Houses from the Sea by Alice E. Goudey, illustrated by Adrienne Adams. Published 1959. Caldecott Honor 1960.
This is a very well-written non-fiction title about the shells one can find on the beach. The rich, poetic language might lose some kids, but others will delight in the artistic presentation of scientific information. The light colors and brushstrokes of the illustrations create a very wet atmosphere that evokes the seaside in a very visceral way. My favorite page is the one with the wentletraps, where a faint staircase appears behind the fish.
Song of Robin Hood, by Anne Malcomson, illustrated by Virginia Lee Burton. Published 1947. Caldecott Honor 1948.
All I know about Robin Hood comes from movies, so this book was a real treat for me. I loved the language of the songs, and appreciated that the tunes were also included. The illustrations, though tiny in many places, really helped contextualize the various episodes from Robin Hood's life. Kids with a Robin Hood obsession will eat this book up, and I think it's also a great gift for students of Early Modern English. This is one of the few books from this challenge that I don't even really consider a children's book. This book is as much for adults as for kids.
Marguerite de Angeli's Book of Nursery and Mother Goose Rhymes by Marguerite de Angeli. Published 1954. Caldecott Honor 1955.
It is amazing to me how many nursery rhymes there are, and how many I didn't know before reading them in this book. I noticed that death is a strong theme in a lot of them, especially when it comes to animals, and most of them were not anything I'd feel comfortable sharing with my story time audiences. There were a ton of illustrations, and each added its own charm to the book, but my favorites were the images of the babies that accompany "Hush-a-bye, baby" and "Bye, baby bunting."
See other Caldecott Challenge participants' blogs on the challenge page at LibLaura5. Follow my challenge progress here.