The Caldecott has a rep for being the most difficult ALA award to predict. Based on my past performances, I second that. But you gotta try at least, right?

Here then are my picks for 2010 Caldecott glory.

2010 Caldecott Medal Prediction: The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney.

Beginning with the iconic cover, and extending throughout this retelling of an Aesop fable, Jerry Pinkney’s illustrations are impossible to deny. Look at it this way – a man who’s overdue to win the big one lays down the most impressively illustrated book of the year. That’s a winner, right?

Caldecott Honor Prediction: Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty.

While it flew a bit under the radar this year, I predict the committee will remember Jeremy Draws a Monster when it comes time to bestow foil seals. An excellent example of picture book efficiency – there isn’t a wasted word or image to be seen in this quiet gem. McCarty illustrations work wonders with blank space, setting the perfect mood for a story featuring a child in self-imposed isolation.

Caldecott Honor Prediction: Higher! Higher! by Leslie Patricelli.

Talk about illustration and text being inseparable. Petriceli’s vivid acrylics blend seamlessly with this simple story. The visuals are deceptively rich as well, with layers of color occasionally giving way to the black canvass underneath. While this book doesn’t give off that intangible Caldecott vibe like the other books on this list do (I think it has something to do with Higher! Higher!’s touch of absurdity), this may turn up and surprise some people.

Caldecott Honor Prediction: All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee.

All the World is the definition of a consensus-builder. I dare you to dislike it. Ain’t possible. A poem about nature and humanity set to swooshing landscapes that make the phrase “expand the text” sound like a foolish understatement. I’m willing to bet that this makes the cut – it’s just too easy to like.

What do you think? Will these predictions come true? Be sure to watch the 2010 ALA Youth Media Awards (including the Caldecott Medal) and find out. From the ALA website:

The American Library Association (ALA) will provide a free live webcast of its Youth Media Awards, a national announcement of the top books and media for children and young adults, on Jan. 18, at 7:45 a.m. EST. The award announcements are made as part of the ALA Midwinter Meeting, which will bring together librarians, publishers, authors and guests to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center from Jan. 15 to 19.