Top Ten Picture Books Overlooked by the Caldecott


Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish. This week’s theme is Top Ten Underrated Authors or Books in X Genre. The illustrators on my list are hardly underrated: many have won major prizes, including Caldecott Honors.  But each illustrator has a particular book that I find deserving of the big prize itself. This list is very heavy on the 2013 titles because that was an incredible year for picture books.

parrots over puerto rico

Susan Roth’s exquisite torn-paper collages make Cindy Trumbore’s Parrots Over Puerto Rico one of the most beautiful books of 2013.

nino wrestles the world

Yuyi Morales’s lively cartoon style brings the power of imagination to life in Nino Wrestles the World.

boy who loved mathLeUyen Pham’s clever integration of numbers and math in her illustrations conveys Paul Erdos’s obsession with numbers in Deborah Heiligman’s The Boy Who Loved Math.

we are the shipKadir Nelson’s beautiful paintings evoke the particular time period of We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball.


Sophie Blackall found the perfect project for her quirky style in Matthew Olshan’s The Mighty Lalouche.

story of fish and snail

I know I write about Deborah Freedman’s Story of Fish & Snail all the time, but I think her art is brilliant. The image of Snail peering into the watery book that Fish has jumped into is one of my all-time favorite images in a picture book.

matchbox diaryBagram Ibatoulline also found the perfect project for his talents in Paul Fleischman’s The Matchbox Diary.

negro speaks of riversIt’s a daunting task to try to illustrate Langston Hughes’s poem, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” but E.B. Lewis’s paintings manage to add meaning to Hughes’s already powerful lines. The water itself becomes an important character. Evocative, powerful, haunting.

z is forKelly Bingham’s Z Is For Moose is already pretty funny, and Paul Zelinsky’s illustrations add tremendous visual humor.

splash of red

I love all of Melissa Sweet’s books, and she really outdoes herself in A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin. She is true to her own style as an artist even as she introduces us to Pippin’s style.







4 responses to “Top Ten Picture Books Overlooked by the Caldecott”

  1. kaeleighmuir Avatar

    I loved, loved the illustration in Parrots over Puerto Rico! Some of the others you have mentioned I love just from looking at the covers! : )

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Hope you can find some of these at the library! If you’re on campus, you can also borrow from me, as I have most of them in my office lending library. I think the campus library has Mighty Lalouche and Matchbox Diary.

  2. carriegelson Avatar

    I am so with you on many of these. I thought about what I would include before I looked and 3 of your titles were on my list: The Boy who Loved Math, The Mighty Lalouche and The Matchbox Diary! Great “book appreciators” think alike.

  3. […] top ten list of picture books that I wish had won a […]

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