Fresh from a triumphant ALA mid-winter experience with Caldecott Award Committee, Dr. Henrietta M. Smith met on January 22, 2010 with members of the Florida Children and Youth Librarians Network. Some of those in attendance had participated in a Mock Caldecott with Dr. Smith and were interested in details about the process. During the session the attendees were able to skim the THICK book of notes on titles and descriptive material about the over 500 books that were submitted as contestants. Rules of procedure during the deliberation were shared, such as the discussion levels, time constraints, confidentiality, and especially the balloting process. From the final nearly 70 books as finalists, the committee chose One winner, Lion and the Mouse illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. Jerry Pinkney will go down in Caldecott Award history as the first African American to win the award as an individual and the award is 72 years old!
Two Honor books were selected: All the World and Red Sings from the Treetops. Dr. Smith brought for their perusal, the winners as well as a couple of titles that had been heavily discussed. During question and answer time, the attendees were made aware of the need to be able to separate a well done “concept book” from one that is judged for its high quality artistic merit. They were reminded that committee members were advised to study titles of those who wrote texts about judging illustrations in children’s books as a reminder that what looked “pretty” was not enough. The advice ranged from looking at end papers, to tightness of gutters on a double page spread to the use of type fonts and much more. The session closed with remarks that indicated that one never really thought of the depth of responsibility that was wrapped up in being a member of one ALA’s most prestigious award committees – a committee charged with selected the BEST picture book published in the United States in any given year! As is her wont, Dr. Smith included in her presentation, information about the winners of the Coretta Scott King Award, an award with which she has had long association.