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2019 Geisel Award Predictions

Geisel 2019

Geisel is tough to predict. The criteria demand that we look for a book that “encourages and supports the beginning reader”, which sneakily rules out a lot of books in the K-2 space. And the fact that early readers and picture books are considered means the medal can cast a wide net. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been talking about a particular picture book’s Caldecott chances and someone will say “You know, I was thinking that would be a good Geisel candidate”, and I say “Oohh yeah! I hadn’t thought of that.”

All that is to lower the bar for this bit of information: I went 0 for 4 in my Geisel predictions last year. Although I did have three winners in my Also Look Out For . . . section, so I’m not calling it a total miss.

Here are my picks for 2019 Geisel glory.

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

*Edited* I initially had Meet Yasmin! as my Geisel Medal prediction, but was alerted to a possible ineligibility issue.

Geisel Medal Prediction

A Parade of Elephants

A Parade of Elephants by Kevin Henkes

Last year The Henk was shut out of Geisel with his book The Egg, so it’s time for some sweet, sweet revenge (I just love the thought of Kevin Henkes, by all accounts the kindest of humans, rubbing his hands together and laughing maniacally as he awaits the award announcement). Seriously though, this book completely inhabits the world of a child on the cusp of reading and guides them along.

Geisel Honor Prediction

See Zip Zap

See Zip Zap by David Milgrim

Milgrim has won a Geisel Honor in the past (for Go, Otto, Go!) and this first book in the Adventures of Zip series is clearly the work of a guy who knows the beginning reader audience. It does a lot with very limited vocabulary.

Geisel Honor Prediction

Vernon is on His Way


Vernon is On His Way: Small Stories by Philip C. Stead

It makes so much sense that Philip Stead would try his hand at an early reader. The texts for his picture books have always been so lovingly simple and straightforward. Stead mixes humor, action, and moments of quiet contemplation into a satisfying whole.

Geisel Honor Prediction

Can You Find Pup

Can You Find Pup? by Vincent X. Kirsch

Like all the Holiday House I Like to Read books, this one nails the nuts and bolts of a beginning reader text. Can You Find Pup? also adds the unexpected touch of seek-and-find elements, which only boosts the overall appeal.

Book That I Wanted to Win But is Sadly Too Long

Peter & Ernesto

Peter and Ernesto: A Tale of Two Sloths by Graham Annable

The Geisel criteria state that a books “may not be longer than 96 pages. Clocking in at 128, Peter & Ernesto are left out of contention. I’m bummed because this book checked a lot of Geisel boxes. Ah well.

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.