What would your family pick as the very best children’s storybook? What about the very best illustrations in a children’s book? It’s hard to choose, isn’t it? But the American Library Association does choose each year and gives awards for what they decide is the best in American children’s and young adult books published the year before.
This week the winners of two of the most well known awards were announced. For best illustrations, Jon Klassen was awarded the 2013 Randolph Caldecott Medal for his book “This Is Not My Hat,” published by Candlewick Press. For best story, the 2013 John Newbery Medal went to Katherine Applegate for her mid-grade children’s book, “The One and Only Ivan,” published by HarperCollins Children’s Books.
This year is the 75th anniversary of the Caldecott Medal. Starting with the first award given in 1938 to Dorothy P. Lathrop for her illustrations in a book by Helen Dean Fish, one illustrator has been honored each year since for his or her creative representations of stories for children.
The round, bronze Caldecott seal is added as an embossed sticker to the cover of a book when it has won the award. The medal almost guarantees that the book will never go out of print because bookstores and libraries will always want to have these award winners on their shelves.
The image on the Caldecott medal is from an illustration by 19th century artist Randolph Caldecott. It pictures a man on a runaway horse with squawking geese, barking dogs, and astonished people in his wake. Caldecott’s etchings were unique compared to other illustrators during his time because they showed humor and action, and so, this medal for most distinguished pictures in a children’s book bears the Caldecott name.
A portrait of Randolph Caldecott, his book illustration, and the Caldecott medal with the image from his illustration.
Looking at past Caldecott winners such as “A Ball for Daisy” by Chris Raschka (2012), “A Sick Day for Amos McGee” illustrated by Erin Stead, text by Philip Stead (2011), “The Lion and the Mouse” by Jerry Pinkney, (2010), “Grandfather’s Journey” by Alan Say, text edited by Walter Lorraine (1994), “The Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburg (1986), and “Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears” illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon, text retold by Verna Aarmedma (1976), the style of illustration winning the award has varied tremendously.
It seems like each year the book that is awarded a Caldecott medal is chosen especially because the art is so very different from past years. See what you think when you look at some Caldecott winning books. Remember that the story of a Caldecott winner isn’t judged; only the illustrations are under consideration.
The best story in children’s books is awarded the Newbery medal. Along with the Caldecott and dozens of other children’s literature awards given annually by the American Library Association, librarians, teachers, and parents have the choice of reading a lot of winners!