Every year, about this time, we start to see lots of posts and comments online about the upcoming ALA awards.  It’s one of my favorite seasons for this very reason. I love following the blogs, engaging in discussions about the frontrunners, learning from what other people have to say.  I like to read prediction posts, and to hear about the mock Caldecott clubs around the country. I like to discover new books.

But every year I’m a little dismayed by how overwhelmingly women illustrators seem to get overlooked in early Caldecott conversations.

To be clear– I LOVE the books that win.  I love the men who (mostly) make the books that win. Many of these men are my friends, and I believe that they are talented and creative and brilliant and worthy of awards. ABSOLUTELY.  Last year, despite all my ranting about gender-bias, my own top pick for the medal was illustrated by  a man.


I also believe women are worthy. Yet, somehow, when we start to generate buzz within our own little community, we PREDICT success for men.  Which creates a certain sense of inevitability.

How does it begin? I don’t know. Maybe there are more marketing dollars for dudes.  Maybe men are more inclined to illustrate.  Maybe we, the women who buy most of the books, simply adore dudes.  Maybe men are more inclined to make “Caldecott-style” illustrations. Or maybe MEN ARE SIMPLY BETTER AT ART THAN WOMEN AND I AM WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING I HAVE EVER SAID ON THE MATTER.

In any case, it happens.  Statistically.


Last year I made this list of AMAZING PICTURE BOOKS CREATED BY WOMEN. It was great fun, and I heard from a lot of folks that they were introduced to books they hadn’t seen before. I know some folks even sold a few books via the list.

So I invite you to help me make a 2014 edition, by leaving a comment below, with your very favorite woman-illustrated picture book of the year.  OR BY VOTING ON THIS HANDY GOODREADS LIST! Please don’t self-nominate or self-promote in this space.  If you’ve truly created something awesome, no doubt someone else will mention it for you!  Just link to your favorite book in a comment, and I’ll pull an image of the cover, and add it below.

And if you’re a list-maker yourself, a blogger or journalist or librarian who runs a mock Caldecott… and you find yourself with a dude-heavy list, consider adding a few women  to the mix. If women-illustrated titles don’t jump immediately to mind, you might want to ask yourself why that is…

I’ll kick things off myself, with a few favorites of my own:

A BOY AND A JAGUAR, by Alan Rabinowitz, illustrations by Catia Chien

LIFE, LIBERTY, and the PURSUIT of EVERYTHING, by Maira Kalman

TELEPHONE, by Mac Barnett, illustrations by Jen Corace

NANA IN THE CITY, by Lauren Castillo

FIREFLY JULY, by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrations by Melissa Sweet

EXTRAORDINARY JANE, by Hannah E Harrison

AVIARY WONDERS, INC, by Kate Samworth

FLIGHT SCHOOL, by Lita Judge

VIVA FRIDA, by Yuyi MOrales

FLASHLIGHT, by Lizi Boyd

A PIECE OF CAKE, by LeUyen Pham

THE IRIDESCENCE OF BIRDS, by Patricia MacLaughlan, illustrations by Hadley Hooper

THE RIGHT WORD, ROGET AND HIS THESAURUS, by Jen Bryant, illustrations by Melissa Sweet

THE TROUBLEMAKER, by Lauren Castillo

QUEEN ON WEDNESDAY, by Gabi Swietkowska

WATER WATER WATER, by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace



BEFORE WE EAT, by Pat Brisson, illustrations by Mary Azarian

LOUISE LOVES ART, by Kelly Light

THE NUMBERLYS, by William Joyce, illustrations by Christina Ellis

FROODLE, by Antoinette Portis

SHOE DOG, by Katherine Tillotson

WHERE’S MOMMY? by Beverly Donofrio, illustrations by Barbara McClintock

EL DEAFO, by Cece Bell

THIS ORQ (HE CAVEBOY), by David Elliott, illustrations by Lori Nichols

THE BABY TREE, by Sophie Blackall


MAPLE, by Lori Nichols


ONCE UPON A MEMORY, by Nina Laden, illustrations by Renata Liwska


THE PROMISE, by Nicola Davies, illustration by Laura Carlin


UNI THE UNICORN, by Amy Krause Rosenthal, illustrations by Brigette Barrager


DON’T TURN THE PAGE, by Rachelle Burk, illustrations by Julie Downing

THE JACKET, by Kirsten Hall, illustrations by Dasha Tolstikova

TWO SPECKLED EGGS, by Jennifer K Mann

HENNY, by Elizabeth Rose Stanton

EARLY BIRD, by Toni Yuly

KING FOR A DAY, by  Rukhsana Khan, illustrations by Christiane Kromer

EMILY’S BLUE PERIOD, by Cathleen Daly, illustrations by Lisa Brown

DAY DREAMERS, by Emily Martin

HERE IS THE BABY, by Polly Kanvesky, illustrations by Taeeun Yoo

Please Louise, by Toni and Slade Morrison, illustrations by Shadra Strickland

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, by H. Chuku Lee, illustrations by Pat Cummings

I WISH I HAD A PET, by Maggie Rudy


HERE COMES THE EASTER CAT, by Deborah Underwood, illustrations by Claudia Rueda

EDGAR’S SECOND WORD, by Audrey Vernick, illustrations by Priscilla Burris

ZOE’S JUNGLE, by Bethanie Deeney Murguia

SUMMONING THE PHOENIX, by Emily Jiang, illustrations by April Chu

SLEEPYHEADS, by Sandra J Howatt, illustrations by Joyce Wan

NAKED< by Michael Ian Black, illustrations by Debbie Ohi

CATNAPPED, by Leeza Hernandez

PUDDLE PUG, by Kim NOrman, illustrations by Keika Yamaguchi

MR. CORNELL’S DREAM BOXES, by Jeanette Winter

29 Responses to “WOMEN MAKE PICTURE BOOKS TOO: the 2014 edition…”

  1. Matt Phelan Says:

    A Piece of Cake by LeUyen Pham!

  2. madelyn Says:

    I realize this might officially come out today, but thought I’d include The Right Word, Melissa Sweet. http://www.eerdmans.com/Products/5385/the-right-word.aspx Also Maple (Lori Nichols). I never know if graphic novels count or not, but it is my dream for El Deafo (Cece Bell) to win big.

  3. madelyn Says:

    Oh, and Louise Loves Art!

  4. madelyn Says:

    And the Numberlys…

  5. laurel Says:

    I don’t see why Cece couldn’t win it! How awesome would that be?

  6. laurel Says:

    I’m pulling over a bunch of FB suggestions too, btw, these aren’t all mine…

  7. Kelly Barnhill Says:

    If Selznick could win for HUGO CABRET, I don’t see why El Deafo would somehow be out of the running. Picture books are wild and diverse and MIGHTY.

  8. :paula Says:

    I love Louise Loves Art! But man, it is TIME for Melissa Sweet to get a Caldecott. I am TEAM MELISSA SWEET this year. We’ll see. I think Beekle is the monster to beat, and Beekle is a very strong contender.

  9. Bridget Says:

    This may be a *teensy* bit self-promotion, as the illustrator is my boss’s client, but I had no hand in it and would think it was a gorgeous book anyway:
    WHERE’S MOMMY? by Beverly Donofrio and illustrated by Barbara McClintock http://www.randomhouse.com/book/41968/wheres-mommy-by-beverly-donofrio

  10. laurel Says:

    I think we’ll allow it.


  11. Kelly Says:

    I don’t think this one is Caldecott eligible, but I read this book and thought it was really unique! It’s called Nancy Knows by Cybele Young.


  12. Sara Says:

    So many beautiful books! And what a fantastic project, Laurel.

  13. Tina Kugler Says:

    PUDDLE PUG illustrated by Keika Yamaguchi

    CAT NAPPED by Leeza Hernandez

    NAKED illustrated by Debbie Ohi

  14. Tina Kugler Says:

    And SLEEPYHEADS illustrated by Joyce Wan!

  15. Suzanne Says:

    Thank you for this incredible list! There are lots of books I haven’t seen yet and will be requesting from the library immediately.

  16. Mike Jung Says:

    HERE COMES THE EASTER CAT and HERE COMES SANTA CAT, written by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Claudia Rueda.

  17. Mike Jung Says:

    SUMMONING THE PHOENIX, written by Emily Jiang, illustrated by April Chu; ZOE’S JUNGLE, written and illustrated by Bethanie Murguia; EDGAR’S SECOND WORD, written by Audrey Vernick and illustrated by Priscilla Burris.

  18. Julie Rowan-Zoch Says:

    I have been discussing this very subject with the children’s librarians here! Not an American, but…A Lion in Paris, Beatrice Alemagna, Enchanted Lion 2014.

  19. :paula Says:

    I went to Goodreads to make a list – everything mentioned here that I hadn’t already read I wanted to – but I see you’ve beat me to it Laurel!


    Also – Matt Phelan – Druthers is adorable. And Lisa Brown the art in Emily’s Blue Period has me savoring every line and detail. “Savor” is a dumb word. There’s got to be a non-disgusting way of saying I am licking it with my eyeballs.

  20. Melissa Says:

    Wow, just saw this, Laurel. Thanks for putting it together. There are some on here I still need to read!

  21. Suzanne Says:

    Please add Water Rolls, Water Rises by Pat Mora, illustrated by Meilo So. It took my breath away!

  22. Lisa Brown Says:

    So many of my favorites have already been mentioned and they may not be eligible, but there’s a wonderful book written and illustrated by Laura Carlin called “A World of Your Own,” Phaidon 2014. And At the Same Moment, Around the World by Clotilde Perrin, Chronicle. Also “Julia Child” by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Julie Morstad, Tundra 2014 and Queen Victoria’s Bathing Machine by Gloria Whelan and Nancy Carpenter (illustrator), Simon & Schuster 2014.

  23. Beth Panageotou Says:

    Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance: Birgitta Sif
    Bear Hug: Katherine McEwen
    A Library Book for Bear: illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton (by Bonny Becker)

  24. Abigail Says:

    Thanks for compiling this list!

  25. Stacey Says:

    SO MANY FAVORITES of mine from the past year are on here. I loved Sophie Blackall, Melissa Sweet, and Kelly Light’s work (just to name a few)!

  26. Kate Says:

    Terrific list! I mean really, really good list. Lots of luminaries as well as newbies. So glad to see titles I’d never heard of before but will now check out. Thank you for this post! I couldn’t agree more!

  27. Lauri Fortino Says:

    You have to check out Outside by Deirdre Gill. Exquisite!

  28. Robyn Campbell Says:

    LOVE this post, Laurel! What a list. I was particularly interested in the newbies. Thank you for doing this. I need to add this as a reference in our group. March 8th is International Women’s Day. This should be reposted then.

  29. Ruth McNally Barshaw Says:

    Great list, Laurel — I see some favorites on it, and a few I hadn’t seen before. Thanks!

Leave a Reply