Best Christmas Picture Books Published in 2016

A few years ago, I highlighted 24 of our favorite picture books in the post Christmas Books – One to Twenty Four.  I need to add two books to this list.  The best Christmas books published in 2016 are The Christmas Boot and Stowaway In A Sleigh.  ML’s reached the age where she doesn’t want to cuddle in my bed reading picture books.  However, she agreed to join me for a reading of The Christmas Boot.  Tonight, I’ll try for Stowaway in a Sleigh.



The Christmas Boot by Lisa Wheeler and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney



Stowaway in a Sleigh by C. Roger Mader

And the Winners Are…


I am sure a Caldecott Medal has never been awarded as quickly as ML and Calvin did.  It only took fifteen minutes.  They whittled the choices down to five titles.  Then, two.  They were digging their feet in; and I knew a consensus would never be reached.  I didn’t want to hear their arguing.  So I let them each choose a book.

ML’s choice was Hello, My Name is Ruby by Philip Stead. Her reasoning… it’s really colorful… he mixes colors together… the background’s pretty… like how he uses birds.

Calvin’s choice was Journey by Aaron Becker.  He explained… it was kind of a copy of Harold and the Purple Crayon… a really cool story… could really tell the story from the illustrations.

I explained sometimes books are chosen to receive a Caldecott Honor.  ML and Calvin quickly agreed on which two titles they wanted to name as Caldecott Honor books.


Locomotive by Brian Floca


Papa’s Mechanical Fish by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Boris Kulikov

I didn’t receive two books from our Mock Caldecott 2014 list before the “committee” met.  Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown and The Tortoise & the Hare by Jerry Pinkney were not in the mix.  So if one of those two titles win, Calvin and ML can claim it would have been their choice.  They were very interested in what they would get if they chose the book which received the Caldecott Medal.  I told them, “Bragging rights.”

Mock Caldecott 2014 List

Below are the books, I am hoping ML and her friend, Calvin will look at this weekend for their Mock Caldecott Award.  I’m still waiting on a few to come from other library branches.  So they may not have a chance to win.

One really cool aspect of our multimedia world is many illustrators have videos showing them creating their work.  This post includes links to these.  And a quick note if I know the mediums used to create the illustrations.


Hello, My Name is Ruby by  Philip Stead – Mixed media… chalk pastel, colored pencils, and colored ink


If You Want to See a Whale written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Erin Stead – Pencil and linoleum prints


Journey by Aaron Becker – Watercolor


Little Red Writing by Joan Holub and Melissa Sweet – Watercolor, pencil and collage


Locomotive by Brian Floca – Pen and ink, watercolor, acrylic, and gouache.  Scroll to the bottom of the following like to watch 3 short videos on the process and a view of a book dummy


Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown –   still trying to determine mediums


Mr. Wuffles by David Wiesner – Water color and ink line


Papa’s Mechanical Fish by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Boris Kulikov – mixed media


Stardines by Jack Prelutsky and illustrated by Carin Berger – shadow boxes, diorama and cut-paper


That Is Not a Good Idea by Mo Willems – pencil and watercolor with additional digital color and compositing


Tortoise & the Hare by Jerry Pinkney – Watercolor

Looking forward to seeing if one of the Stead books are chosen or a book with Mr. in it’s title.  I feel more confident in predicting which books I think the Caldecott committee will pick for the award and honors; than I do guessing what ML and Calvin will choose.  It’s going to be fun hearing two first-graders opinion.

Jerry Pinkney and Aidan


Jerry Pinkney has illustrated over 100 book since the 1960s.  I haven’t read them all, but I’m working on it.

He  received the 2010 Caldecott Award for The Lion & the Mouse.  He’s also received the Caldecott Honor five times for Noah’s Ark, Mirandy and Brother Wind, The Talking Eggs:  A Folktale from the American South, The Ugly Ducking and John Henry.   The only illustrator to win more Caldecott Honors is Maurice Sendak of Where the Wild Things Are fame.

Jerry Pinkney’s most recent book The Tortoise and the Hare is my top choice for the Caldecott.  I know I keep naming books I want to win the 2014 award.  After reading this book with ML, my vote is decided.  She was mesmerized.  Mr. Pinkney set his version of the Tortoise and the Hare in the Southwest desert. His biggest challenge was making the characters pop off the page where survival depends on camouflage.  The solution – dress the animals in clothes. But not too many clothes.  The hare wears a vest and the tortoise dons a hat and bandanna.  Other animal’s clothes include top hats, bowlers and bonnets  All the clothes were popular in the past.  The result – a timeless feel just like the story itself.

While researching for this post, I learned that Jerry Pinkney suffered reading difficulties.  Most likely dyslexia.  You can read about his experience on the Learning Differences portion of his website.  Soon after, my friend wrote a piece featured in the New York Times titled Children With Learning Disabilities Don’t Need More Opportunity to Fail about her son’s struggle with dyslexia.

I know Liisa won’t mind me highlighting her advice to parents because I asked her.

“If you see your child struggling to read and write during those early elementary years, get in there and investigate. We know so much more today about how the brain works. And soon we may also better understand how dyslexics like Thomas Edison, Charles Schwab, Albert Einstein and many others, exercised the strengths conferred by their seeming disability.  Recognize when it’s O.K. to let your child fail, and when it’s not.”

I didn’t ask Jerry Pinkney, but I don’t he will mind me quoting his advice to those with learning challenges. “For the young person who is struggling in school, never forget there are many different ways to learn.  Be curious.  Do not be afraid to try.  Do not be disappointed when making mistakes.  You will discover your own unique way of understanding the things being taught.  Learn from mistakes.  Everything that happens to you will frame who you are, and who you will become.  Your path to success will follow.”

Luckily for Jerry Pinkney standardized tests weren’t a part of his childhood.  Thankfully for Aidan, his parents have the resources to hire specialized tutors.  Even more important, Aidan’s parents encourage him to focus on his strengths.  I’m certain Jerry Pinkney had someone doing the same for him.

I wonder who it was?