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.