thoughts on…the Caldecott Medal

Every year, the Caldecott Medal is given to the artist who has created the most distinguished American picture book for children, published in the United States.  The Caldecott Medal is the companion medal to the Newbery, which I talked about last week, and as such is one of the two highest awards given in children’s literature here in the U.S.

About 15 years after the Newbery was established, many people felt that the artists who were responsible for creating picture books for children were not being adequately recognized for their work.  Therefore, in 1937, the American Library Association also began awarding the Caldecott.  Caldecott Honors books are also named to several runners-up.

The work these incredible artist/illustrators have produced is so fantastic, it is almost impossible to choose what images to feature in my blog today!!  There is an immense variety in styles.  

Artwork communicates at least half of the story in a picture book.
 It pops with magic, it sparks imagination, it delights eyes;
it sometimes fizzes with color,
other times carries us to historic places, or exotic places, or fantastical places;
it ridicules or lends pomposity or charm or sorrow to the characters created by the author. 
What a magnificent gift each of these artists has given to us.

This medal was also named after an Englishman.  Randolph Caldecott was a popular children’s illustrator in Victorian England.  His first children’s book was undertaken when another famous illustrator, Walter Crane, was not free to do the work on a book called “The Diverting Story of John Gilpin,” and Caldecott stepped in and did the job.  As a matter of fact, it is an illustration from this book which decorates the front of the medal.  At any rate, his work was so happily received by the public that a tradition sprang up around him, with children eagerly awaiting two little books sold every Christmas which were illustrated by him.  Hurrah for Mr. Caldecott! 

Again, here’s a link to all the Caldecott Medal winners since 1938, except for the 2010 winner which is Jerry Pinkney’s stunning version of Aesop’s fable, The Lion and the Mouse.  Enjoy!