Reflections on Caldecott Books of 2014

Caldecott Medal

For those with question marks over their heads, here is a short explanation of the history behind the medal. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

All caught up?  Good.  Now, on to the individual titles.

  • Brian Floca’s Locomotive: received the medal and deservedly so.  Floca teaches about the science and mechanics involved in a steam engine and the history of the First Transcontinental Railroad at the same time.  The use of second-person usually feels artificial to me, but Floca makes it flow so well.
  • Aaron Becker’s Journey: my favorite of the four.  Becker’s meticulous attention to detail and variety of perspectives tell a wonderful adventure without words.  He also manages to make the journey feel dangerous yet not gruesome.  When does his next book publish?
  • Molly Idle’s Flora and the Flamingo: feels like an animated feature in the best ways.  The characters are expressive and believable without any text.  The only negative I see is the physical book.  With such light, delicate paper for the flaps it will be damaged within a few months.
  • David Wiesner’s Mr. Wuffles!: an original concept impeccably drawn.  A testy cat attempts to catch an aliens’ spaceship while the insects and aliens make First Contact.  This too is a story without text (well, unless you count the aliens’ incomprehensible speech bubbles) that works perfectly.

Usually there’s at least one title that makes we wonder what on earth Caldecott/Newberry/National Book Award Committees are thinking, but not with this stack.  I’d recommend any of the titles to both children and adults.