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2019 Caldecott Medal Predictions

Caldecott 2019

Last year I went 3 for 5. The year before that? 3 for 4. Before I crow about myself some more and totally displease the book award gods (rendering all future predictions incorrect) here are my picks for 2019 Caldecott glory.

Caldecott Medal Prediction


Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

Right book, right time, right creator: the amounts of “right” here are staggering. Matched only by the amounts of “self” in these illustrations. Morales keeps pushing artistically and Dreamers is the clearest example of this yet.

Caldecott Honor Prediction

Thank You Omu

Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora

When you think of an award as old as the Caldecott, you might be tempted to believe that it only rewards the established creators. People knock the Grammys for this all the time. And sure the well-known get theirs, but Caldecott is not entirely afraid of heralding an exciting new talent. Think of Erin E. Stead, Mo Willems, Jon Klassen, and others who received recognition early in their careers. Thank You, Omu! manages to be both timeless and fresh. No easy feat, especially for a newcomer to the form. I think the committee will want to champion this book.

Caldecott Honor Prediction

A Big Mooncake for Little Star

A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin

Sometimes we get lulled into a sort of daze by a great book creator. We put them in the “Great” box (because it’s warranted) and then go out to look for the next exciting thing (side note: and this, in a nutshell, is why sequels have a hard time winning Caldecott). But with this book, Grace Lin took an astonishing artistic leap and I think it’s enough to shake the committee out of their daze and see what’s right before their eyes.

Caldecott Honor Prediction

Hello Lighthouse

Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall

Notice how every detail in this book is not just considered (because pretty much every detail in every picture book is considered), but succeeds in adding a palpable depth and visual delight. The trim size, the case cover, the circle as a visual motif, the remarkable use of repetition – it’s all just undeniable.

Caldecott Honor Prediction

They Say Blue

They Say Blue by Jillian Tamaki

I’ve read this book with over 20 groups of kids now and it’s grown on me more than any other title this year. Mesmerizing in its depth and meditative beauty, They Say Blue features some of the most unforgettable two-page spreads of the year. Don’t underestimate the Caldecott committee importance of the unforgettable two-page spread. At this point I feel like it’s an absolute masterpiece and you’re not going to convince me otherwise (but you could convince me that the text deserves Newbery consideration).

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. Not to be all blog-pushy, but did you see Martha’s write-up at Calling Caldecott of THEY SAY BLUE? Ah, she captured it well. She made me see the book in all new ways, too!

  2. Just a note from The Bookies in Denver and an agreement with EVERYTHING you said about DREAMERS. Just a perfect book at a perfect time.

  3. All five are stupendous books of course. The big surprise here is the appearance of Thank You, Omi which I also adore. It seems most are agreeing on Dreamers for the gold, an i certainly wouldn’t dispute it. And I do agree with every word you invest on the Tamaki book.

    There are six books missing, any of which I think could land in the winner’s circle. They are:

    A House That Once Was
    Adrian Simcox Does Not Have a Horse
    Imagine (Colon)
    Julian is a Mermaid
    The Day You Begin

    I also would LOVE to see a big surprise materialize. In that category I am putting my wishes in for:

    The Wall in the Middle of the Book
    We Are Grateful
    The Stuff of Stars

    Anyway great predictions here! You did so well last year!

  4. Barbara McClintock’s Nothing Stopped Sophie would also seem to be a (deserved) major player.