Predicting the Winner for Best Illustration

by Cassie Wefald

Predicting the Winner for Best Illustration

By Jennifer Bergen, Children’s Services Manager

Once again, K-State students studying children’s literature are hosting a Mock Caldecott voting session for Manhattanites. The real Caldecott medal is the prestigious American Library Association (ALA) award given to the illustrator of the “most distinguished” picture book of the year. That award will be announced January 28 at the ALA conference. But, if you admire the artistic quality found in many of today’s books for kids, join us for our own mock Caldecott discussion and voting session on December 1st. Below are a few of the titles we may be looking at:

Dreamers, written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales

Certain to win some awards this winter, Dreamers is a book everyone should experience. It is based on the author’s true story of immigrating from Mexico to the U. S. in the 1990’s, and a way to navigate this new world. A Kirkus review called Dreamers “a resplendent masterpiece,” and the gorgeous mixed-media paintings will cause readers to stop and ponder both the amazing art and the expressive text.  The magical moment when Yuyi discovers the public library is striking: “Suspicious. Improbable. Unbelievable. Surprising. Unimaginable. Where we didn’t need to speak, we only needed to trust.” Morales leaves readers with a feeling of hope, which is important for any type of dreamer. Check this title out now for free on the library’s Hoopla app to see the Dreamscape video version of the book, as well as the author’s autobiographical notes.

The Stuff of Stars by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Ekua Holmes

How would you illustrate the beginning of the universe and time? Holmes stretches herself as she accompanies Bauer’s powerful poetry to take us from nothingness to the very moment “YOU burst into the world.” Marbled swirls and splashes of paint progress to outlines of animals, planets, and finally people — “All of us the stuff of stars.” This book takes an abstract idea to the heart of the reader through beautiful language and art.

Love by Matt de la Pena, illustrated by Loren Long

Describing many different ways love can show itself in a child’s life, de la Pena provides reassurance that through happiness or sadness, you will always have love. Loren Long is often associated with his popular picture book series about Otis the tractor, but in this book he deftly draws not just humans, but people with character and soul. The double-page spread of a child searching her own eyes in her reflection is powerful. Alongside de la Pena’s message, this image will may cause readers to stop and dwell on the statement, “And the face staring back in the bathroom mirror – this, too, is love.” Self-love is as important as showing love to all those we care about.

A House That Once Was by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Lane Smith

Readers will be smitten by Smith’s gorgeous illustrations from the beginning. The story of two children finding an old, abandoned house is revealed almost wistfully with dainty flowers and demure splashes of color. The notes on the copyright page explain that the effect was created by using India ink “drawn on vellum with a crow quill pen, then pressed while wet onto watercolor paper creating a blotted line effect,” and the colors were added later underneath. As the children dream up stories to go with the artifacts left behind by the house’s last owners, their imaginative stories take shape with more solid illustrations. Then it’s back to the blotted, nostalgic renderings as the children head home from their dreamy afternoon adventure, leaving a mystical impression on the reader.

Anyone is welcome to join us at the library for the Mock Caldecott discussion on Saturday at 1:30, co-sponsored by the K-State English Department, Children’s and Adolescent Literature Community (ChALC), and the library. It is a time to celebrate some of the amazing books being published for the next generation and to appreciate the talent that goes into their creation.