Caldecott Contenders – Giant Squid

In the lead up to the announcement of the 2017 ALA Book and Media Awards announcements, teachers and librarians across North America (and perhaps the world?) gathered to discuss, share, compare and predict which of the past year’s many fantastic books would take home some illustrious hardware.

Being a picture book fanatic, the award announcement that I always await with bated breath is the Caldecott, which is awarded “by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.” It’s basically the “Best Picture” Oscar for picture books, and in the library community it’s a pretty big deal. 

Trying to pick the very best picture book each year is no easy feat, and my librarian colleagues and I definitely struggled to narrow down our top five favourites, let alone our number one choice!

By the time this post is published the 2017 winner will have been announced, but what about all the other amazing picture books that were contenders for this year’s award? Well, this is a rather long-winded way of introducing my next couple of posts, which will be dedicated to sharing some of the books that my colleagues and I identified as strong contenders for the award.

And what better way to start than with a poetic ode to a terrifying denizen of the deep?

Giant Squid by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann

The giant squid is one of the most elusive creatures in the world. As large as whales, they hide beyond reach deep within the sea, forcing scientists to piece together their story from those clues they leave behind.

An injured whale’s ring-shaped scars indicate an encounter with a giant squid. A piece of beak broken off in the whale’s belly; a flash of ink dispersed as a blinding defense to allow the squid to escape– these fragments of proof were all we had . . . until a giant squid was finally filmed in its natural habitat only two years ago.

In this beautiful and clever nonfiction picture book about the giant squid, Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann explore, both visually and poetically, this hidden creature’s mysterious life.

Whether or not this stunning informational text takes home some Caldecott hardware, it should hopefully be a strong contender for ALA’s nonfiction award, the Silberts.

The sparse, poetic text introduces the mysterious giant squid, and the illustrations – oh, the illustrations!

Holy moly! If that image doesn’t grab you, I don’t know what will. That eye…it’s like it’s staring right into your soul….yikes!

As a longtime proponent of nonfiction as a valid option for recreational reading, I am always thrilled to discover informational texts like Giant Squid that introduce children to facts and figures in a gripping, visually stunning way. The world is an unimaginably incredible place, far stranger than fiction, full of so much wonder and mystery. Nonfiction does not have to be dry and boring, and can be just as absorbing and exhilarating as any story.  

Giant Squid – take the plunge and jump into the story of a wondrous and mysterious denizen of the deep, dark sea.