Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Randolph Caldecott and the Caldecott Medal

In the upcoming weeks I will be posting about several winners of the Caldecott Medal, as well as a few runners-up, also known as Caldecott Honor books. In many libraries you’ll see Caldecott Medal winners displayed along the tops of the shelves or in their own table displays. They each carry a medal on their covers. But what exactly does it mean to be a Caldecott Medal winner or Caldecott Honor book? Who decides which books should receive the award? And how did this all start, anyway?
Well, it all started with an illustrator named Randolph Caldecott. Throughout his life, he created artwork for magazines. He illustrated novels and drew cartoons. He sculpted and painted. He even illustrated his letters, drawing pictures around the edges of the pages.

In 1887, Caldecott was asked to illustrate two children’s books which were to be published for Christmas. The books were huge hits. Caldecott illustrated two picture books each year for Christmas for the next eight years (until his death). He wrote some of these books himself, but he always added something with his illustrations. The pictures in Caldecott’s books help to tell some of the story that the words do not. Below is one of his illustrations. It is from The Diverting History of John Gilpin. It should remind you of the picture on the Caldecott Medal pictured above.
In 1938, the Association for Library Service to Children awarded the first Caldecott Medal. The award was named in honor of Randolph Caldecott and the winner had to contribute to children’s literature the way Caldecott had. The illustrations had to be original artwork and they had to help tell the story.

Recently, there have been winners of the Caldecott Medal that do not include words at all. David Wiesner, who I’ll post about soon, has won three Caldecott Medals and two Caldecott Honors. He tells his stories all in pictures. He has definitely continued Randolph Caldecott’s tradition!

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3 comments:

Peter said...

I checked Caldecott on Google to see some more. He was obviously excellent on horse and other animal illustrations!

Ms. Julie's Place said...

You have been honored with a
WONDERFUL BLOG
award.

Come on over to my blog to claim it!

School for Us said...

I just came across your blog tonight after seeing you as one of the winners at Ms. Julie's Place. I love this post about Caldecott! I had never taken the time to learn about Mr. Caldecott and the medal. I did just check out a book about Caldecott winners and was planning on using it as a unit study. I'll be visiting your blog often!