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In Which I Help Choose the Winner of the Caldecott Medal

February 24, 2015 at 11:45 AM

A year and a half ago, I received an invitation to serve on the 2015 Caldecott Medal Selection Committee. The Caldecott is one of the most prestigious and well-known prizes in children's literature, awarded every year to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book. The Caldecott has recognized enduring classics like Make Way for Ducklings, Where the Wild Things Are, and The Polar Express. I jumped at the chance to serve on the committee.

This led to one of the most interesting and busy years of my life. Throughout the last year, I spent hours upon hours--once the fall hit, almost all of my spare time--reading, studying, taking notes, and discussing the hundreds of eligible books. I dragged bags of picture books and books about picture books on trips to the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Maine, and the Poconos. Wherever I went, the books went with me, and I read books to anyone who visited my home. Examining artists’ representations of the world made me look more closely at the world around me, noticing the precise way the colors and the light played out in a sunset, for instance, or the ever-changing hue and opaqueness of water. I spent more time staring at the sky this past year than I have since I was a little girl.

This is the gift of immersion and repetition and contemplating beauty. I had long hoped to serve on the Caldecott Committee as a way to leave my mark on IMG_2095.JPGthe literature that has meant so much to me. Instead, the books left their mark on me, the way they always have. After a year of reading independently, a few weeks ago, the fifteen members of the committee went to Chicago to spend three intensive days in meetings talking about a year’s worth of books, examining the award criteria, and coming up with our selections, which I am happy to share with you. They are:

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, written and illustrated by Dan Santat

Nana in the City, written and illustrated by Lauren Castillo
The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art, illustrated by Mary GrandPré, written by Barb Rosenstock    
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole, illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett
Viva Frida, written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales
The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus, illustrated by Melissa Sweet, written by Jen Bryant    
This One Summer, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki, written by Mariko Tamaki

 If you’d like to learn more about Caldecott:

  • My co-committee member and friend Angela Reynolds wrote a great post about our experience here.
  • You can see a montage video of our committee and other awards committees making the calls to the winners here. This is such an unforgettable part of this process.
  • Our winner and honors were surprising to people and have stirred up some discussion. You can read more about that here and here and here.

And, of course, you can always e-mail, stop by, or call to ask me about it. I love to talk about picture books.

Best wishes,
Adrienne Furness


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