Kids + Teens

Two Mocks in One Week

What a delicious week I’ve had! I’ve been lucky enough to attend both a Mock Newbery and a Mock Caldecott this week. It makes me so happy to have an excuse to read some of the best and most-discussed books of the year, and to have a chance to discuss them with smart, like-minded people.

CHRONICLE’S MOCK CALDECOTT: Thursday, January 18, 2012

It has been a busy week for the Children’s Group here at Chronicle: we had an original art show with the rest of the company to share some of the original art we’ll raffle off at ALA, everyone has been making last minute preparations for ALA, and we received the wonderful announcement that Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site topped the NYT bestseller list yesterday at #1. Still, we took the time to slow down and talk about some of the best picture books of the year. We got cozy on the couches in the library, ate chocolate, and talked books.

Here Children’s Design Director, Kristine Brogno, and Children’s Senior Production Coordinator, Wendy Thorpe, discuss one of our favorites, I Want My Hat Back.

We started by going over the terms and criteria, and talking about how the actual committee works. Then we discussed each book by following the CCBC discussion guidelines. Although we’re so used to talking about submissions, acquisitions, and works-in-progress together, I wasn’t sure how it would feel to be arguing over real, published books with colleagues, and I certainly didn’t know whether we’d agree. I have to say I was surprised at how much we agreed on the shortlist! That isn’t to say that we didn’t argue a bit. The arguing is the fun part!

Here is the shortlist for Chronicle’s Mock Caldecott.

THE SHORTLIST:*

GRANDPA GREEN by Lane Smith

BALLOONS OVER BROADWAY by Melissa Sweet

I WANT MY HAT BACK by Jon Klassen

ME… JANE by Patrick McDonnell

WHERE’S WALRUS? by Stephen Savage

MOUSE & LION by Rand Burkert and illustrated by Nancy Ekholm Burkert

UNDERGROUND by Shane W. Evans

STARS by Mary Lyn Ray and illustrated by Marla Frazee

DRAWING FROM MEMORY by Allen Say

THE HOUSE BABA BUILT by Ed Young

NAAMAH AND THE ARK AT NIGHT by Susan Campbell Bartoletti and illustrated by Holly Meade

*We decided not to consider any of our own books because, well, we might be a bit biased.

Here is editor Melissa Manlove in the process of tallying the votes.

OUR RESULTS:

Medal: BALLOONS OVER BROADWAY by Melissa Sweet

Honor: I WANT MY HAT BACK by Jon Klassen

No one had anything negative to say about Balloons Over Broadway—always the sign of a book to watch for! It seemed like Melissa Sweet really immersed herself in the world of the book, making puppets and collecting relevant original sources for her collages. And we had some amazing discussion about how deceptively simple the illustrations are for I Want My Hat Back. That book holds up so well to rereading—it makes me laugh every time! Underground and Grandpa Green were very close runners-up, but we decided just to name one honor book.

It is interesting to see what other Mock Caldecott groups have come up with. The Horn Book has started a blog this year called “Calling Caldecott” in which they discuss and debate the contenders. Here are the results of their online Mock. And here some results from other Mock Caldecotts around the country.

When I lived in Boston I had a beloved group of girlfriends (children’s writers, editors, teachers) who would have a Mock Caldecott every year. This year their shortlist was much longer than ours at 36 titles! So I won’t list them all here. But they gave the medal to Swirl by Swirl, with honors to A Nation’s Hope and Perfect Square. I’m fascinated to find that there was no overlap between our winners! It makes me wonder what would have happened if we had included some other titles on our shortlist: Blue Chicken, Blackout, and Swirl by Swirl in particular, but also, of course, Brother Sun, Sister Moon, our very own Caldecott hopeful!

HEAVY MEDAL MOCK NEWBERY: Monday, January16, 2012

I also attended the Heavy Medal Mock Newbery at the Rockridge library on Martin Luther King Day. It is run by Nina Lindsay (Supervising Librarian of Children’s Services for the Oakland Public Library and a 3-time Newbery committee member) and Jonathan Hunt (a school librarian, a Horn Book reviewer, and 1-time Newbery committee member). You can follow their thoughts on the Newbery on their blog through School Library Journal from September to January. They always get some great debate going!

The shortlist provided some good challenges in terms of criteria: we had five books on the list that were part of a series (the criteria states that “the book must be a self-contained entity, not dependent on other media… for its enjoyment”), and all but one title had illustrations (the criteria states that “the committee must make its decision primarily on the text… illustrations, overall design of the book, etc., may be considered when they make the book less effective”).

Here is the shortlist for the Heavy Medal Mock Newbery.

THE SHORTLIST:

THE ADVENTURES OF SIR GAWAIN THE TRUE by Gerald Morris

AMELIA LOST by Candice Fleming

HEART & SOUL by Kadir Nelson

I BROKE MY TRUNK by Mo Willems

THE MONEY WE’LL SAVE by Brock Cole

A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness

OKAY FOR NOW by Gary Schmidt

PENDERWICKS AT POINT MOUETTE by Jeanne Birdsall

THE TROUBLE WITH MAY AMELIA by Jennifer Holm

WONDERSTRUCK by Brian Selznick

We talked about hugely ambitious books we loved, like Heart & Soul and Okay for Now, but that also felt flawed for various reasons. We talked about the challenges of comparing shorter texts, like picture books, with longer texts like Okay for Now.

After three rounds of balloting (and really we could have gone another couple of rounds, but ran out of time), here is what we came up with:

OUR RESULTS:

Medal:

AMELIA LOST by Candice Fleming

Honors:

A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness

I BROKE MY TRUNK by Mo Willems

These were two wonderful Mocks! I feel really grateful to be surrounded by such enthusiastic readers.

Any predictions for what will happen come Monday? I’ll be watching in my pajamas from home before heading in to work. Yes, it starts at 5:45 our time… Believe me, I wouldn’t get up that early for almost anything else. I can’t wait!

Ariel Richardson
Editorial Assistant, Chronicle Books

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2 Comments

  • godotchris January 21, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    I would love for Balloons Over Broadway to win (and not just because I have a signed copy). I don't see how anything bad could be said about the book. And who doesn't love a parade?

    I hope A Monster Calls wins. That book gets grief in a way I have never seen. It was the best book I read last year, hands down. And the illustrations are amazing too.

    Reply

  • Ariel Richardson January 23, 2012 at 11:08 am

    I agree! Sad A Monster Calls didn't get any recognition this morning.

    Reply

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