I am determined to squeak this post in under the wire, as it were -- the ALA Youth Media Awards will be announced on Monday! Before then, let me briefly sing the praises of some of my favorite picture books of 2014!
The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee -- I'll be honest with you: I didn't want to like this book. The cover is so brown! (I'm predicting that, in a few decades, we'll look back on picture books from the teens and immediately recognize them by the prominence of sepia tones, but that's neither here nor there.) But the book won my heart with the pathos and humor, and the more I look at it, the more convinced I am that it is truly distinguished.
The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet -- These illustrations are so intricate, so eye-catching, and so perfectly attuned to the text and the subject matter of the book! I go back and forth among the titles I'm listing here as to which is my favorite, but I think I land most often on this one.
Sam and Dave Dig A Hole by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen -- This is one of those books that seems simple until you examine it a little more closely. What exactly happens at the end of the book? What does the dog know? These are just a couple of questions that can haunt readers long after the story is over. Creating a picture book with this kind of mystique is quite a feat!
Little Melba and Her Big Trombone by Katheryn Russell-Brown, illustrated by Frank Morrison -- This is just such a happy book. It makes me smile every time I page through it. This has been a particularly good year for picture book biographies, but to my mind, this is definitely one of the best.
Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Rick Allen -- Every page of this book of poetry is a delight to behold. I particularly like the way that the book subtly moves through winter, from the last fall leaves that make an appearance on the first, wordless spread, to the spring buds appearing on the mirroring spread at the end. And did I mention that it's a gorgeous book?
I try to limit myself to five books in these posts, but I'll throw in a few honorable mentions:
Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Christian Robinson -- Such fun! And of course I'm a sucker for dog stories and funny books, and this is both.
Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light -- This innovative counting book does interesting things with color and perspective.
Bad Bye, Good Bye by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Jonathan Bean -- Simple and honest, and the artwork really does a great job of amplifying the emotion of the story.
I'll stop there, though it's hard! I mentioned that I don't have a clear favorite, and it's also hard to pick a cutoff point for a list of favorites this year. I'd love to see some of these books scoop up big honors, but I think there are a lot of excellent books out there that I haven't mentioned here. What about you? Any last-minute picks for the Caldecott this year?