10 Things To Know About The Caldecott Medal

Monday, January 28, is a big day in the world of children’s picture books. The 2013 Caldecott Medal will be awarded as well as some honorable mentions. If you aren’t obsessed with children’s books like myself, then you may not care a lick; but in case you want to at least be a little knowledgeable, I am here to help. Here are 10 interesting things to know about the Caldecott Medal:

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some winning books: (clockwise) A Sick Day for Amos McGee, Erin Stead; Office Buckle and Gloria, Peggy Rathman; They Were Strong and Good, Robert Lawson; One Wide River To Cross, Ed Emberley; Blueberries for Sal, Robert McCloskey; The Biggest Bear, Lyn Ward; and (center) The Egg Tree, Katherine Milhous

1. It is awarded to the “most distinguished” children’s picture book printed in the United States in the previous calendar year.

2. The illustrator must be a citizen or maintain residence in the United States of America.

3. The award is given based on the illustrations for that particular book only, not the artist’s full body of work.

Fifteen committee members vote until they have 1 winner. Strangely, all fifteen are women this year.

4. This is the 75th year for the award.

View all the winners and honorables on the ALSC website.

5. The award is named after Randolph (Ralph) Caldecott, 1846-1886.

He is considered one of 3 influential children’s illustrators in England in the 19th century. (Kate Greenaway and Walter Crane are the other two.)

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A couple of Ralph Caldecott books. The Great Panjandrum Himself, 1885, and The House That Jack Built & The Farmer’s Boy, 1878

Randolph Caldecott is called the father of the modern picture book. Maurice Sendak summed it up well when he said, “Caldecott’s work heralds the beginning of the modern picture book. He devised an ingenious juxtaposition of picture and word, a counterpoint that never happened before. Words are left out—but the picture says it. Pictures are left out—but the word says it. In short, it is the invention of the picture book.”

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spread from The House That Jack Built, 1878

6. The book awarded receives a bronze medal sticker for the rest of its publication life.

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7. The illustration on the medal is based on an illustration by Ralph Caldecott called The Diverting Story of John Gilpin.

The Diverting Story (History) of John Gilpin by Randolph Caldecott, 1878 (image via randolphcaldecott.org)

8. The first book awarded was in 1938 and was Animals of the Bible, A Picture Book by Dorothy P. Lathrop.

page from Animals of the Bible, A Picture Book by Dorothy P. Lathrop, 1937

9. There are usually 1-5 honor books named.

They used to be called runners-ups but that changed in 1971.

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Honor books: Snow, by Uri Shulevitz and Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, by Mo Willems

10. Two illustrators have received the award three times, Marcia Brown (1955, 1962, 1983) and David Wiesner (1992, 2002, 2007), as well as receiving several honors apiece.

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3 time Caldecott winners Marcia Brown (bio from Once a Mouse…, 1961) and David Wiesner (bio from Flotsam, 2006)

There you go. A short intro to the Caldecott medal. I’m so excited about Monday’s announcement I’ve been reading everything I can with guesses and discussions. Now, who wants to attend my 2013 Caldecott party? So far, my guests are a baby and a crazy Jack Russell….

8 thoughts on “10 Things To Know About The Caldecott Medal

  1. Came over here from Designmom. I, too, love picture books and these wonderful illustrators. Your Caldecott information is excellent. Thanks!


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