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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fuse 8 n’ Kate: 2021 Caldecott Contenders

I wish I could tell you that it took me a long time to figure out what the three books we’d be discussing for the Caldecott Contender episode of our podcast would be this year, but honestly it wasn’t difficult at all. I love all three of these books down to the cold cockles of my shriveled little heart. I seriously believe that each one of these books has a very good chance at some kind of Caldecott love in 2021. Our track record on this show hasn’t been too shabby either. In 2020 we identified Going Down Home With Daddy (just don’t ask how we did in 2019). In the course of this recording I discover that the most amusing way to talk about the information at the end of a book is to say “backmatterbackmatterbackmatterbackmatter”. Kate meanwhile falls hard for one of the contenders. Let’s see if you can guess which book made her cry, “In the beginning I didn’t want to see it and now I don’t WANNA LET IT GO!!!”

Listen to the whole show here on Soundcloud or download it through iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, Google Play, PlayerFM, or your preferred method of podcast selection.

Show Notes:

The ALA Youth Media Awards will stream live on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021, at 8 a.m. CT right here.

Remember! Anytime you need to know how to pronounce someone’s name and they work with children’s books, go to The pronunciations of everything from Scieszka and Krosozka to Goade and Bird are there.

Here is the link to my interview with Carole Lindstrom and Michaela Goade. WELL worth your time. Those women are amazing.

Here is the piece How Children’s Books Grapple with the Native American Experience on NPR.

This was the page that Kate said she could see tattooed on a woman’s back. It’s where Kate lost her heart.

Just when I didn’t think I could love this book any more . . . THERE’S A BEAVER!!!

I say this grasshopper’s antennae is just flat on its head. Who’s with me?!?

“It is a little bit of a temptation to rip the pages out of this book and frame them on your wall.”

Kate was really happy that, because we did Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith, she could recognize the jingle dancers in the crowd of this scene.

Was this pledge in the galley? We’ve never seen anything like this in a picture book from a major publisher before.

By the way there was a Caldecott Honoree who was Indigenous. It was Velino Herrera, a Pueblo artist who won a Caldecott Honor in 1942. According to K.T. Horning:

“Velino Herrera was also the first BIPOC artist honored by the Caldecott Committee. I wrote a bit about him in Horn Book article called “Arrow to the Sun and Critical Controversies.”

I went down the Velino Herrera rabbit hole at the time I was researching the HB article. It’s a fascinating journey. He was a controversial figure among the Zia Pueblo because he gave the Zia’s sacred sun symbol to the New Mexican government. You can still see it on the New Mexico license plate, and there’s been a long-time lawsuit about it between the Zia Pueblo and New Mexico.

He was one of many talented Native artists who illustrated picture books written by non-Native authors working with Native children. Many of these books were written by Ann Nolan Clark. There’s whole fascinating book about this called “Native American Picture Books of Change : The Art of Historic Children’s Editions” by Rebecca Benes. Velino Herrera is one of the artists profiled. I found this book to be the best source of info about him. (And it’s a great book overall. I highly recommend it.)”

Here be some seriously unimpressed ducks.

I did like that Kate pointed out that technically, if you look at the word coming out of her mouth, she’s really saying, “OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOB”.

Kate said a big old, “NOPE!!!” when she saw this image. I confessed that when I first showed this book to some people on my library’s children’s book committee, more than a couple physically recoiled when they saw the baby bee so big. But as you will hear, Kate more than comes around to this bee.

This book is so big that the bees in this book are pretty much, “the size of your cat”. I should have put my own pet alongside this image for comparison.

Hey! Are those lupins? Someone identify this sucker for me, please!

As per our listener, school librarian Jen Kuhn sent us all sorts of information about Barbara Cooney and the Lawrence Library featured in Miss Rumphius. Here’s a look at the library itself:

Jen writes:

“The interior shot was from the  Lawrence Library general information page: And the photo of the outside of the library came from a wiki commons photo: It really is a lovely old library.  An old interior photo can be found here from a postcard at the Boston Public Library.

Thanks, Jen!

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Thank you. We are excited to consider the medal in our Virtual Mock Caldecott.

  2. Robin Smith says

    Sorry Kate – Technically she is saying Booooo. Not only does it read left to right, the B is the furthest letter from her mouth – which means it came out first. 🙂

  3. Think the grasshopper’s antennae are blending into the background. There’s a faint line there.

    Anyway, I just recorded a video for the library of booktalks of possible Caldecott contenders– ten of them! And I still felt self-conscious because we didn’t yet have copies of a few books I’ve seen really high on people’s lists! So it feels good that I DID have all three of these among my ten! I must admit I don’t see the Caldecottiness of My Best Friend so much– I could talk up in my video things to look at (I also focused on the ducks) that made it distinguished but against the other contenders I’m eh. The story’s sweet though. I think my first pick at least among these three is also Water Protectors. And I thought the opening of Honeybee was more stunning than scary, but it also grew on me as it went along! So I feel nicely backed up by this episode.

  4. Will you be putting out your final predictions for both the Newbery and Caldecott soon? I try to get your choices ordered before the actually announcement in hopes that I get some of the winners before they need a reprint 🙂