Folks, for 9 years now I’ve been doing these goofy little Newbery/Caldecott prediction posts. I get ’em wrong far more often than I get ’em right but they’re fun and I enjoy doing them. March 15th is normally the date of the Spring Prediction Edition, and as tradition states I’m supposed to show you how poorly I do with a quickie round-up of past posts. So, in that vein:
2014 spring predictions: Zip. Zero. Zilch.
2016 spring predictions: Zero correct, though the commenters do mention two books that would go on to win.
Getting so few correct last year you might think I’d double down this year and just predict a whole SLEW of books. Not happening. Nope, this year I’m actually scaling back. Thanks to an erratic reading schedule, I simply haven’t read enough novels this year to have any kind of a sense of what could win a Newbery. So if you’d like Newbery predictions check out this recent 100 Scope Notes list and this 2018 Newbery Reading List from Heavy Medal (LOVE the inclusion of Flora and the Crocodile on there!).
That said, I’m good on Caldecott books. Why? Because they make for quicker reads! Here then are the books that I think have more than a swinging chance at Caldecott Gold in their future:
2018 Caldecott Predictions
Mighty Moby by Barbara Dacosta, ill. Ed Young
Young’s a multiple winner (hat tip to Lon Po Po and Caldecott Honoree Seven Blind Mice) and in the past I’d predicted wins for his books Tsunami and Wabi Sabi. Neither of those books came to anything, but Moby here is different. With those other two books the art was beautiful. With this book it’s shocking. It’s terrifying. It takes your breath away and then refuses to give it back, even when you ask really really nicely. Mind you, if Little, Brown gets ANOTHER Caldecott Gold four years running that will have to be some kind of a record.
Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters by Michael Mahin, ill. Evan Turk
This one’s not out until September so just sit on this recommendation and remember it until then. The fact of the matter is that every single year I think Turk’s going to get a medal. I thought it with Grandfather Gandhi. I thought it with The Storyteller. Now I’m thinking it with Muddy, but of those three books, Muddy may have the best chance. Turk’s art perfectly brings to life the legendary blues guitarist’s life. I had my resident jazz expert at work vet the piece and he declared it a beauty. Treat yourself by visiting Evan’s blog where he posts the sketches he made of Chicago’s contemporary jazz scene while doing research for this book. Then look at this picture here:
You see where I’m coming from.
A Perfect Day by Lane Smith
Horn Book called the art in this picture book “textured mixed-media” while Kirkus, being Kirkus, said, “Smith’s mixed-media artwork masterfully explores texture and scale.” All I know is that this is Lane Smith at his best. I love the twist. I love the shot of the bear with the corncob in his mouth. I love, as Booklist said, that, “(T)he humorous surprise ending will make children squeal as they ponder the concept of perfect”. I think it reads aloud well and entices children and has that sly little undercurrent of subversion you need from a Lane Smith book. Keep Smith in the mix then. He’s a Caldecott winner with an Honor or two under his belt, so this one may sneak up on you.
The Secret Project by Jonah Winter, ill. Jeanette Winter
I have a theory about the Caldecott. It doesn’t reward artists that have the same style in all their books. This is why some of the best artists alive today can’t call themselves Caldecott winners. The award is, in many ways, limited in scope. Now Ms. Jeanette Winter, for all that she’s done beautiful books over the years, has never won a Caldecott in any form. And in this book her style is her own and it hasn’t changed. And. Yet. And yet this book is a wonder and a beauty. The ending either rips your heart out or terrifies you (justifiably). Those two pages of pure black . . . so gutsy a move. So while I might call this book a bit of a Wild Card, if ever Ms. Winter deserved some attention for her years and years of killer service to the field, it would be in conjunction with this book.
This House, Once by Deborah Freedman
Subtle. Does the Caldecott often reward subtlety? I think so. Mind you, I’m torn over whether or not I like Freedman’s book so much because of the images or because of the text. The text, in which readers are introduced to each piece of a house and its origins in the natural world, is so measured and lovely that you just sink into the accompanying illustrations without a peep.
Tony by Ed Galing, ill. Erin E. Stead
By no means a slam dunk. Of all the books Stead has created over the years since winning her own Caldecott Medal, none have struck me as quite as Caldecott-y as this title. It’s based on a short sweet poem by Galing about a morning milk horse. Stead’s work has an old-fashioned children’s book vibe to it. I know someone who said that in one section the text and images do not match, so it may be finished before it began, but there’s a great deal of weight and emotion to the work. It at least deserves some debate.
Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell
Ah. Remember what I said about the Caldecott rewarding those that change up their artistic styles from time to time? Of all the books on this list today, Cordell’s may be the one I’m putting most of my money on. Practically wordless, it’s a change of pace for the man and a lovely object to behold. Look how he focuses the reader’s attention on one character or another. Look at the blinding snowstorm. The honest raw emotion when the girl stretches out her arms to the wolf cub imploringly (so different from the image on the cover). This would be the 2018 frontrunner at this time.
So what have I missed (and I’ll include Newbery contenders in that ask)? What seems so surefire and clear cut that you’re shocked and appalled that I’ve forgotten it here?