I know the Caldecott is given for art, but I can’t help considering the story as well. While I could appreciate the illustrations in this year’s contenders, some of them didn’t grab me as a book, and I was pretty sure wouldn’t excite kids (sorry, Philip and Erin Stead). Here are five that I appreciated on all levels:
Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis. Published by Candlewick Press.
With its invented language and complex insect storyline, Du Iz Tak? was hard to beat for sheer fun. Candlewick keeps pushing the envelope, sometimes more successfully than others, but this one hit the mark.
The Night Gardener by Terry Fan, illustrated by Eric Fan. Published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers.
A gorgeously-illustrated book about making a difference through topiary? What’s not to like?
Miracle Man: The Story of Jesus by John Hendrix. Published by Abrams Books for Young Readers
Jesus was a man with a message, and I love how the words of some of those messages are woven into the large, occasionally dramatic illustrations.
Before Morning by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beth Krommes. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
The brief, poetic text and scratchboard illustrations work together perfectly to capture the way a snowstorm can change the world overnight.
Radiant Child by Javaka Steptoe. Published by Little, Brown.
Here’s the one book on the list I’d be hesitant to put in my elementary library. The details of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s life are somewhat harrowing, but the illustrations are beautiful and pay homage to his art.