Congratulations to this year’s Caldecott medal winner Brian Floca for his picture book Locomotive! Each year, I am eager to see what picture book is chosen by the ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) to be the recipient of the Caldecott medal and what books are chosen as honor books.
If you are as intrigued by the process as I am, you may be interested in the following link that I originally posted back in 2011: http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/caldecottmedal/caldecottcomm/caldecottcommittee.cfm. Everything you ever wanted to know and more about the Caldecott medal and the awards process can be found there at the American Library Association’s extremely comprehensive site.
Locomotive (2013, Atheneum Books), written and illustrated by Brian Floca, showcases a very important and, in my opinion, very interesting time in American history: the building of the transcontinental railroad, the first railway that connected the east to the west and helped settle our great nation. The book is so detailed in its description of what is was like to ride and run the railroad back in the late 1800’s, you almost feel as if the author had been there personally. The illustrations too, done in watercolor, ink, acrylic, and gouache, are wonderfully detailed and a perfect complement to the text. You will learn a train load of fascinating facts if you read this book, for example, when traveling in mountainous areas where the train had to go uphill, two engines were used at the same time, attached together, in order to make the climb. And sometimes the engineer had to pull a handle to drop sand onto the tracks to aid in traction. Fascinating!
Flora and the Flamingo (2013, Chronicle Books), written and illustrated by Molly Idle, is one of three honor books this year. This is a wordless picture book that all fans of flamingos, dancing, and the color pink will love. It is beautifully illustrated and even contains some hidden flaps that create more opportunities to present the blossoming of an unusual friendship. The author worked as an artist for DreamWorks Feature Animation, and her skills shine through in this creative and sweet book that may have you dancing by the end.
Author and illustrator David Wiesner does it again with his Caldecott honor book Mr. Wuffles (2013, Clarion Books). Virtually wordless (unless you count the alien and ant dialogue), this super colorful, super fun, sci-fi picture book is out of this world! The watercolor and ink, graphic novel-like illustrations are bold and jump off the page. Cat owners will recognize their own cat in the humorous antics of the story’s feline antagonist. I like the interaction between the tiny alien heroes and their new insect friends. Kids will love believing that such a miniature world could really exist. My favorite element has to be the fact that the aliens wear different colors, perhaps representing captain, navigator, and crew. Nice touch!
Journey (2013, Candlewick Press), written and illustrated by Aaron Becker, is also an honor book this year. It’s easy to see why. The magical watercolor and ink illustrations transport readers to another world as they follow a young girl’s journey into the realm of her imagination and through the wordless pages. This book will leave you with a smile and the desire to take the journey all over again. The full-page spreads are worth the trip!