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Here in Michigan, the snow is already falling and what the locals call “Caldecott Season” is upon us. By locals, I mean local children’s librarians. We go out into the woods, into our Caldecott blinds and Caldecott tree stands, quietly waiting with anticipation for the nominees to appear. While I’m busy compiling my list of predictions (to be posted in the near future), I came across an article on someone doing the real thing.

Ed Spicer, a first grade teacher from around these parts (and former Printz and BBYA participant) is on the current Caldecott committee. The Kalamazoo Gazette has printed two articles on his process for narrowing down the choices. The most recent piece even contains a list of some current front runners – a list that students helped compile. Says Mr. Spicer: 

[T]he Caldecott Medal differs from other major awards such as the Printz in that judges are “really encouraged” to get a wide variety of feedback, not only from librarians, art teachers and other adult lovers of picture books, but also from children.

Mr. Spicer is talking with members of the community and holding a series of mock Caldecott events at the Kalamazoo Public Library, inviting input. Another excerpt:

Spicer hopes to achieve a consensus for the six nominations he’s allowed between these programs and others, including meetings with Rotary, local library leaders and a similar program at St. Joseph schools.

Personally, I love how Spicer is including kids (ahem, the intended audience of the Caldecott winner) in the early stages of this exciting process. But I can foresee this “It Takes a Village” method not siting right with some children’s lit folks. How much input is too much? I think about the fact that the award is not based on popularity, but quality, and wonder if the masses should (or can) play a part. Opinions? Click below to read both articles.

“Help Pick a Great Picture Book” 8/28/08

“Young Readers Help Pick Caldecott Books” 11/16/08