This article appears on School Library Journal.com. I'm not surprised at the debate around Hugo Cabret's eligibility for the Caldecott, although it does not match the level of controversy which met Sue Patron's Newbery for The Higher Power of Lucky last year. But it seems clear that there is a preconceived--or perhaps preapproved?--idea of what constitutes a picture book, and "Invention" deviates from that in a big way. But if you read the terms and criteria for the Caldecott medal, as specified by the American Library Association, then it is hard to argue that "Invention" is not a picture book.
A "picture book for children" as distinguished from other books with illustrations, is one that essentially provides the child with a visual experience. A picture book has a collective unity of story-line, theme, or concept, developed through the series of pictures of which the book is comprised.
That's the first criteria. And since I feel that for the reader The Invention of Hugo Cabret is all about an experience, I'm won over with the very first point. And besides, who could begrudge such a magnificent book this honor?