Now in its 14th year, the Mock Caldecott is a joint endeavor between the English Department and the Children’s and Adolescent Literature Community (ChALC), one of our department student organizations, with support from the Manhattan Public Library (MPL). Pre-COVID, faculty, students, and community members would gather at MPL on a weekend in early December to read some of the top-reviewed picture books of the year and anticipate, through a modified selection process, which ones will receive recognition by the American Library Association the following month.
This year, given the continued effects of COVID-19, our Mock Caldecott will be virtual for a second year, with asynchronous and synchronous components to the event.
Since 1937, the Caldecott Medal has honored the “most distinguished American picture book for children published in the United States” in the previous calendar year, taking its name from Randolph Caldecott (1846-1886), a noted English artist and illustrator. Since 1980, a committee appointed by the American Library Association (ALA) brings together fifteen librarians, university educators, and reviewers to select a winner and as many honor books as the committee sees fit. Their decision is a highlight of the ALA Mid-Winter Meeting each January.
As of 11:00am on December 7, we’ll be posting here the list of titles that made an initial cut for our Mock Caldecott, sharing links to video readings of the books:
- Bear Island by Matthew Cordell
- Bright Star by Yuyi Morales
- Circle Under Berry by Carter Higgins
- Everybody in the Red Brick Building by Oge Mora
- A House by Kevin Henkes
- Inside Cat by Brendan Wenzel
- Mel Fell by Corey R. Tabor
- Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Pena (author) and Christian Robinson (illus)
- Nina: A Story of Nina Simone by Christian Robinson
- Off-Limits by Helen Yoon
- The Old Boat by Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey
- Outside, Inside by LeUyen Pham
- The People Remember by Ibi Zoboi (author) and Loveis Wise (illus)
- The People’s Painter by Cynthia Levinson (author) and Evan Turk (illus)
- The Rock from the Sky by Jon Klassen
- Strollercoaster by Matt Ringer (author) and Raul the Third and Elaine Bay (illus)
- Survivor Tree by Aaron Becker
- This Very Tree: A Story of 9/11, Resilience, and Regrowth by Sean Rubin
- Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre by Carole Boston Weatherford (author) and Floyd Cooper (illus)
- Watercress by Andrea Wang (author) and Jason Chin (illus)
- Wishes by Mượn Thị Văn (author) and Victor Ngai (illus)
- Wonder Walkers by Micha Archer
- The 1619 Project: Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renee Watson (author), Nikkolas Smith (illus)
Between December 7 and December 10, we invite you to review the videos and vote on your favorites at https://tinyurl.com/chalcbookvote21. (Note: the survey will ask you to rank-order the titles listed above.).
Then, on Saturday December 11, 2:00-3:00pm CST, we’ll gather synchronously via Zoom to discuss together a short list of titles and vote in real time to select our 2021 Mock Caldecott winner and honor books.
What are the criteria for a Caldecott Award-winning picture book?
Be looking for “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed,” “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept,” “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept,” “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures,” and “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” The focus should be on “distinguished illustrations in a picture book” and “excellence of pictorial presentation for children” (and “not for didactic intent or for popularity”), so you can make a “decision primarily on the illustration,” as the ALA web site explains.
You can register for the discussion on Saturday Dec 11 at tinyurl.com/chalc2021mockcaldecott. (Education majors: as in past years, this event can count for “Service to the Profession: Professional Growth”!)
We hope to see you back here on December 7 to explore our long-list of contenders for the 2021 Mock Caldecott and vote on your first-round favorites — and then, on December 11, join us for discussion, debate, and a final vote!
— Karin Westman, Department Head / Faculty Advisor for ChALC