A common thread I notice about these books is that each one stayed with me long after I read it. None of them has a long story, and some are almost wordless, but the illustrations were powerful enough to convey a message that resonates.
Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson
Published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons for Young Readers
Milo’s drawings show his changing perceptions of the people around him on the subway. Both he and the reader are in for some surprises as people–and their lives–turn out to be much different than our first impressions of them.
Bright Star by Yuyi Morales
Published by Neal Porter Books
Portraits of animals and children show the borderlands between Mexico and the United States, the environmental destruction of the current policies, and the hope for a brighter future. Yuyi Morales is overdue for a Caldecott.
Wishes by Muợn Thị Văn, illustrated by Victo Ngai
Published by Orchard Books
The book amazed me, with its list of wishes (“The night wished it was darker. The bag wished it was deeper.”) and its lush, detailed illustrations that tell the story of a family escaping Vietnam in the 1980’s and connect it to today’s refugees.
Dream Street by Tricia Elam Walker, illustrated by Ekua Holmes
Published by Anne Schwartz Books
A celebration of the Boston street that cousins Tricia Elam Walker and Ekua Holmes grew up on, with unforgettable portraits of the residents and their dreams.
Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Published by Carolrhoda Books
Caldecott, Newbery, Coretta Scott King, Siebert: what award isn’t this masterpiece being considered for? The structure of the story is so well-done, and the illustrations are so haunting, with people that seem to be looking at you from the page. A posthumous Caldecott award for Floyd Cooper, who died over the summer, would be a fitting tribute.
Click here for my Mock Caldecott 2022 product on Teachers Pay Teachers with these books and 17 more.