Mock Caldecott 2017

This year is Year 3 for me of doing a Mock Caldecott unit with my class. Every year I have worked with a different grade. I taught a Grade 3 & 4 class in 2014/2015, a Grade 2 & 3 class in 2015/2016 and this year I have a Grade 4 & 5 class. So each year I have had to switch things up a little bit. Tomorrow we begin our unit and will be deep in reading and discussion for the next 2 weeks. On January 23rd, the actual Caldecott awards (honor and medal) will be announced!


I read a LOT of picture books each year and start selecting Mock Caldecott possibilities early on. In making this list, I do pay attention to Caldecott buzz but I also think about a few other things in compiling the ideal list for my students. I try to choose a collection of titles where there will be some nonfiction as well as fiction. I want the stories we share to be entertaining and inspiring. I want students to encounter illustration styles they might not have seen before. I hope that we will continue to be able to talk about genre – so this list contains a fantasy story, a biography, narrative nonfiction, poetry and a wordless book. First, yes, I have to have been impressed by the illustrations but I usually narrow a list of 20  plus titles down to 10 to 12 so I can also think of these other things in making my choices.

I am very excited about this list of twelve titles on our Mock Caldecott 2017 list.

Listed alphabetically by illustrator.

Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer

Daniel Finds a Poem

Return by Aaron Becker


Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay written by Susan Hood and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport


A Hungry Lion or a dwindling assortment of animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins


The Night Gardener by the Fan brothers 

The Night Gardener

The Sound of Silence written by Katrina Goldsaito and illustrated by Julia Kuo


Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell with illustrations by Rafael López

Maybe Something Beautiful

Giant Squid written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohmann


Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe


The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes by Duncan Tonatiuh


The Storyteller by Evan Turk


They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel


In thinking about how I would do this unit with an older class, I was thrilled to come across Jess Lif‘s blog post about her Mock Caldecott unit. Jess is one of the most inspirational, insightful and generous educators I know. The work Jess did with her students is helping me think about how I am going to work with my students this year in terms of discussion, analysis and the voting aspects of the unit.

For the first few days we will be talking all things Caldecott and exploring some of the previous winners. Within a few days, we will be diving headfirst into all of these books! Can’t wait! Stay tuned!



7 thoughts on “Mock Caldecott 2017

  1. I came to copy your link for my must read post and I see you have another post! I loved Radiant Child! The artwork in it is so beautifully unique and different. I wrote a quote from the book that I thought was so important for today’s educational world. “Art is the street games of little children, in our style, and the words we speak. It is how the messy patchwork of the city creates new meaning for ordering things.”

  2. The Night Gardener was one of my favorites this year! I wonder what your students will think of the books that have been selected for your Mock Caldecott. Can’t wait to hear more. Jess’ post is one that I will return to in the future!

  3. I so appreciated your link to a description of how another class does their Mock Caldecott. The nuts and bolts were fascinating to me. Thanks!

  4. Yes! The link is fantastic! I am doing a Mock Caldecott with my 5th grade library class for the first time. They helped me cull the original collection of 24 books down to 10-12, and now four have risen to the top, including three from your list. The Night Gardener is pretty much the runaway favorite, followed closely by Return. Maybe Something Beautiful is overall third, but has a loyal following who have selected it is as their favorite. Our fourth is Dan Santat’s Are We There Yet?
    Thanks for your direction & inspiration, always.

  5. P.S. We also did an activity where they took on the role of the illustrator. I gave them the text from the first four double-spreads of The Dark (Snicket/Klassen) and gave them four blank thumbnails. Their task was to decide how to break up the text across the four pages and sketch the illustrations to accompany it. The thinking and variety of illustrative style & approach that emerged was delightful!

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