Utahns weigh in on which 2014 picture books should win coveted Caldecott Medal

First Published      Last Updated Feb 26 2015 02:49 pm

Picture books » Winners will be announced next month.

At the end of this month, a select group of children's librarians will meet in Chicago to decide which picture book published in 2014 will receive the coveted Caldecott Medal, an award given for outstanding illustration. Past winners include iconic titles such as "The Snowy Day" by Ezra Jack Keats, "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak and "The Polar Express" by Chris Van Allsburg.

It's anybody's guess which book will be selected. Results have been surprising occasionally, even controversial — plenty of people, for example, were disappointed when last year's committee failed to show "Mr. Tiger Goes Wild" by Peter Brown any love. Still, those who care about picture books anticipate the announcement of the winner in much the same way film buffs look forward to the Oscars. With this in mind, The Tribune recently asked a group of local children's librarians, educators, booksellers and authors which books they hope to see honored.

Gene Nelson, librarian and former Caldecott committee member

Yuyi Morales has long been one of my favorite picture-book illustrators. She often incorporates a mixed-media approach and does so again in her stunning Viva Frida. "Viva" is a vibrant exploration of Frida Kahlo's artistic inspiration and style. Morales' homage is not a traditional biography, yet "Viva" captures the essence of Kahlo's colorful vision of life. Photographs of Morales' exquisite puppets are coupled with acrylic masterpieces that visually represent Kahlo's life as well as the artist's impact on Morales herself. I'll be tremendously disappointed if "Viva Frida" doesn't take home a gold or silver Caldecott Medal.

Michelle Costello Sargent, bookseller

My choice, hands down, would be At the Same Moment Around the World by Clotilde Perrin. First, the illustrations represent the best in children's picture books — they are works of art in their own right. And the subject matter — the passage of time simultaneously in different parts of the world — is something that I have thought and wondered about since I was a child. Time and its passing connects us all, and this beautiful book helps reinforce that very notion.

Bobbie Pyron, author and librarian

The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee. Frazee's stunning illustrations need no words to convey this beautiful story.

Cindy Mitchell, librarian and book blogger

Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance by Birgitta Sif. Sif's exuberant illustrations dance across the page, just as Frances Dean loves to dance. I found myself wanting to try out some of her moves!

Catherine Weller, bookseller

The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse by Patricia Mac­Lachlan, illustrated by Hadley Hooper. The text of this book is affecting but brief. It sets the stage for a magnificent set of illustrative spreads expanding upon Matisse's childhood. At first the illustrations are beautiful and simple. As the boy Matisse grows older, the illustrations become more complex and elaborate, using colors and developing themes found in Matisse's actual work. This lovely book about the nurturing and growth of creativity is stunning. It works as a read-aloud, a book for classroom instruction or a book to simply flip through while oohing and ahhing at the pictures.

Kate Coombs, author

Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems selected by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Illustrating a poetry collection is especially tricky because a poem paints a strong word picture, so how do you complement rather than compete with that? Sweet pulls it off beautifully in spreads that only seem ordinary at first glance. Her mixed-media lines and images move across the page with a lot of verve, punctuated by surprising colors, textures and even words. I especially like her image for Charles Reznikoff's "House-wreckers" poem, with its stairs leading to a map of the night.

Vivian Evans, bookseller

I like to consider the whole package. Words, pictures, how the words flow with the turn of the page, the message and whether it is entertaining to both children and adults. Some of my favorites this year are Blue on Blue by Dianne White and illustrated by Beth Krommes, Firefly July selected by Paul Janeczko and illustrated by Melissa Sweet, Three Bears in a Boat by David Soman and Draw! by Raúl Colón.

Carla Morris, author and librarian

All Different Now by Angela Johnson is the up-close-and-personal story of a young slave girl and her family on the day of June 19, 1865, when they learn unexpectedly of their freedom. Master watercolorist E.B. Lewis captures facial details and showcases his talent with light and reflection of the joyful news. A wonderful double-page spread of work in the cotton field is stunning. Each page is Caldecott worthy.

» Next page... Single page