Monday, January 16, 2012

Picture Book Round-Up

It’s the season of anticipation: the ALA Youth Media Awards (including the Newbery and Caldecott) will be announced one week from today.  Most years, I have an opinion on the Newbery (the award for the most distinguished book for children published in the USA in the previous year) – and sometimes one of my picks shows up as one of the books that earns recognition.  I usually have favorites for the Printz (the teen book award) – but the Printz committee usually manages not only to completely disregard the books I would have chosen, but to choose books I have never even heard of.
Most years, I don’t have much of an opinion about the Caldecott – perhaps I will have a favorite, but will not feel qualified to predict a winner.  Part of this is that my training in evaluating art is rudimentary at best, and part is that I pay less attention to picture books than I do to novels.  I use lots of picture books in my work, and I have my favorites, but I rarely spend as much time with picture book new releases as I do with middle-grade or young adult novels.
This year is different.  This year, at my library, we decided to have a Mock Caldecott election.  The main part of planning for this program involved me spending a lot of time really considering the year’s crop of picture books.  I’m not sure, but it seems to me that this was a particularly good year in the picture book world.  Some years, there is a clear favorite (for instance, it seemed like nearly everybody wanted The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney to win back in 2009), but this is not one of those years.  There are certainly books that are getting a lot of buzz, but there’s no single book that seems to be on everyone’s lips.  So, based on my reading and research, here are my top five picture books from this year:
Brother Sun, Sister Moon by Katherine Paterson, illustrated by Pamela Dalton
Naamah and the Ark at Night by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, illustrated by Holly Meade
Perfect Square by Michael Hall
Say Hello to Zorro by Carter Goodrich
Where’s Walrus? by Stephen Savage
Of course, it's hard to choose a favorite (or even five favorites), and my choices may change between now and next week.  Even if the Caldecott committee doesn't choose any of these books, there are many others that I have looked at and really appreciate, and would love to see with a shiny sticker on the cover.
What about you, readers?  Any favorite 2011 picture books that you're rooting for as the awards roll around? 

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