2023 Caldecott Medal Predictions
Of my four predictions last year, two received Caldecott hardware. So let’s review my recent Caldecott prediction successes/failures
2020 – 0-3
2021 – 1-4
2022 – 2-4
I like how this trend is going. Here are my predictions for 2023 Caldecott glory.
Caldecott Medal Prediction:
Hot Dog by Doug Salati
These are predictions. So I’m trying to get in the head of a Caldecott committee member, and also look at some of the more nebulous factors that committee members don’t consider, yet I think still might have an effect.
Firstly, getting in the head of a committee member. If you read the Caldecott criteria, Hot Dog checks so many of the boxes, particularly “pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept”. The text and illustrations weave together seamlessly, with (and I think the Caldecott committee will like this) the illustrations carrying most of the storytelling load. Add to this the fact that the artwork is often breathtakingly beautiful, and you have a book that committee members can hang their hat on with pride.
Secondly, the nebulous factors. Salati is fairly new on the scene, and clearly an illustrator to watch. I might be wrong, but I think there is a subconscious desire for aficionados in any field to say “Hey, have you seen this?” And Salati’s remarkable author/illustrator debut is a great opportunity to do that.
Caldecott Honor Prediction:
Farmhouse by Sophie Blackall
In a year full of masterfully illustrated picture books, how does a Caldecott committee member determine which is the most distinguished? Committee members want to be able to point to evidence. Of course there’s the ways in which the book addresses the Caldecott criteria, but does anything else come into play?
How about the story behind the art? Because once you hear the story behind the art in Farmhouse, you’ll never forget it. It’s evident that this artwork has deep meaning for the creator. It’s evident that this artwork is unique, historical, and incredibly time-consuming. It’s evident that this artwork is friggin’ gigantic. If you’re a Caldecott committee member and two books are equally lovely to look at, wouldn’t the story behind the art be the deciding factor? I’m not saying that committee members consciously think this – in fact they probably don’t, but I believe it might play a role in Farmhouse earning a Caldecott honor.
Caldecott Honor Prediction:
Gibberish by Young Vo
Okay, you just have to appreciate what Young Vo does here for a minute. The guy tells the story of overcoming a language barrier – something that naturally occurs verbally or in text – in a way that feels fresh and visually inventive. Because you can SEE Dat’s confusion and frustration, you can instantly FEEL it.
The story wins you over, but the story is told more through the art than the text, making this book one that I believe the Caldecott committee with want to rally around.
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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 email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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