The Caldecott Medal Books for 2014 were announced on January 18th. I was finally able to get copies of them from my library and have a look. The winner—
LOCOMOTIVE by Brian Floca
Atheneum Books for Young Readers 2013
Caldecott Honor Books are—
JOURNEY by Aaron Becker, Candlewick Press
FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO by Molly Idle, Chronicle Books
MR. WUFFLES! by David Wiesner, Clarion Books
A few things struck me as interesting.
The Caldecott winner and all three honor books were by author/illustrators.
The Caldecott winner is non-fiction.
All three honor books are wordless, or almost wordless in the case of MR. WUFFLES.
I love when picture books have illustrations on the inside covers as well as inside the book itself. The inside covers of LOCOMOTIVE are illustrated with different historical moments and maps as well as having text and pictures with additional information. On the inside covers of JOURNEY there are illustrations of vehicles of transportation.
FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO has flaps to open, like in ‘Lift the Flap’ books. The illustrations are very graceful, a good compliment to the type of dance that the flamingo and the little girl are doing in the book.
In JOURNEY, the girl with the red marker or crayon reminds me of Harold in HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON by Crockett Johnson, and the door that she goes through reminds me of THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE by CS Lewis. You’ll have to ‘read’ it to see the surprise at the end.
Never underestimate the power of a cat in MR. WUFFLES! As in other David Wiesner books, the detail is fun and interesting.
Unlike the Caldecott Honor books, LOCOMOTIVE is filled with wonderful words and language. It tells the story of a train, its crew, and a family traveling west aboard America’s first transcontinental railroad. The use of different fonts and letter size, and the many ‘sound’ words (onomatopoeia) throughout the book make it both fun to read and to look at. It reads like poetry—
“…Men came from far away
to build from the East,
to build from the West,
to meet in the middle….”
I listened to a speech online given by Brian Floca at the 2013 National Book Festival. He talked about how his first idea for this book grew from something simple to something more complicated. He also talked about the research he did before beginning to write and illustrate his book. It included reading many books, visiting museums, looking at old photos from the era, as well as primary sources such as talking to people and taking the trip to get the full picture. He actually drove a train along the same path as the first continental railroad trip. From that trip he took what he found most interesting and began to write—notes, questions, phrases. He also drew things that he saw along the way. Revisions included re-writing the text, and changing and re-shaping his drawings as well.
LOCOMOTIVE has received many other awards and recognitions as well, including being selected as a Robert F. Sibert Honor Book, NY Times 10 Best illustrated books of the year and Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2013.
Congratulations to all of the author/illustrators of the Caldecott Medal books for 2014!