Book Talk: 2021 Mock Caldecott & Newbery Discussions

Stefanie Sinn


Brooklyn Public Library Mock Caldecott Presenters

The Caldecott and Newbery Awards are upon us yet again and for months, children’s book bloggers and librarians alike have been speculating as to who will ultimately come out on top. There was a substantial crop of worthy contenders and, as always, opinions were vociferous and varied. The Caldecott Medal is awarded yearly to the illustrator of the most distinguished picture book for children. The Newbery Medal, also awarded yearly, goes to the author of the most distinguished contribution to literature for children.

Fun Fact: 2022 marks the 100th anniversary of the Newbery Medal!

Many library systems and schools across the country host their own mock elections and Brooklyn Public Library is no exception. Every year, BPL’s Children’s Book Showcase Committee hosts the library’s own mock awards discussions. Hosting the discussions presented some unique adjustments this year as we were unable to meet in person. Using the virtual meeting platform Zoom, we created breakout rooms to host more intimate discussions. Getting the titles into the hands of participants was also more difficult this year. Physical books are at a premium within the system so our buying department helped supply extra eBook and eAudiobook licenses for all of the shortlisted titles. Lastly, we missed our traditional snacks, refreshments and pizza! All told, about 50 staff members from across the system and in varying titles attended each of the discussions. Here are the results.

Mock Caldecott Winner

We Are Water Protectors written by Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Goade
2021 Caldecott Medal Winner

Through beautiful watercolor illustrations that seem to swim across the page, We Are Water Protectors, explores our relationship to water and how we can protect this most precious natural resource from harm. This #ownvoices book draws on the rich history of environmental activism within Indigenous communities.

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Mock Caldecott Honors
Book Cover: Me And Mama
Me And Mama written and illustraed by Cozbi A. Cabrera
2021 Caldecott Honor Winner
2021 Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Honor Book Award

A vibrant and expertly illustrated exploration of a loving mother-daughter relationship.

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Book Cover: Black Is A Rainbow Color
Black Is A Rainbow Color written by Angela Joy, illustrated by Ekua Holmes

Previous Caldecott honoree and Coretta Scott King winner, Ekua Holmes’ illustrations celebrate the depth and evolution of Black culture and history as seen through the eyes of a child.

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Book Cover: Hike
Hike written and illustrated by Pete Oswald

In this nearly wordless picture book, a father and child reenact a longstanding family tradition in nature.

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For even more exceptional picture book titles, check out the Bklyn 2021 Mock Caldecott Shortlist.

Brooklyn Public Library Mock Newbery Presenters

Mock Newbery Winner

Book Cover: Everything Sad Is Untrue
Everything Sad Is Untrue written by Daniel Nayeri
2021 Michael L. Printz Award

Middle schooler, Daniel, plays Scheherazade, spinning tales for his teacher through a series of what turn out to be writing prompts. Born in Iran, Daniel recounts fantastic tales from the annals of his family’s history, memories of relatives, and the very real and harrowing story of how he, his mother and older sister came to be stateside. Set in the early 1990s, during the first Iraq war, in the middle of Oklahoma, Everything Sad Is Untrue is an elegy that will keep you on your toes. Simply beautiful!

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Mock Newbery Honors

Book Cover: King and the Dragonflies
King and the Dragonflies written by Kacen Callender
2021 Coretta Scott King (Author) Honor Award Book

12-year-old Kingston is grieving the loss of his older brother - who he is convinced turned into a dragonfly - as well as the loss of his friendship with Sandy Sanders - who is gay. A tale of self-discovery told through King’s heartbreakingly authentic voice, set against a steamy Louisiana backdrop.

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Book Cover: Show Me A Sign
Show Me A Sign written by Ann Clare LeZotte
Schneider Family Book Award Middle Grade (11-13)

Historical fiction set shortly after the American Revolution, centering on a young girl, Mary Lambert, who is part of the deaf community that lived on Martha’s Vineyard at that time. Partly a story of community - especially between the white settlers and the Wampanoag people - and part harrowing tale of kidnap and escape!

Check the Catalog


For even more great chapter books and middle grade titles, check out the Bklyn 2021 Mock Newbery Shortlist.

The official winners were announced on Monday, January 25  at the 2021 Youth Media Awards which are presented at the ALA Midwinter Conference. For a list of winners and to watch a playback go here. You can also visit ALA’s streaming platform, or ALA’s social media channels, including Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter, by following hashtag #alayma.

To see mock election results from librarians across the country, visit the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) Blog.


This blog post reflects the opinions of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of Brooklyn Public Library.


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