A while back I did a list of the ten Newberry honor books that should have one, so I thought it would be only fitting to follow that up with this list of ten Caldecott honor books that should have won. The Caldecott is given each year to the “artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.” That being said, this list isn’t saying anything about the books that won in that year, just about the fact that these are all excellent books that very well could have/should have won. So here we go, in chronological order…
10. Bartholomew and the Oobleck, by Dr. Seuss, 1950/9. If I Ran the Zoo by Dr. Seuss, 1951 — I kind of couldn’t believe this one. In back-to-back years, Dr. Seuss was given a Caldecott honor, but didn’t win. Amazingly enough, he never won, and never had another honor book. Only one author has come that close and not won more times, but more on that below…
8. Frederick by Leo Lionni, 1968 — I loved this book about a little poet mouse. While he was also a runner up 3 other times, this is the one that really sticks out.
7.Frog and Toad are Friends, by Arnold Lobel, 1971 — Poor Arnold Lobel. Runner up for the Caldecott AND the Newberry for Frog and Toad. Oh well. He did eventually win a Caldecott a few years later for Fables, so I guess we can forgive that.
6. No, David! By David Shannon, 1999 — This is one of the simplest books on this list, but now that I’m a parent, the most enjoyable. Go take a look at it!
5. Sector 7, by David Wiesner — Sector 7 is a beautifully illustrated wordless book about a city in the clouds. It’s one of those books that I read for grad school, and it has just stuck with me.
4. Olivia, by Ian Falconer, 2001 — Really? Olivia didn’t win a Caldecott?
3. Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus, by Mo Willems, 2004/2. Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, by Mo Willems, 2005/1. Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity, Mo Willems, 2008 — And finally comes one of the greatest almost-winners since Susan Lucci: Three times in five years. Mo Willems, one of the most brilliant children’s authors of our time, was left as a runner-up. Pigeon, and both Knuffle Bunny books are both fantastically amazing. Well, at any rate, at least Willems still has time to crank yet another great book out and win one before he retires.