The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Pragmatic Mom, caldecott

Top 10: Caldecott Winners 2000-2010 & My Caldecott Collection

Best Illustrated Picture Books: Caldecott Winners

I went on a quest to improve my Caldecott collection and bought these 5 books last month for a surprising sum of only $50 as they were all on sale at Amazon for nearly 50% off. We are all enjoying them now.

The Three Pigs by (genius) David Wiesner. The cover and title are deceiving because this is not your grandmother’s 3 little pig story at all! In the hands of David Weisner, this is the sequel to his book, Tuesday. The pigs are building houses, true, but they are also able to remove themselves from the actual pages of the book and wander hither and yon through fairy tales and nursery rhymes until the wolf gets the surprise of his life. Truly amazing illustration and a delightful spin on a old favorite.

Flotsam by David Wiesner. My 5th grader requested this book recently. She wants to attend RISD one day which is Wiener’s alma mater. This is a wordless picture book that is quite amazing. I made my husband read it and he was reluctant because he was in the middle of reading his own book, but he put his own book aside and spent ten minutes carefully paging though this book. His conclusion? “Yes honey, this is an amazing book.” Gorgeously illustrated and telling the story of a chain of events going way back in history in which an old camera washes up on shore and the people this camera encounters on both on earth and below in the ocean. It sparks the imagination in every way possible.

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein. Technically this won a Caldecott honor but it won a ton of other top awards so I wanted to check it out. Like The Three Pigs by Weisner, this book delightfully spins well known fables to hilarious results. As a notorious interruptor myself, I can relate to the little red chicken as he decides to bypass the usual plot of fables and spin a new brief ending to each story. The little guy then decides to write his own story to get them both to sleep.

The Lion and The Mouse by Jerry Pickney. In this picture book, the fable stays true to its story line but the twist is the watercolor illustrations that are so detailed that one mom who saw this book at my school’s book fair thought the pictures were photographs. Pickney says in his author’s note that he was inspired by how both animals are equally large at heart, “the courageous mouse, and the lion who must rise above his beastly nature to set his small prey free.” My favorite medium to paint in is watercolor so I selfishly bought this book just to study how Pickney uses this medium to such spectacular results. It’s like studying the Renaissance masters!

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead. Let me be honest: I was rooting for David Wiesner’s Art and Max to win this year’s Caldecott and I do feel that perhaps he lost because it would have been an unprecedented 4th time which may have been a tough political sell. This is a sweet story about a grandfather type who spends his days working and visiting with the animals at the zoo but the day he is sick, they come to him. I particularly love stories that feature grandfather types because my kids don’t have any living grandfathers in their lives. As an artist, the drawings, especially of Amos’ face, are delicately, intricately, and beautifully rendered with small washes of color that seem crayoned in. The juxtaposition of subtle pencil illustration detail with rough color patches make this picture book visually but subtly arresting and there in lies the genius. I am glad to have this book in my library but I still think Art and Max should have won, but hey, I wasn’t on the committee.

To view any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.


I am a little dismayed at how few Caldecott picture books I own so I am posting on the last decade in order to beef up my own collection which I shall purchase myself.  I only own Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes which was a gift my son received for his 3rd birthday.  I checked out Flotsam by David Weisner several times and my oldest and I LOVE it so it’s high time we own it.  I also read The Lion & The Mouse by Jerry Pickney and All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon at the bookstore and they were both quite good.

So, for my birthday and mother’s day, I am going to ask for this collection of Caldecott picture books for our library.  Is that a strange present request?  In light that I’ve asked for smart wool socks, knit cap, and snow pants (now de rigueur for dog walking), I think this is actually less strange in that I can read them with all my kids simultaneously.  My oldest will appreciate the art work.  My youngest is reading several picture books a day. And my middle will be able to enjoy an entire story in one short sitting which is good because she’s quite squirmy.  And I will be the happiest of all because I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE picture books!

And all that talk in the New York Times about the diminishing sales of picture books? Well, I’ll help to turn that around!  Which books are your favorites? Let’s put a Top 10 List together.  Please leave a comment with your favorite Caldecott picture book (honor books or winners).  Thanks!

2010 The Lion & the Mouse , illustrated and written by Jerry Pinkney

The Lion & the Mouse, Caldecott Winner, Pragmatic Mom

2009 The House in the Night, illustrated by Beth Krommes, written by Susan Marie Swanson

The House in the Night, caldecott, pragmatic mom

2008 The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Pragmatic Mom, caldecott

2007 Flotsam by David Wiesner

Flotsam, Caldecott Winner, David Weisner, Pragmatic Mom

2006 The Hello, Goodbye Window illustrated by Chris Raschka and written by Norton Juster

The Hello, Goodbye Window, Caldecott Winner, Pragmatic Mom

2005 Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes

Kitten's First Full Moon, Caldecott Winner, Kevin Henkes,

2004 The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, Caldecott,, pragmatic mom

2003 My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann

My Friend Rabbit, caldecott, pragmatic mom

2002The Three Pigss by David Wiesner

The Three Pigs , caldecott, weisner, pragmatic mom

2001 So You Want to Be President? Illustrated by David Small, written by Judith St. George

So You Want to Be President? caldecott pragmatic mom

2000 Joseph Had a Little Overcoat Simms Taback

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat caldecott pragmatic mom pragmaticmom

Of the winners and honor books, these are the books we’ve owned.

Some were gifts; some were purchased at yard sales;  some were book club selections; and some were rejected by my kids and donated; and most I’ve never get rid of.

2009 A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever by Marla Frazee

2008 The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

2005 Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes (it’s a sweet book, best for preschoolers and toddlers)

2006 Zen Shorts illustrated and written by Jon J. Muth

2004 Ella Sarah Gets Dressed by Margaret Chodos-Irvine

2004 What Do You Do with a Tail Like This?illustrated and written by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

2004 Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems

2002 Martin’s Big Words: the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Doreen Rappaport

2002 The Stray Dog by Marc Simont

2001 Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type illustrated by Betsy Lewin, written by Doreen Cronin

2001 Olivia by Ian Falconer

2000 When Sophie Gets Angry-Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang

1999 No, David! by David Shannon

1998 The Gardener illustrated by David Small, written by Sarah Stewart

1996 Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann (love this one, sooo funny!)

1996 Tops & Bottoms , adapted and illustrated by Janet Stevens

1994 Owen by Kevin Henkes

1993 Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully (love this series!)

1990 Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China by Ed Young (the ending is different from our version and my kids did not like it!)

1986 The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg (a Christmas classic!)

1980 Ox-Cart Man , illustrated by Barbara Cooney; text: Donald Hall (I love this book but my kids think that it’s boring)

1979 The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble (I love the illustrations but we don’t read this very often)

1977 Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions , illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon; text: Margaret Musgrove (my kids did not like this book)

1973 The Funny Little Woman , illustrated by Blair Lent; text: retold by Arlene Mosel (This is a fun book; I wonder where it is hiding?)

1971 Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel

1970 Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig (A favorite!)

1970 Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse by Leo Lionni

1968 Drummer Hoff , illustrated by Ed Emberley; text: adapted by Barbara Emberley (love this one; gorgeous woodcut prints.  My youngest loved it!)

1968 Frederick by Leo Lionni

1965 May I Bring a Friend? illustrated by Beni Montresor; text: Beatrice Schenk de Regniers (My youngest liked this book but not my middle child)

1964 Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (Love this book!  And so did all my kids!)

1963 The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (We all love this series)

1962 Little Bear’s Visit , illustrated by Maurice Sendak; text: Else H. Minarik

1959 Umbrella by Taro Yashima

1958 Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey (This book is actually quite boring)

1958 Anatole and the Cat , illustrated by Paul Galdone; text: Eve Titus

1957 Anatole , illustrated by Paul Galdone; text: Eve Titus

1954 Madeline’s Rescue by Ludwig Bemelmans (I didn’t know this won a Caldecott.  We have the series.  My girls loved all the Madeline books)

1953 One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey

1951 If I Ran the Zoo by Dr. Seuss, pseud. [Theodor Seuss Geisel]

1950 Song of the Swallows by Leo Politi (My kids thought this was boring)

1950 Bartholomew and the Oobleck by Dr. Seuss, pseud. [Theodor Seuss Geisel]

1949 Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

1942 Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey (We live outside Boston, so this is required reading! Do you know all the ducklings’ names?)

1940 Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Man, that’s hard, to narrow it down to a top 10 list….
    We just re-read a lot of these because this past summer we had a reading program where we were reading children’s books from the past 50 years in honor of the 50th anniversary of our local library. So if I HAD to pick 10, these would be my choices:
    (But first my caveats. Most of these are really for body of work. Some are not my favorite of that author–but I liked it, but REALLY liked others they had done, and that put it on my favorites list more than just the book listed. Finally, I restricted myself to only one book per author.)

    So, my top 10 Caldecott list, at least for today, would be (from oldest to newest):

    Bartholomew and the Oobleck by Dr. Seuss, pseud. [Theodor Seuss Geisel]
    The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
    Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
    Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti , adapted and illustrated by Gerald McDermott
    The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
    Tuesday by David Wiesner
    Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young
    In the Small, Small Pond by Denise Fleming
    What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? illustrated and written by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
    Zen Shorts illustrated and written by Jon J. Muth

    Hard, but interesting question–

    • To Carol,
      Thanks so much for sharing your Top 10 Caldecott list and you clearly are an expert in this field!

      I don’t own Anansi the Spider but saw it on Reading Rainbow, Seven Blind Mice, and In the Small, Small Pond. I must get those!!! Thanks again!

  2. Angela

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. As you probably saw, we haven’t read nearly as many of these yet as we hope to. Asking for books doesn’t sound like a strange present request to me. In fact, I may do the same thing! At this point, my top 10 would be:

    Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin
    The Little House
    Lon Po Po
    Frog and Toad are Friends
    Fables by Arnold Lobel
    Make Way for Ducklings
    Click Clack Moo, Cows That Type
    There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly
    The Lion & the Mouse
    Kitten’s First Full Moon

    • To Angela,
      Thank you so much for sharing your list. I love Arnold Lobel but I missed the Fables book. I will definitely get a copy of that. Your list has such sweet books! I love them!

  3. Suzan

    I have always loved the Caldecott winners and don’t know if I could pick a top 10. Although, I think Madeline remains my all time favorite! I loved sharing her with my daughter.

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