There are some years when I choose a book on this list with a sense of obligation, but not this year. I love all five of these books for a variety of reasons and would be very happy to see any of them win.
Farmhouse by Sophie Blackall
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Sophie Blackall already has two Caldecott Medals, so maybe the committee will decide to spread the wealth a little, but I don’t see how this book can’t be a top contender with its incredible artistry, craftsmanship, and circle-of-life story.
The Year We Learned to Fly by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López
Published by Nancy Paulsen Books
The Day You Begin by this team has become a first-day-of-school favorite, and I think this one is even better, reminding us of how we get through difficult times, with oblique references to 2020, both the pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement.
Action! How Movies Began by Meghan McCarthy
Published by Simon and Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
This may be more of a personal favorite than a top contender, but I was just wowed by the detailed renditions of movie scenes as well as the cohesive writing of many different topics in movie history.
Blue: A History of the Color as Deep as the Sea and as Wide as the Sky by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, ill. by Daniel Minter
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Caldecott, Sibert, King…there are many awards that could go to this fascinating and gorgeous picture book that covers so many different aspects of the color blue.
Gibberish by Young Vo
Published by Levine Querido
In my mock Caldecott, second and third graders voted this as their favorite. Kids loved the illustrations and how they show a friendship blossoming on Dat’s first day in an American school.
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My school librarian also suggested Blue and Gibberish, and my third graders also voted for Gibberish! I forget which other books, though. I’m especially curious about Farmhouse!