Caldecott Honor Books

caldecott medal

“The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.” From the Website



Caldecott Honor Books

Becker, Aaron. Journey. Candlewick Press, 2013. 40 pages. $15.99 ISBN-13: 978-0763660536

A young girl journeys through magical lands with the help of her red crayon.

Age Range 4-10

Fantasy, wordless picture book

5 out of 5 for quality, 5 out of 5 for popularity.

Caldecott Honor, 2014

Imagination takes us outside ourselves and into beautiful worlds, as it does for a girl, bored of life in an urban city and ready for adventure. Drawing a door for herself on her bedroom wall she enters an enchanting forest filled with lights and a river that takes her to a city full of domed cathedrals and a system of aqueducts. All along the way she travels through the power of her red crayon, making boats, hot air balloons, and a flying carpet. She helps to save a beautiful purple bird who eventually leads her back to her home, but also to a new friend with an imagination to match her own. Without words and full of incredibly detailed and magical drawings, this book tells an adventure story that reminds one of a detailed Harold and the Purple Crayon (which is emphasized even more when the boy she meets in the end has a crayon that is purple). Although the illustrations range from simple to detailed, the geometry and use of color infuse the whole work with emotional content. Any page this book is opened to tells a story and makes it an irresistible book.


Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

Free Fall by David Wiesner

Rainstorm by Barbara Lehman

Book Discussion

  1. Is this book about an imaginary journey or is the girl in a fantasy land that is real to her?
  2. How does the author use color to tell the story?


Great book for pre-readers as it has no words and allows for a lot of interaction. Adventure, Friendship, magic, imagination.


Author website

Author interview


dave the potter

Hill, Laban Carrick. Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave. Illustrated by Bryan Collier. Little Brown and Company, 2010. 40 pages. $18.00 ISBN-13: 978-0316107310

A poem about a slave who made pots and inscribed them with lines of poetry.

Biography picture book, poetry

Age Range: 5-12

4 out of 5 for quality, 3 out of 5 for popularity.

Coretta Scott King Award for Illustrator, 2011

Caldecott Honor, 2011

“To us, it is just dirt…” begins a picture book that imparts the brief things we know about the life of Dave the Potter. Born a slave, almost all the information about him comes from the simple lines of poetry he inscribed on the huge ceramic pots he made. This story is told in poem as well, to further illustrate the power poetry has to describe a life, whether it is telling it autobiographically on pots or historically in a picture book. It is also the story of how pottery is made, clay thrown on a wheel, shape curved with hands and arms. The illustrations are done by Bryan Collier, whose normal collage style is toned down, focusing more on the detail illustrations and using some collage to give the images extra dimension. Especially beautiful are the illustrations of Dave’s hands as they work the clay into a pot. The color palette for the whole work is earth tones, the tans and browns of clay and pottery. This is a unique, beautiful biography of a man who has an unusual place in American history.


Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom By Carole Boston Weatherford

Carver: A life in Poems by Marilyn Nelson

Ellington was Not a Street by Ntozake Shange

Book Discussion

  1. Why is it important that we learn about Dave?
  2. What made Dave different from other slaves?


Author Website

A video showing a pottery vase being made.


william blake

Willard, Nancy. A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers. Illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen. Harcourt, 1982. 45 pages. $16.60 ISBN-13: 978-0812404661

A series of poems in the style of William Blake describe a fantastical inn full or marvelous creatures.

Poetry Picture Book

Age Range: 5 and up

Rating: 5 out of 5 for quality, 3 out of 5 for popularity.

Newbery Medal, 1982

Caldecott Honor, 1982

Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Picture Book, 1982

The introduction tells the story of the author hearing a poem by William Blake as a child and becoming enchanted. In this book, beautifully illustrated with muted earth tones of an old-fashioned style, is Willard’s tribute to her beloved Poet. Clearly written with imagination and fancy, each poem has a different rhythm, but all work to describe some aspect of the amazing inn run by William Blake with the help of tigers, dragons, angels, and the King of Cats. The reader is continually confronted with amazing journeys to the stars, fantastic flying carriages, and dragons making bread juxtaposed against cozy images of Blake at his writing desk or in a study with a warm fire in the fireplace. The city, too, makes appearances, regularly in surreal images of rooftops and rooms clustered among geometric buildings and architecture. The poems are refreshing and feel beautiful and silly and charming, and give nod to Blake’s imagination and need for breaking away from rationality.

“He gave silver shoes to the rabbit

And golden gloves to the cat

And emerald boots to the tiger and me

And boots of iron to the rat.”

The magic and imagination infused in this book make it perfect for reading to children and enjoying alone.


In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

Omnibeasts: animal poems and paintings by Douglas Florian

Red Sings from the Treetops: A Year in Colors by Joyce Sidman

Book Discussion

  1. What do you think this book tells us about the poetry of the real William Blake?
  2. None of the humans seemed surprised by what is happening in the pictures, whoudl you be surprised?

Book Talking

Would you like to visit a place where angels make the beds and dragons bake the bread? Where a nature walk is through the stars? How about if you had to cuddle a bear for a bed?


Author Biography from the Poetry Foundation

A brief movie about the real William Blake



2 Coretta Scott King Book award winners.

CSK Winner - Watermark“The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.  The award commemorates the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and honors his wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace and world brotherhood.” from the ALA website

 one crazy summer

Williams-Gracia, Rita. One Crazy Summer. Amistad/HarperCollins Publishers, 2010. 218 pages

$16.89 ISBN 978-0-06-076089-2

Delphine, Vonetta and Fern spend a summer with their estranged mother in Oakland, CA in 1968, where there they attend a day camp run by the Black Panthers.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Age Range: 9-14

Rating: 5 out of 5 for quality. 5 out of 5 for popularity


Coretta Scott King Award, 2011

Newbery Honor, 2011

Scott O’Dell Award, 2011

National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature, 2010


Delphine, Vonetta and Fern were abandoned by their mother when Fern was a baby, but now are heading out to spend the summer with her in Oakland. Set in 1968, this book explores the way the Black Panthers participated in social justice and outreach, for the 3 sisters, this means Black Panther day camp, free breakfast and performing at a rally. Delphine, the eldest at 11, mothers her two younger sisters, and tries to understand the strange, distant woman who is their mother, but who does not behave the way she thinks a mother ought too.

This is an excellent, likable book that imparts a little history and a little social consciousness into a story of a young girl and her mother. The story does not follow predictable patterns and I found the resolution to be satisfying without being schmaltzy.


Celeste’s Harlem Renaissance by Eleanora E. Tate

The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon

Penny from Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm

Book Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you heard of the Black Panthers before this book? Were they portrayed the way you expected? What was different or the same?
  2. How did the girl’s performance at the rally effect their experience of the summer and of their mother?

Book Talking Points:

Black Panthers! An unsupervised visit to San Francisco. Chinese food every day. Black Power Day Camp.


Author Website

National Book Award Interview with the author

Author discusses the book





Nelson, Marilyn. Carver: A Life Poems. Front Street/Boyds Mills Press, 2001. 112 pages. $16.95 ISBN-13: 978-1886910539

Using poetry, the author tells the life of George Washington Carver through the voices of the people he interacted with.

Genre: Biography/ Nonfiction/ Poetry

Age Range: 11-15

Rating: 5 out 5 for quality. 3 out of 5 for popularity


Boston Globe Horn Book – Fiction & Poetry Winner, 2001

Coretta Scott King Honor Book, 2002

Newbery Honor Book, 2002

George Washington Carter was born a slave, but because of the kindness of his owners, was given freedom and was thus able to pursue an education. Supporting himself through washing he went to college and got degrees in science, eventually getting a Master’s degree and becoming the head of the agricultural department of the Tuskegee Institute. The poems tell his story in the voices of the people he interacted with: his teachers, his students, even random individuals who he came in contact with. Because of this, the picture of him is more enticing than complete. The poems focus on his creativity and his relationship with God more than the facts of his life.

This is such a beautifully done book that makes the reader feel intimate with George Washington Carver, like a friend. He is presented as incredibly smart, friendly and enthusiastic about his work and the whole of creation. The photographs from his life helps create further the feeling that the reader is participating. It is the show of a biographies’ strength that the reader is not fully satisfied and wants to find out more about the subject. Books written as a poetical narrative are interesting to me, and while that may be what draws a reader to pick up this book (I found it in the poetry section of my library), what will keep the reader engaged is the lovely voice of a beautiful, creative man.


Ellington Was Not a Street by Ntozake Shange

The Surrender Tree by Margarita Engle

Becoming Billie Holiday by Carole Boston Weatherford

Book Discussion

  1. How does poetry affect the way the reader understands the story?
  2. Why does the author tell the story from different points of view/ how does this affect the way we learn about George Washington Carver?


Author website

Author Interview with Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Interview of author by two fifth graders )