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Mocking Masters: Future Librarians Dive into a Mock Caldecott

I teach children’s literature in a Canadian university and my students are the next generation of children’s services librarians. For the past 2 years I have held a class-wide Mock Caldecott. This serves the dual purpose of introducing them to a lot of current illustrated material and teaching them the specifics of this important book award. My hope is that they will be able to apply these same steps to other children’s book and media awards. After reading and book-talking eligible books all term, we came up with the following top 10 Mock Caldecott contenders, in alphabetical order by title, followed by the name of the illustrator.

Another, illustrated by Christian Robinson
A Big Bed for Little Snow, illustrated by Grace Lin
Camp Tiger, illustrated by John Rocco
Field Trip to the Moon, illustrated by John Hare, (our Mock winner!)
Hey, Water!, illustrated by Antoinette Portis
Planting Stories: the Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpre, illustrated by Paola Escobar
My Papi Has a Motorcycle, illustrated by Zeke Peña
Saturday, illustrated by Oge Mora
A Stone Sat Still, illustrated by Brendan Wenzel, (our Mock honoree!)
The Undefeated, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, (our Mock honoree!)

For our class discussion, using this template as a guide, we discussed each contender’s relative strengths and then brought up any weaknesses or concerns. Students were encouraged to write notes and ratings, expanding the table as needed. Feel free to copy and/or adapt this template to your own purposes.

Title/Author/Illustrator

Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed and pictorial interpretation of the story
On a scale of 1 to 5 how does this book rate on these criteria?

Appropriateness of illustration style
On a scale of 1 to 5 how does this book rate on this criterion?

Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information
On a scale of 1 to 5 how does this book rate on this criterion?

Recognition of child audience
On a scale of 1 to 5 how does this book rate on this criterion?

Other comments, personal opinions, gut reactions, rants and raves go here
On a scale of 1 to 5, how does this book stack up overall?

One of the things I told my students was to think of their absolute favourite past Caldecott winner and use that book as the highest rating 5/5 exemplar. So, for example, my own mental process for Mock Awards is by asking myself “On a scale of 1 to Where The Wild Things Are, how does this book rate?” I have found that only a few books end up standing out across all or most criteria as truly distinguished illustrated books for children.

We were all very happy with our Mock Caldecott Slate and can’t wait to see how our results compare with the real 2020 Caldecott committee’s choices when they are announced in January 2020! It is important to remember though that the point is not guessing the real awards correctly (although I admit, I like it when I guess right!) but rather to explore a year’s worth of exemplary illustrated books and be able to recommend them with confidence to the children we serve.

I encourage you to participate in your own Mock Awards. The ALSC blog has lots of resources and ideas for becoming a Mocker! Just search for the word “Mock” and lots of posts will pop up to help you get started.

Mock Masters


Tess Prendergast, MLIS, PhD, is a former children’s librarian who teaches librarianship and children’s literature courses in Vancouver, Canada. She is currently on the ALSC Membership committee and will soon start on the Excellence in Early Learning Digital Media Award committee. Tess is very proud to have served on the 2016 Caldecott Committee.


Participating in Mock Caldecott, as well as many other Mock Award activities supports ALSC competency IV, Knowledge, Curation, and Management of Materials, especially: “Demonstrates knowledge, management, use and appreciation of children’s literature, multimodal materials, digital media, and other materials that contribute to a diverse, current, and relevant children’s collection. Understands and applies criteria for evaluating the content, artistic merit, and cultural authenticity of children’s materials in all genres and formats.”

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