Caldecott Medal and Honor Books
In 1921, Frederic G. Melcher suggested the introduction of a children's book award prize. Adults had their literary prizes, he argued. Why not kids? Are not children's books worthy of serious consideration and applause? he might have urged, standing before the august assembly of the American Library Association's Executive Board, right arm flung across his chest, Hendrik Willem van Loon's The Story of Mankind clutched tightly in his left hand. What about the children?
The persons associated with the aforementioned Board thought Melcher was right and the Newbery Medal was born, but 15 years later he realized he hadn't gone far enough. What about the illustrators of children's books? he thought, snoozing at his desk late one evening. The television was not yet on to keep him awake because there was not yet television. What about the illustrators? The thought plagued him, it got into his bones, and again he took his case before the magisterial Executive Board.
Yes, they agreed, the writers are duly recognized; let also the illustrators be touted and awarded for their efforts! And so it was, in A.D. 1937 that the Caldecott Award was conceived and brought forth, an award for the best children's picture book of the year, named for famed 19th-century British illustrator Randolph J. Caldecott. Books that deserved attention but failed to attain the rank of single very best picture book of the year were to be given honorable mention.
Melcher's heroic efforts were not for naught. The Caldecott Award has consistently gone to books with beautiful, engaging, and/or very fun illustrations, even in recent years. Of course, there are plenty of wonderful picture books that are on no Caldecott list, either as winners or honorably mentioned (to whom, no one is quite sure), and the award is only given to books written and published in the United States of America. But the flame of quality diversion for children continues to burn brightly, and we thank ol' Freddy for his indefatigable efforts, and for the kindness of the Board's acceptance of them.
1 = Avoid 2 = Not recommended 3 = Reservations 4 = Recommended 5 = Highly Recommended
F = Fighting/Violence L = Language A = Attitude W = Worldview S = Sexual
2021 Medal Winner:
We Are Water Protectors, illustrated by Michaela Goade is the 2021 Caldecott Medal winner. The book was written by Carole Lindstrom and published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings.
- A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart, illustrated by Noa Denmon, written by Zetta Elliott and published by Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Macmillan Publishing Group;
- The Cat Man of Aleppo, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu, written by Irene Latham & Karim Shamsi-Basha and published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, an imprint of Penguin Random House;
- Me & Mama, illustrated and written by Cozbi A. Cabrera and published by Denene Millner Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
- Outside In, illustrated by Cindy Derby, written by Deborah Underwood and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
2020 Medal Winner
The Undefeated, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, written by Kwame Alexander
2019 Medal Winner
Hello Lighthouse written and illustrated by Sophie Blackall
- Delightful illustrations accompany the story of a lighthouse keeper as he tends his lamp, keeps his logs and dreams of reuniting with his wife.
2017 Medal Winner
Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, illustrated and written by Javaka Steptoe
- Graffiti-style art accompanies this homage to young artist Basquiat as he grows up and learns to see beauty in the world around him.
2016 Medal Winner
Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick, Illustrated by Sophie Blackall
- When Captain Harry Colebourn buys a small bear cub, he makes a lifelong friend.
2015 Medal Winner
Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, written and illustrated by Dan Santat
- An imaginary friend goes in search of a child to imagine him.
2014 Medal Winner
Locomotive, written and illustrated by Brian Floca
F - A plucky pioneer family takes a cross-country trip on a shiny new steam engine.
2013 Caldecott Medal Winner
This Is Not My Hat, written and illustrated by Jon Klassen
F A - A morbid tale about a thieving little fish who encounters violent justice.
- Creepy Carrots!, illustrated by Peter Brown, written by Aaron Reynolds
- Extra Yarn, illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett
- Green, illustrated and written by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
- One Cool Friend, illustrated by David Small, written by Toni Buzzeo
- Sleep Like a Tiger, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, written by Mary Logue
2012 Caldecott Medal Winner
A Ball for Daisy, by Chris Raschka
- A small dog loses her most prized possession.
2011 Caldecott Medal Winner
A Sick Day for Amos McGee, illustrated by Erin E. Stead, written by Philip C. Stead
- Amos McGee cares for the zoo animals until, one day, he wakes up sick.
2010 Caldecott Medal Winner
The Lion & the Mouse, by Jerry Pinkney
F - Nearly wordless retelling of the traditional lion & the mouse fable.
2009 Caldecott Medal Winner
The House in the Night, illustrated by Beth Krommes, written by Susan Marie Swanson
- Chiastic bedtime poem muddled by dizzying illustrations.
2008 Caldecott Medal Winner
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
F L A - Young orphan Hugo lives in a Paris clock tower while trying to finish his father's last project.
2007 Caldecott Medal Winner
Flotsam, by David Wiesner
- A mysterious camera washes up on shore, revealing a wonderful secret about life under the ocean.
2006 Caldecott Medal Winner
The Hello, Goodbye Window, illustrated by Chris Raschka and written by Norton Juster
- A young girl loves the big window at her grandparent's house.
2005 Caldecott Medal Winner
Kitten's First Full Moon, by Kevin Henkes
- Kitten thinks the moon is a bowl of milk, which leads to trouble.
2004 Caldecott Medal Winner
The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein
A - Phillipe Petit attempts to cross the Twin Towers on a tightrope in 1974.
2003 Caldecott Medal Winner
My Friend Rabbit, by Eric Rohmann
- Mouse remains loyal to his well-meaning but thoughtless best friend Rabbit.
2002 Caldecott Medal Winner
The Three Pigs by David Wiesner
F - Three little pigs break out of their story into the world in-between.
2001 Caldecott Medal Winner
So You Want to Be President? Illustrated by David Small, written by Judith St. George
W - Light introduction to forty-two U.S. presidents, with some subtle political bias.
2000 Caldecott Medal Winner
Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback
- Joseph is so thrifty, he can make something new out of something old.
1999 Caldecott Medal Winner
Snowflake Bentley, Illustrated by Mary Azarian, text by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
- Wilson Bentley discovers that every snowflake is unique and sets out to capture them on camera.
1998 Caldecott Medal Winner
Rapunzel by Paul O. Zelinsky
F S - Rapunzel is taken from her parents and locked in a tower in this majestic retelling.
1997 Caldecott Medal Winner
Golem, by David Wisniewski
F W - Rabbi Ben Loew summons a Golem to defend the Jews of Prague.
1996 Caldecott Medal Winner
Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann
A - Gloria helps Officer Buckle behind his back.
1995 Caldecott Medal Winner
Smoky Night, illustrated by David Diaz; text: Eve Bunting
VW - A problematic child's eye view of the 1992 LA riots.
1994 Caldecott Medal Winner
Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say; text: edited by Walter Lorraine
- Allan Say's poignant story of his grandfather, a man torn between two countries.
1993 Caldecott Medal Winner
Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully
- The new boarder can walk on a high wire, and Mirette wants desperately to learn.
1992 Caldecott Medal Winner
Tuesday by David Wiesner
- An mysterious event gives a group of frogs the best Tuesday night of their lives.
1991 Caldecott Medal Winner
Black and White by David Macaulay
- Four stories are told side-by-side, and its up to the reader to decide if or how they're connected.
1990 Caldecott Medal Winner
Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China by Ed Young
F - Three clever girls are home alone when a mysterious stranger shows up, claiming to be their grandmother.
1989 Caldecott Medal Winner
Song and Dance Man, illustrated by Stephen Gammell; text: Karen Ackerman
- When the grandchildren come over Grandpa becomes the song and dance man once more.
1988 Caldecott Medal Winner
Owl Moon, illustrated by John Schoenherr; text: Jane Yolen
- A quiet, gentle story of a girl and her father going owling one cold snowy night under the owl moon.
1987 Caldecott Medal Winner
Hey, Al, illustrated by Richard Egielski; text: Arthur Yorinks
F - Al and Eddie live in a one-room apartment until a bird whisks them away to an island paradise.
1986 Caldecott Medal Winner
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
W - "Classic" Christmas tale holds misguided view about the meaning of Christmas.
1985 Medal Winner
Saint George and the Dragon, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman; text: retold by Margaret Hodges
F - Una returns to her kingdom with the Redcrosse knight in hopes of slaying a sinister dragon.
1984 Medal Winner
The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel with Louis Bleriot by Alice & Martin Provensen
- Louis Bleriot attempts to be the first man to fly across the English channel.
1983 Medal Winner
Shadow, translated and illustrated by Marcia Brown Original text in French: Blaise Cendrars
F - Shadow dances around campfires and mocks men behind their backs.
1982 Medal Winner
Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg
F - Two bored children start to play a board game that comes to life.
1981 Medal Winner
Fables by Arnold Lobel
F - Twenty fables follow an assortment of animals through moral lessons about life.
1980 Medal Winner
Ox-Cart Man, illustrated by Barbara Cooney; text: Donald Hall
- A circular story about a pioneer family as it works to provide for itself through the year.
1979 Medal Winner
The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble
W S - Gorgeous illustrations can't excuse the strange worldview problems.
1978 Medal Winner
Noah's Ark by Peter Spier
F - Gentle, humorous, and detailed wordless retelling of the story of Noah's ark.
1977 Medal Winner
Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions, illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon; text: Margaret Musgrove
F W S - Lush illustrations and short paragraphs explore the cultures of twenty-six African tribes.
1976 Medal Winner
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears, illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon; text: retold by Verna Aardema
V A - Because mosquito lies to iguana, the world is plunged into eternal night.
1975 Medal Winner
Arrow to the Sun, by Gerald McDermott
W - A boy's quest to find his father leads him, straight as an arrow, into the sun.
1974 Medal Winner
Duffy and the Devil, illustrated by Margot Zemach; retold by Harve Zemach
A - After three years of knitting Squire Lovel's stockings the devil gets to take Duffy away, unless she can guess his name.
1973 Medal Winner
The Funny Little Woman, illustrated by Blair Lent; text: retold by Arlene Mosel
F W - Little Japanese woman is taken captive by the fearsome oni.
1972 Medal Winner
One Fine Day, retold and illustrated by Nonny Hogrogian
F - A little fox loses his tail and must bargain to get it back.
1971 Medal Winner
A Story A Story, retold and illustrated by Gail E. Haley
AW - Ananse the Spider man sets out to buy stories from Nyame the Sky God.
1970 Medal Winner
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
F - Sylvester finds a magic pebble that grants him any wish, but things go wrong when he makes a very foolish one.
1969 Medal Winner
The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship, illustrated by Uri Shulevitz; text: retold by Arthur Ransome
- A simple but kind young man gains help to win the hand of the Czar's daughter.
1968 Medal Winner
Drummer Hoff, illustrated by Ed Emberley; text: adapted by Barbara Emberley
F W - Fun rhyme about soldiers assembling a cannon holds subtle anti-war messages.
1967 Medal Winner
Sam, Bangs & Moonshine by Evaline Ness
A - Sam must learn to talk real, not moonshine, while trying to cope with her mother's death.
1966 Medal Winner
Always Room for One More, illustrated by Nonny Hogrogian; text: Sorche Nic Leodhas, pseud.
- Lachie MacLachlan extends his hospitality to every passerby, always trying to fit in just one more.
1965 Medal Winner
May I Bring a Friend? illustrated by Beni Montresor; text: Beatrice Schenk de Regniers
- A young boy brings an assortment of wild animals to tea with the king and queen.
1964 Medal Winner
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
V A - Max gets sent to bed without supper and escapes to the land of the wild things.
1963 Medal Winner
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
- A boy experiences the first snowfall of the year.
1962 Medal Winner
Once a Mouse, retold and illustrated by Marcia Brown
- A mouse is saved by a hermit but becomes proud and ungrateful.
1961 Medal Winner
Baboushka and the Three Kings, illustrated by Nicolas Sidjakov; text: Ruth Robbins
W - Baboushka does not follow the wise men, and must now search in vain for the Christ Child.
Inch by Inch, by Leo Lionni
1960 Medal Winner
Nine Days to Christmas, illustrated by Marie Hall Ets; text: Marie Hall Ets and Aurora Labastida
- Young Mexican girl waits eagerly for her first posada.
1959 Medal Winner
Chanticleer and the Fox, illustrated by Barbara Cooney; text: adapted from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales by Barbara Cooney
- Chanticleer, king of the barnyard, succumbs to the flattery of a conniving fox.
1958 Medal Winner
Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey
- A summer on the islands of Maine.
1957 Medal Winner
A Tree is Nice, illustrated by Marc Simont; text: Janice Udry
- Trees are nice, and here are some reasons why.
1956 Medal Winner
Frog Went A-Courtin', illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky; text: retold by John Langstaff
- Frog rides off to court Miss Mouse and they have a splendid wedding feast.
1955 Medal Winner
Cinderella, or the Little Glass Slipper, illustrated by Marcia Brown; text: translated from Charles Perrault by Marcia Brown
- Kind and gentle Cinderella is sent to the ball by her fairy godmother.
1954 Medal Winner
Madeline's Rescue by Ludwig Bemelmans
V - Madeline falls into the river Seine but is rescued by a brave dog.
1953 Medal Winner
The Biggest Bear by Lynd Ward
- Johnny adopts a bear cub, and then learns to let go as it becomes too big to keep.
1952 Medal Winner
Finders Keepers, illustrated by Nicolas, pseud. (Nicholas Mordvinoff); text: Will, pseud. [William Lipkind]
F - Nap and Winkle can't decide who should get to keep the bone.
1951 Medal Winner
The Egg Tree, by Katherine Milhous
W - A Pennsylvania Dutch Easter involves brightly colored eggs but no mention of Jesus.
1950 Medal Winner
Song of the Swallows by Leo Politi
- A boy fascinated with the swallows of San Juan Capistrano waits eagerly for their yearly return on St. Joseph's Day.
1949 Medal Winner
The Big Snow by Berta & Elmer Hader
- The woodland animals are unprepared for the big snow.
1948 Medal Winner
White Snow, Bright Snow, illustrated by Roger Duvoisin; text: Alvin Tresselt
- The postman, policeman, farmer, housewife, and children wait for the first snow.
1947 Medal Winner
The Little Island, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard; text: Golden MacDonald, pseud. [Margaret Wise Brown]
- Seasons change on a little island.
1946 Medal Winner
The Rooster Crows by Maud & Miska Petersham
V - Classic nursery rhymes are illustrated with pictures of colonial and frontier America.
1945 Medal Winner
Prayer for a Child, illustrated by Elizabeth Orton Jones; text: Rachel Field
W - 1940's bedtime prayer asks God to bless people and objects.
1944 Medal Winner
Many Moons, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin; text: James Thurber
- Princess Lenore will not be well until she can have the moon, but the moon cannot be gotten. Or can it?
1943 Medal Winner
The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
- A Little House in the country ends up living in the city thanks to progress.
1942 Medal Winner
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
- Mrs. Mallard and her eight ducklings cross the busy streets of Boston with a little help from a kindly policeman.
1941 Medal Winner
They Were Strong and Good, by Robert Lawson
- Years of American history told through the lives of Lawson's ancestors.
1940 Medal Winner
Abraham Lincoln by Ingri & Edgar Parin d'Aulaire
W - The idealized life of Abraham Lincoln, folk hero of freedom rather than historical figure.
1939 Medal Winner
Mei Li, by Thomas Handforth
W - Mei Li competes against her brother to see who can have the most fun at the fair.
1938 Medal Winner
Animals of the Bible, A Picture Book , illustrated by Dorothy P. Lathrop; text: selected by Helen Dean Fish
- A selection of passages from the Bible featuring animals, majestically illustrated.