Thursday, February 22, 2018

Caldecott!!!! (plus poetry connections)

Our 2018 Caldecott Committee and our winning books

Calling the winning illustrators via speakerphone!
I've been celebrating my Caldecott experience for over a week now! What a treat to spend a year poring over picture books published in 2017 and then a whole weekend behind closed doors talking in-depth with 14 other people who love picture books as much as I do!  Just WOW! 
In case you haven't seen the results, we chose Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell as the medal winner! It's such a beautiful, wordless book perfect for sharing with a child on your lap or a whole group during story time. And because, it's wordless, I can envision pairing it with poems, too! For example, selections from some of these winter-themed poetry collections would help set the stage:

Poetry to Pair with Wolf in the Snow
Florian, Douglas. 1999. Winter Eyes. New York: Greenwillow.
Frost, Robert. 1978/2001. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. Ill. by Susan Jeffers. New York: Dutton.
Gerber, Carole. 2008. Winter Trees. Ill. by Leslie Evans. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge. 
Quattlebaum, Marie. 2005. Winter Friends. Ill. by Hiroe Nakata. New York: Bantam.
Yolen, Jane. 1998. Snow, Snow:  Winter Poems for Children. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills.

We chose four Caldecott honor books:
Grand Canyon by Jason Chin

Crown by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James
Big Cat, Little Cat by Elisha Cooper
A Different Pond by Bao Phi, illustrated by Thi Bui

More poetry connections?
The gorgeous nonfiction book, Grand Canyon by Jason Chin (also a Sibert honor book) was one of our honor selections and is a book to pore over for the sweeping landscape, detailed nature drawings, and imagined history. There's a new poetry anthology coming out this year that might work perfectly alongside this book (The Poetry of Us), as well as several others:

Poetry to Pair with Grand Canyon
Bates, Katharine Lee. 2003. America the Beautiful. Ill. by Wendell Minor. New York: Putnam.
Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 2000. My America: A Poetry Atlas of the U.S. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Hopkins, Lee Bennett, Ed. 2002. Home to Me: Poems Across America. New York: Orchard.
Lewis, J. Patrick. (Ed.) 2018. The Poetry of Us: More Than 200 Poems about the People, Places and Passions of the United States. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic. 
Panzer, Nora, Ed. 1994. Celebrate America in Poetry and Art. New York: Hyperion. 
Siebert, Diane. 2006. Tour America: A Journey through Poems and Art. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle.

We're so excited that Crown by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James has also been recognized with other awards, including a NEWBERY honor for author Derrick Barnes, as well as a Coretta Scott King author honor for him and illustrator honor for Gordon C. James. Impressive, right? It's a celebratory anthem to the power of the haircut and the barber shop in African American life and identity-- full of energy and power and hope. Plus, it's subtitled "An Ode to the Fresh Cut." It begins:

"When it's your turn in the chair,
you stand at attention and forget about
who you were when you
walked through that door.

You came in as a lump of clay,
a blank canvas, a slab of marble.
But when my man is done with you,
they'll want to post you up in a museum!

That's my word."

Connect Crown with poems from some of these wonderful books, especially Crowning Glory by Joyce Carol Thomas:

Poetry to Pair with Crown
Brooks, Gwendolyn. 1956/1984. Bronzeville Boys and Girls. New York: HarperCollins.
Giovanni, Nikki. Coll. 2008. Hip Hop Speaks Children. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks.
Greenfield, Eloise. 2008. Brothers and Sisters: Family Poems. New York: Amistad/HarperCollins.
Grimes, Nikki. 1994. Meet Danitra Brown. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard. 
Grimes, Nikki. 1999. My Man Blue: Poems. New York: Dial.
Hughes, Langston. 2009. My People. Ill. by Charles R Smith Jr. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Myers, Walter Dean. 1995. Glorious Angels:  A Celebration of Children. New York: HarperCollins.  
Myers, Walter Dean. 2011. We are America; A Tribute from the Heart. Ill. by Christopher Myers. HarperCollins.
Steptoe, Javaka. Ed. 1997. In Daddy's Arms I Am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers. New York: Lee & Low.
Thomas, Joyce Carol. 2002. Crowning Glory. New York: HarperCollins. 
Thomas, Joyce Carol. 2008. The Blacker the Berry. Illus. by Floyd Cooper. New York: Amistad.

Next up? 
Big Cat, Little Cat by Elisha Cooper
This masterful picture book is about cats, yes, but it's so much more! And I found the lyrical, perfectly paced language so poetic, too. It begins:

"There was a cat
who lived alone.
Until the day
a new cat came. 
The cat showed the new
cat what to do.
When to eat,
when to drink,
where to go,
how to be,
when to rest."

See what I mean? And each phrase is spread across each page along with elegant, simple, bold drawings in thick black outlines of two special cats. Do not miss this book. Trust me! And of course there are TONS of poems about cats to pair with this book. Here is just a sampling:

Poetry to Pair with Big Cat, Little Cat
Crawley, Dave. 2005. Cat Poems. Honesdale: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
Florian, Douglas. 2003. Bow Wow Meow Meow: It’s Rhyming Cats and Dogs. San Diego: Harcourt Brace.
Franco, Betsy. 2009. A Curious Collection of Cats. Ill. by Michael Wertz. San Francisco: Tricycle Press.
Kirk, Daniel. 2007. Cat Power. New York: Hyperion.
Lach, William. Ed. 1999. Curious Cats in Art and Poetry for Children. 1999. New York: Atheneum Books.
Rosen, Michael J. 2015. The Maine Coon’s Haiku and Other Poems for Cat Lovers. Somerville, MA: Candlewick. 
Schertle, Alice. 1999. I am the Cat. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard.
Wardlaw, Lee. 2011. Won Ton; A Cat Tale Told in Haiku. Ill. by Eugene Yelchin. Henry Holt.
Wardlaw, Lee. 2015. Won Ton and Chopstick: A Cat and Dog Tale Told in Haiku. Ill. by Eugene Yelchin. New York: Holt.
Yolen, Jane. 1993. Raining Cats and Dogs. San Diego: Harcourt. 

And finally:
A Different Pond by Bao Phi, illustrated by Thi Bui
This beautiful picture book is part memoir, part graphic novel, and part father-son adventure and totally poignant and memorable. And the author, Bao Phi, is a... POET! A father and his young son make a fishing trip in the wee hours of the morning to catch their dinner, sharing the experience, as well as the father's memories of his past in Vietnam. The story begins:

"Dad wakes me quietly
so Mom can keep sleeping.
It will be hours before
the sun comes up."

and ends...

"And I will smile and nod,
and later, when we sleep,
we will dream of fish
in faraway ponds."

Poetry to Pair with A Different Pond
Frank, John. 2007. How to Catch a Fish. New York: Roaring Brook.
Grimes, Nikki. 1999. Hopscotch Love: A Family Treasury of Love Poems. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard.
Issa, Kobayashi. 2007. Today and Today. New York: Scholastic.
Livingston, Myra Cohn. Ed. 1989. Poems for Fathers. New York: Holiday House.
Mak, Kam. 2001. My Chinatown: One Year in Poems. New York: HarperCollins.
Park, Linda Sue. 2007. Tap Dancing on the Roof; Sijo Poems. New York : Clarion.
Wissinger, Tamera Will. 2013. Gone Fishing: A Novel in Verse. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Wong, Janet S. 1994. Good Luck Gold and Other Poems. New York: McElderry.
Wong, Janet S. 1996/2008. A Suitcase of Seaweed, and Other Poems. New York: Booksurge.

So, there you go!
Of course poetic connections are not part of the Caldecott selection criteria. Just in case you didn’t know, the Caldecott Medal is an award given annually by the Association for Library Service to children to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. The Caldecott committee focuses on the "excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed, in the pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept, the appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept, etc." But many picture books are so poetic, don't you think? The brevity and economy of language is part of the nature of the picture book medium. And of course many picture book collections are currently published in picture book form, too. 

Now that I have completed the process, I am once again at liberty to talk and write about all the picture books I love! Hallelujah! One of the biggest challenges last year was NOT talking and writing about picture books-- all the lovely poetry that was published in picture book form was "off limits" for me in 2017. ALSC is very mindful of any potential conflict of interest and I understand that completely. So, now I look forward to the ALA conference in New Orleans in June when these Caldecott artists will be honored. And I look forward to sharing more ideas for celebrating poetry as we move forward through 2018! 

Don't miss the Poetry Friday gathering hosted by Liz Steinglass this week. See you there!


jama said...

Fabulous post! Exciting to read about the winning books and to see the wonderful poetry connections. Calling the winners must have been the best. :)

Liz Steinglass said...

What an amazing experience! I'm so glad you got to be a part of it. I will have to go to my local independent bookstore and sneak a peak at all of them!

Terry Roper said...

Love the accessibility of the poetry matched with the award-winning books!
Great idea!!

Linda B said...

It's a wonderful list connecting poetry books to those honored. Thank you, lots of books I love and lots to look for!

Heidi Mordhorst said...

Very, VERY exciting indeed! I love your committee's choice, which also makes me think of that central moment in *Sylvester and the Magic Pebble* when the wolf sits on Sylvester the rock and "howls and howls because he [is] hungry."

*A Different Pond* also reminds me of *Owl Moon.* Would you say those go together?

Glad you are allowed to open your mouth again about picture books, Sylvia!

Kay said...

It is exciting! All of these books look so deserving of their honor, and I love all the poetic connections you include for each.

Sylvia Vardell said...

Thanks, y'all. Being on the Caldecott Committee was the dream of a lifetime! Fun to highlight those books AND make the poetry connections, of ours! And Heidi, I very much thought of SYLVESTER many times with this book-- same spirit! Connecting OWL MOON and A DIFFERENT POND is an interesting idea. I can definitely see some parallels. Always fun to make all these connections!

Christie Wyman said...

I am so excited to explore lots of these and share them with my Kindergarten poets. Your post is a valuable "to do" list. Congratulations on serving on the Caldecott Committee. How terribly exciting!

Ruth said...

What a great post! Thank you!

Catherine Flynn said...

Serving on the Caldecott Committee is such a labor of love! Many thanks to you and the other members of the committee for your dedication and hard work. Your choices are stellar! I love this post and all the poetry connections you've made, Sylvia. It makes be want to revisit past winner and create similar lists!

Brenda Harsham said...

Fabulous post. I love the pairings, and I've ordered a bunch of new books. Yay!

Michelle Kogan said...

What a rich collection, thank you for sharing them. It must have been a grand experience amongst all those books!