been thinking about more for Sibert.