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Fifteen of the best children’s picture books of 2013

By the Timberland Regional Library staff

Last Thursday, Timberland Regional Library staff gathered, as they do each December, to peruse many of the year’s best picture books for children. From them, they named TRL’s choice of illustrator of the most distinguished picture book published this year in the United States.

Twenty-four participants examined 70 books that were either nominated by staff throughout the library system or received starred reviews, or both. Then five groups selected three finalists each.

In the end, Aaron Becker’s “Journey” was voted the winner. The book follows a lonely girl on an elaborate flight of fancy in a wondrously illustrated, wordless picture book about self-determination and unexpected friendship.

Here is the full list of winners and finalists:

Winner: JOURNEY, Aaron Becker, author & illustrator, (Candlewick Press)

Honor Books:

MR. TIGER GOES WILD, Peter Brown, author & illustrator (Little, Brown)

THE STORY OF FISH & SNAIL, Deborah Freedman, author & illustrator (Viking)

THE DARK, Lemony Snicket, author; Jon Klassen, illustrator (Little, Brown)

The other finalists:

ODD DUCK, Cecil Castellucci & Sara Varon, co-illustrators & authors (First Second)

HANK FINDS AN EGG, Rebecca Dudley, illustrator & author (Peter Pauper)

PAPA’S MECHANICAL FISH, Candace Fleming, author; Boris Kulikov, illustrator (Farrar, Straus Giroux)

CHU’S DAY, Neil Gaiman, author; Adam Rex, illustrator (Harper)

FROG SONG, Brenda Guiberson, author; Gennady Spirin, illustrator (Henry Holt)

HOW TO BE A CAT, Nikki McClure, author & illustrator (Abrams Appleseed)

THE TORTOISE & THE HARE, Jerry Pinkney, author & illustrator (Little, Brown)

THE WATERMELON SEED, Greg Pizzoli, author & illustrator (Hyperion)

BUGS IN MY HAIR! David Shannon, author & illustrator (Blue Sky Press)

WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING, Eileen Spinelli, author; David A. Johnson, illustrator (Eerdmans)

BLUEBIRD, Bob Staake, author & illustrator (Schwartz & Wade)

TRL staff try to predict the winners and honor books for the Randolph Caldecott Medal awards that are announced each January at the American Library Association Midwinter Conference. The medal goes to the artist of the most distinguished picture book for children published in the United States during the preceding year.

Library staff used the same criteria as the judges for the Caldecott Medal:

• Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed;

• Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept;

• Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept;

• Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures;

• Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.

“Now we’ll wait with bated breath until the actual Caldecott winner and honor books are announced,” said Ellen Duffy, TRL Youth Services Coordinator. “Will one of our titles be included?”

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