We are doing a mock Caldecott program at our library over the month of January. It’s a combination of a regular program and a passive program, and so far it’s going well. Every Thursday in January, we have a Caldecott book club. In that program, we read 4 books together, and the participants vote on their favorites. Then we put a display of those four books out and allow any patron to vote on them for the rest of the week. The winner of the week becomes one of the finalists. The next week, we read/display 4 different books. By the last week, we will have 4 finalists, and will vote from those to pick the mock Caldecott winner for our library.
Week One Books and Book Club: Books were chosen based on blog buzz, other people’s mock Caldecott lists, our favorites, and books we thought had strong pictures and a lot of kid appeal.
Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla, written by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by G. Brian Karas. This was a fun one to read with the kids in the book club. It’s too long for normal storytime, so I’d never gotten a chance to read it with kids before. The kids had no idea what to expect, as they thought it was going to be a silly story about a gorilla who goes shopping. So it was a bit unexpected when I started reading it, but the kids really did like the story and couldn’t believe it was a true story. They were all very happy when Ivan was taken out of his sad situation and went to a zoo. And we got to talk about how pictures can convey meaning. There are some really beautiful pictures for illustrating sadness and loneliness here (as well as happiness at the end), and it was fun to talk about how the images could convey feelings with the kids.
Flashlight, written and illustrated by Lizi Boyd. The kids pored over the illustrations in this one. Once they realized there were cutouts in the book, they made sure they identified them on every page. They were completely engaged by the illustrations. This was interesting to read with the kids, because it lent itself to a great discussion about purely the illustrations, without the words of the book coming into the discussion. We had a small group, and it was clear that this kind of visual analysis was new to them, so that added a fun element.
Hi, Koo! written and illustrated by Jon J. Muth. I loved all of the books we read this week, but Hi, Koo! is my favorite. I love the illustrations and the poems, and I’m a sucker for a good seasons book. The kids liked it too, especially the illustration where everyone’s eyes are square from too much TV. I did notice that they struggled a little more with the books that weren’t “regular” picture books–they had a harder time tracking this book and Flashlight than the other more traditional stories.
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, written and illustrated by Dan Santat. This was far and away the hit of the book club. As soon as the kids saw Beekle, they said, “He looks like Baymax!” and they were hooked. The lively, beautiful illustrations and lovely story kept them engaged throughout. We had a small group for the first week of the book club (a family of 4), and all of them voted for Beekle.
Passive Program: After we met on Thursday, we put the 4 books out on display on Friday and let patrons vote on them throughout the week. It was fun to watch older kids read the books on their own and vote, and to watch families read them together. The votes also evened out over the week–all of the books got some votes.
And the winner of week 1 is (drum roll please): The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend. It’s easy to see why this is our first finalist. The pictures are lively, the story is fun, and there’s a ton of kid appeal here. Come back next Monday for our week 2 finalist and breakdown!