Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Mock Caldecott Panel

Today’s Mock Caldecott panel consisted of eighteen pre-service teachers enrolled in a junior block literature class studying children’s books, particularly picture books and picture book art. There were enough books on each table to facilitate one book per student and plenty of time given for discussion amongst individual groups. Handouts accompanying the books included Caldecott medal criteria from ALSC, the Association of Library Services to Children, a listing of each book being considered detailing a webliography of illustrator sites, and a library pathfinder of previous Caldecott winners. Additionally, every book presented met basic criteria of being published in 2007 and having an illustrator who are residents of the United States.

The class arrived in the library mid-morning and were seated at tables in four groups, two groups of four and two groups of five, charged with the task of selecting one of the books on their table as their choice for best picture book. Eighteen titles (see Mock Caldecott early choices and Mock Caldecott part 2), each published in 2007, were considered as possible contenders for the award. The original field was narrowed to five; one selected the winner with others awarded honor distinction.

Selected by the panel were:

Catching the Moon - Top vote
Stick & How Many Mice - Tied for second

Discussions concerning individual selections were increasingly in-depth; students were very involved with the type of medium used, if there were any computer-generated elements within the illustration, and the various textures created by use of multiple mediums within the book. A short synopsis of comments regarding each title follows:

  • Catching the Moon - Illustrated by Chris Sheban
    Illustrations were captivating; use of the moon as a character within the book was charming; facial features of the fisherwoman and the moon were revealing and emotional; the moon "glowed" within each illustration, even his footsteps when leaving the fisherwoman's house glowed; the fantasy elements during the night time visits were especially moving; and most thought even though the story may have been less than steller, the illustrations moved worked beautifully within the confines of the tale.

  • Stick - Illustrated by Steven Breen
    This almost wordless picture book followed somewhat of a graphic novel, comic book format; humor was wonderfully depicted throughout; sense of wonder little "Stick" had throughout his adventure was apparant; details such as seeing reflections of Stick's lunch in his eyes and the characters he meets along the way were astonishing; the illustrator did not "miss a step" when adding to each pane as the story progressed; colors were great; and the ending "glowed."

  • How Many Mice - Illustrated by Michael Garland
    Illustrations had great depth; different textures were detailed within various pages, specifically the corn and the fish; choice and use of color was astonishing; and each individual mouse had it's own personality. Additionally, as pre-service teachers the panel was impressed with math elements woven into the story making it both visually appealing and useful for the classroom.

This is the first time in the five years I have been facilitating a Mock Caldecott discussion that the student panel selected books that were personal favorites of mine. I also found it interesting that they did not choose books by some of the more well-known illustrators such as David Diaz, Betsy Lewin, Jerry Pinkney, E.B. Lewis, or Jan Spivey-Gilchrist(I was disappointed hers did not make the cut). To me this means they were looking at the project as a whole, as opposed to making safe selections. Time will tell if any of our books are even contenders.

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