The best known awards given to children’s books were announced in January in Seattle. As most of you know, the Caldecott Medal is “awarded annually to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children published in English in the United States during the preceding year.”
This year it was given to David Wiesner for his wordless but sophisticated sea and fish-filled images that create an intriguing, open-ended narrative.
Flotsam(Clarion, 2006) was on many people’s short list for this honor. If you’ve seen frogs fly and pigs leave their traditional role with a wolf in hot pursuit over and through the pages of a book, well, you’ve met Wiesner’s other Caldecott Medal winning books. (Tuesday won the 1992 Medal, The Three Pigs(both Clarion) was awarded the 2002 gold.).
Will Flotsam become a classic like Keats’ Snowy Day, embraced by readers 40 years from now? Will the honor books, Gone Wild: An Endangered Animal Alphabet by David McLimans (Walker) and Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom, illustrated by Kadir Nelson and written by Carol Boston Weatherford (Jump at the Sun/Hyperion) appeal to future generations?
To “get” these books, really understand them, readers need to slow down and examine them, and then look again. In Flotsam, where do you go after the opening on the beach with the boy’s find? And though the structure is familiar, Gone Wild isn’t just any alphabet book; each letter presents a black & white cut-out of an endangered animal. Readers hear and see Harriet Tubman, sense her strength and bravery as they travel with her and her God on the Underground Railroad in Moses…. Who will really be able to cull meaning from these stunning books? It’s worth thinking about, and may indeed create some conversation.
There will be more on the Caldecott next time but for a complete listing of the Caldecott (and other award winners in 2007), visit ALA.