Every January, the American Library Association awards the Caldecott Medal “to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.” It’s exciting to find out the winner each year, but it’s also fun to predict who goes home with the gold medal! This January, the Barrington Area Library is hosting a vote to see which book our community would pick.

You can form your own Mock Caldecott Committee with family or friends, and then submit your ballot for the Library-wide vote! Just request a Mock Caldecott Kit, which contains:

  • Five picture books, chosen by the Library staff as possible contenders (though the real Caldecott Committee reviews hundreds of books!);
  • Discussion guides for your group; and
  • Ballots for up to ten people.

Mock Caldecott Kits will be available starting November 1, and ballots for the big vote can be returned any time from Nov. 1 - Jan. 19. Either return the ballots inside your kit, or drop them off in our voting box in Youth Services.

Here are our five Mock Caldecott contenders for 2022!

Zonia's Rain Forest by Juana Martinez-Neal
Strollercoaster by Matt Ringler, art by Raúl the Third and Elaine Bay
Mel Fell by Corey R. Tabor
Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrations by Floyd Cooper
Wishes by by Mu̕ọ̕n Thị Văn, illustrations by Victo Ngai

Facts About The Real Caldecott Medal

  • The Caldecott Medal was created by the American Library Association way back in 1937.
  • The Medal is not just a shiny sticker on book covers: the winner receives a real medal just like Olympic winners, with a design on both the front and back.
  • The Committee can decide to name one or more extra books as Caldecott Honors. There is no rule on the number of Honor books the Committee can name, and they can also decide not to name an Honor book at all!
  • The award was named for a man named Randolph Caldecott, who was an English illustrator during the 1800s. He was known for creating funny and dynamic artwork that complemented the stories.
  • The Medal depicts a scene from one of Randolph Caldecott’s books, The Diverting Story of John Gilpin. On the medal, you can see a man riding a runaway horse, along with geese, dogs, and people all reacting to the exciting scene. Can you imagine the story from this illustration?

Caldecott Website

See past winners as well as all the criteria the Committee evaluates.


Mock Caldecott Discussion Tips

  • Give people plenty of time before the discussion to read each book.
  • Discuss each book one by one.
  • Say not only that you like or dislike something, but explain why: instead of just “I like this page,” try, “I like this page because the illustration is big and powerful!”
  • Listen to others and try to see the book from their point of view.
  • It can be helpful to have one person leading the discussion - that person can:
    • Decide when it’s time to move on to a new book;
    • Call on people to share, especially if only one or two people are doing all the talking;
    • Organize a vote, if you want! While we’re collecting individual votes, it can also be fun to see which book your group would select.


  • Each bag has 10 ballots so every person in your group can vote.
  • Please, only vote once per person, even if you have extra ballots!
  • Find the ballot box in the Youth Services department in the Library.

Evaluating The Art Of A Picture Book

The word used by the Caldecott Committee is “distinguished.” That word could mean very different things to different people! Do you think it means…

Artistic skill?
Superb storytelling?
Expressive emotion?
Timely (very much for the present world)?
Timeless (will never “go out of style”)?

The award could be given for one or many of these reasons! What do you think “distinguished” means?

Questions To Ask About Picture Book Art

  • What did the artist use to create the artworks? You might find this information stated in the book.
    • Pencils?
    • Pens?
    • Paints? What kind?
    • Cut paper or fabric?
    • Computer graphics?
    • Photography?
    • Mixed media (a combination of materials)?
  • Are the illustrations small, or big? Do they cover one page, or both pages?
  • Is the artwork naturalistic (appears to be life-like) or abstract (using colors and shapes without life-like images) - or somewhere in between?
  • What colors do you see? Are the colors:
    • blended together?
    • Clashing?
    • Soft and light? (think of pastel shades)
    • Bold and vivid? (think the reddest of reds, or the greenest of greens!)
    • Warm (reds, oranges, yellows)?
    • Cool (blues, greens, purples)?
  • Now, think about how the combination of colors make you feel.
  • What lines do you see? These could be clearly drawn lines, lines created by shapes, or even suggested lines, the direction of a person’s gaze or a pointed finger. Do the lines make your eyes move around the page?
  • What do the pictures do?
    • Tell a story?
    • Support the story with details?
    • Create emotion?
  • Look not only at the art on the pages, but examine:
    • The book cover, front and back. What does the art on the cover tell you about the story?
    • The endpapers - the inside of the cover. Is there any illustration or design on these spaces?
    • The shape of the book - small, large, tall, short, square?
    • The paper - shiny or matte, heavy or thin?
    • The typography - look at the text’s style, size, color, shape.
  • How do these elements connect with or support the story and reading experience?