Caldecott Medal

The Caldecott Medal is awarded to an artist who had “created the most distinguished picture book of the year”. It was named after Randolph J. Caldecott who was an influential children’s illustrator in the 19th century. Caldecott’s illustrations were “unique to their time in both their humor, and their ability to create a sense of movement, vitality, and action that complemented the stories they accompanied.”

A Sick Day for Amos McGee

The 2011 Caldecott winner was A Sick Day for Amox McGee illustrated by Erin E. Stead. Amos McGee works at a zoo and has many animal friends that he visits every day. When Amos is sick, the animals decide that it is time for them to visit him. Stead’s illustrations are whimsical and make use of color very effectively. Her scenes have a sense of quiet, intimacy and delicacy. I grabbed this book before I knew that it had won the Caldecott for 2011. Just by looking at the illustrations I would have thought this book was much older than it is! The fact that it has won the Caldecott states that Stead’s style will stay relevant for a long time.

Dave the Potter

Dave the Potter by Laban Carrick Hill and illustrated by Bryan Collier was a 2011 Caldecott honor book  as well as a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award winner for 2011. The illustrations are very dark and beautiful. Collier makes user of neutral colors like browns and yellows. The colors used are very fitting because of the content of the story. Dave is a potter and these colors are often seen in clay pots. These are the colors that Dave would have actually used. Dave’s style takes something from contemporary art media. This style is very popular with children’s books and I have come across it many times as I am reading books for this class. You can see the actual edges of paper. This style can be seen in art as far back as modernism. Dadaists and Surrealists were a few groups who played around with collages and made use of cutting and pasting. I think though, this style is new to children’s books. The example down below isn’t the best, but it was the only one I could swipe from Google Images.

The Lion and the Mouse

The Lion and the Mouse is a story illustrated by Jerry Pinkney with very little text. The only text in the book are animal sounds that work to add an extra layer of sensory experience. The illustrations tell the story and it doesn’t need any text to complete it. Many award winning children’s books are successful because of the blending in of text and illustrations. The books wouldn’t be as extraordinary without one or the other. The Lion and the Mouse is a unique exception partly because the fable is well known and because the illustrations provide much to encounter. The little text there is does invite the reader to participate in the sounds of the environment in which the lion and the mouse live. In the case of this book, less text is definitely much, much more.

Pinkney places the lion and the lamb on the book jacket, giving the mouse just as much room as the large lion does stating that despite the meek size of the mouse, it equals the size of the lion in terms of honor.


Golem by David Wisniewski won the Caldecott in 1997. The illustrations are very similar to Dave the Potter and Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow. Wisniewski uses layers of cut paper in his illustrations. This technique gives an added three-dimensional depth and a unique texture which complements the story of the golem very well. A golem is an inanimate being made out of clay, brought to life by the use of holy words. The golem can be fuond in Jewish folklore. The texture that the cut paper adds to the story brings to life the idea of a figure made out of clay and adds subtle shadowy layers and lines in between the paper.


Tuesday by David Weisner won the Caldecott Medal in 1992. Weisner’s story also lacks text but, because of the simplicity of the story, is successful without it. The illustrations are whimsical and entertaining and suited to the story. I feel that it works because the story is so simple. One Tuesday evening all the frogs rise up on their magical flying lilly pads and have an adventure that takes them into the living room of a napping grandma to enjoy a little television and ends with the sunrise. And next Tuesday? It’s the pigs turn!


1 Comment

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One response to “Caldecott Medal

  1. Maddie

    This is gorgeous! I liked looking at this post as much as I did reading it – thank you. I haven’t checked out my Caldecotts yet but I am excited to do so soon.

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