100 Scope Notes
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2022 Caldecott Medal Predictions

After a rare 0-3 showing in 2020, I came roaring back last year, going . . . 1-4. But hey – at least I got the winner right!

I’m looking to improve upon that number this time out. So here are my picks for 2022 Caldecott glory.

Caldecott Medal Prediction:

Watercress by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Jason Chin

Jason Chin brings his cinematic, painterly style to Andrea Wang’s autobiographical text, making this the most powerful picture book of the year. It’s also a master class in visual storytelling, as one spread subtly leads into the next. It provides plenty “Oh, and did you notice THIS?” illustration moments for the Caldecott committee to discover together, which I think will result in Watercress taking home the Medal.

Caldecott Honor Prediction:

Wishes by Muon Thi Van, illustrated by Victo Ngai

You hear it over and over again – Caldecott winning books contain artwork that doesn’t just illuminate the text, but carries a good chunk of the storytelling load. I can’t think of a better example of this than Wishes (and I ain’t the first person to say this). A poetic text that allows Victo Ngai’s sleek artwork to step into a starring role.

Caldecott Honor Prediction:

Strollercoaster by Matt Ringler, illustrated by Raúl the Third and Elaine Bay

It’s a small moment that Matt Ringler writes about in Strollercoaster: dad takes a grumpy child for a stroller ride to calm down. But the text, combined with Raúl the Third’s artwork (and Elaine Bay’s vibrant colors) creates the most joyous picture book of the year. Raúl’s endlessly detailed and inventive illustrations are a good bet to win over the Caldecott committee.

Caldecott Honor Prediction:

Mel Fell by Corey R. Tabor

Most books are bound on the left side. Mel Fell is bound on the top (a la 1996 Caldecott Honor winner Tops and Bottoms). But it’s not this unique design element that puts it on this list for me – it’s what Corey R. Tabor does with it. Clever and beautiful (check out those layers), it’s the rare picture book that plays with the format while keeping the visual narrative front and center. I see the Caldecott committee members getting enthusiastic about this book, carrying it to an Honor.

Which books do you think will win Caldecott this year?

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. Sharon Verbeten says

    I 100% agree with Watercress; easily my fave of the year. So beautifully rendered, in text and illustrations. Love Jason Chin!

  2. Aryssa Damron says

    Watercress is my pick this year too!

  3. Cara Byrne says

    These are excellent picture books, but I hope the medal goes to _Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre_. Floyd Cooper deserves a Caldecott for this book!

  4. Mary Ann Scheuer says

    I’m so happy to see you honoring Wishes. A beautiful, moving book. I love the style, lines and colors.

  5. Amanda McCoy says

    I’m hoping/predicting Mel Fell will take the medal. It’s a student favorite and is far more than a one-trick pony. Tabor uses the format chosen to execute some master storytelling that challenges the reader’s concept of what a setting entails. My heart sings on the few occasions when kids and adults pick the same book and I think this is a year it should happen.

    As for honor medals, my votes go to Wishes and Watercress. I also feel there is a lot of stellar work going on in Milo Imagines the World that I would personally like to see recognized. After SEVERAL of my students called out Stroller Coaster as a book aimed at an adult audience, well….I can’t disagree with them.

  6. Colby Sharp says

    Much smaller list than your NYTs predictions…

  7. Kathleen Cusick says

    I am delighted to see your picks, they are all in my Mock!! I hope you’re right, although I agree with the comment above about Mel Fell, that’s my pick!! Watercress and wishes are magnificent as well.

  8. WATERCRESS was my absolute favorite (and I still adore it! and hopes it wins one of the medals)…………….until I secured my copy of BRIGHT STAR by Yuyi Morales, which is surely one of the most moving and beautiful picture books in years.

    Also loving IT FELL FROM THE SKY by the Fans, big-time!

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