Caldecott Contenders – The Airport Book

Well, the 2017 ALA award winner and the honourees have been announced – did any of your favourites take home some hardware? The thing about awards is that they’re very subjective. The Caldecott award committee assesses contenders with specific guidelines in mind, but there’s still plenty of room for individual preferences, opinions and decisions to come into play. In other words, if your favourite picture book of the year didn’t come away with a medal, it’s still a winner! Just not a Caldecott winner. 😉

One title that popped up again and again on Mock Caldecott lists in schools and libraries, and which was a favourite with kids and grownups (which isn’t always the case), was The Airport Book by Lisa Brown. Though it didn’t make the top of the awards chart, this diverse, adorable, inclusive picture book is definitely a winner in my books.

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The Airport Book follows an interracial family as they set off on a plane journey to visit Grandma. The text is minimal, but the illustrations are brimming with colour, activity and life. There’s just so much on each spread to explore and enjoy!

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For families preparing for an air plane journey, The Airport Book walks children through the different steps of the trip, including going through security and checking in luggage, and could make for an extremely useful tool in helping to allay fears or jitters.

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The illustrations aren’t just colourful, they’re truly inclusive. One of my colleagues is a disability advocate, and she is very aware of disability tokenism in books – the inclusion of a character with a disability who doesn’t actually serve a purpose in the story other than as a means of getting attention, pacifying critics or winning accolades. In The Airport Book, a character in a wheelchair is shown throughout the entire book – she’s not simply thrown into a scene and then ignored, but is actually depicted as a fellow traveller who shares the same travel experience as our protagonists.  Now that’s inclusive!

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With so much to see and explore, The Airport Book really is a winner, at least when it comes to young readers!