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What do you think of the REAL Caldecott winners?

So, I bet a lot of you watched the awards live online. If you didn’t, here’s the link where you can see what happened this morning

I’m putting this post up really fast so you all have a place to respond to the winners. Martha and Robin and I will chime in later.


Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe won the 2017 Caldecott Medal

The committee chose four honor books:

SO what do you all think?

[Edited to add this link to the Horn Book Magazine review for each of these books.]

Lolly Robinson About Lolly Robinson

Lolly Robinson is the creative director for The Horn Book, Inc. She has degrees in studio art and children's literature and teaches children's literature at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. She has served on the Caldecott and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committees and blogs for Calling Caldecott and Lolly's Classroom on this site.



  1. Sam Juliano says:

    I did myself feel for weeks that LEAVE ME ALONE was somehow going to end up in the winner’s circle, and when my 170 Fairview first graders gave the book a landslide win in our sixth-annual Mock Caldecott I was even more convinced. Of course in one sense this visionary committee left the box a bit to honor it, and for that I feel kudos are in order. Even when I just last period brought the five winners up to an auditorium gathering to present the winners -all of which they had seen multiple times in the past months they were wildly cheering!

    RADIANT CHILD, which I know is a huge favorite of Lolly’s is a masterpiece, and the committee’s choosing it is truly cause for celebration. Mr. Steptoe is a humble, exceedingly gifted and passionate artist whose ascendancy here will no doubt have everyone connected to these awards ecstatic for a host of reasons. Then there is DU IZ TAK?, which weeks ago struck me like a bolt as a sublime work of genius. It fully deserved an honor as did the electrifying FREEDOM IN CONGO SQUARE and the wildly popular THEY ALL SAW A CAT.

    The committee with dedicated members like Brian Wilson will surely go down as one of the most formidable on record, and we can all proudly look at this lineup as profoundly representation of the year’s picture book riches.

    Yes, like everyone else I do mourn for favorites that did not make the cut, but five (5) is a reasonable total of books to honor for certain. Sergio Ruzzier, Jonathan Bean, Yuyi Morales, the Steads, Salina Yoon, Barbara McClintock, Beth Krommes,Rick Lieder, etc., etc., I need to stop right now. There are too many.

    This was a Caldecott lineup for the ages!

    Aside from this, how about MARCH 3 winning 3 or 4 awards? Wow! Another masterpiece of a book!

  2. Lolly Robinson Lolly Robinson says:

    I was watching with a small group at Harvard Ed School and had brought my favorites in. By the end, we all wondered how March 3 was going to fit so many stickers on it’s relatively small cover! I whooped when Radiant Child was named the winner. It’s what I hoped for but wondered if there really was a chance. I love that we have four honor books, and all four are worthy.

    Hooray for Javaka Steptoe and the 2017 Caldecott Committee!

  3. Sam Juliano says:

    In my scroll above I inadvertently left off Wendell Minor, but there are so many more. Such a thrilling day! Every pick made is stupendous! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  4. Sam Juliano says:

    Lolly you were truly that book’s supreme champion from the very start! Very happy for you and of course for the visionary creator of it!

  5. Rachel Payne says:

    Looking at the winner and honors, there is a diversity of artistic styles, techniques and approaches. Well done! I am always delighted when a nonfiction title wins the gold, which does not happen very often. I have been following Steptoe’s career for awhile and he really is at the top of his game. Not sure how he can ever top this gorgeous art. If you ever get to see the orginal paintings from this book, do. They are breathtaking.

    Correct me if I am wrong, I am also delighted that there were three ALAYMA newbies were honored. Brosgol, Wenzel, and Ellis haven’t gotten any awards in the past and are relatively new to the picture book world. So happy for them!

  6. You definitely can’t say the winner isn’t perfectly on trend! From the NY Times today:

    ““Instagram has become the leading social media tool for discovering, showing and following art, particularly for people below the age of 35,” said Anders Petterson, an author of the Hiscox Online Art Trade Report. Of the more than 650 art buyers questioned for the 2016 report, 48 percent said that Instagram was their preferred social media platform. The figure rose to 65 percent among the younger buyers contacted. “It has hit a sweet spot in the market for sharing information,” Mr. Petterson said, “but no one saw this coming as a sales tool.”

    Its direct effect on art sales, however, remains fiendishly difficult to quantify, apart from anecdotal evidence. Last month, a Jean-Michel Basquiat canvas priced at about $24 million was hailed by Bloomberg News as a breakthrough Instagram sale.

    Brett Gorvy, then Christie’s global head of contemporary art, had posted an image of the Basquiat, a 1982 painting of the boxer Sugar Ray Robinson, on his personal Instagram site (57,900 followers) as he boarded a plane for the auction house’s private selling exhibition in Hong Kong. When he landed, Mr. Gorvy said he had messages from three collectors — in America, London and Asia — expressing interest in buying the painting. The unidentified collector in America completed the transaction two days later.

  7. I’m very happy about these winners!! I gasped when THEY ALL SAW A CAT got an Honor (I know A LOT people had it to win the medal & so did I!), but I whooped when RADIANT CHILD won. I am THRILLED; Steptoe left his heart on every page. The amount of effort he put into constructing the illustrations says so much and it’s truly a heartfelt tribute to Basquiat. I really like the Honor books this year though I’m still not quite convinced about DU IZ TAK. Gorgeous illustrations though. I was really hoping for THUNDER BOY JR. to get at least an Honor, so I’m sad about that…but YAY for RADIANT CHILD.

  8. Allison Grover Khoury says:

    I am very excited by the results.
    I am thrilled that Radiant Child won by the Caldecott medal! AND a Coretta Scott King. Is that a first??!!
    I’m disappointed about Leave Me Alone winning an honor, although I do admire the art. My students were thrilled about Du iz Tak? and They All Saw a Cat. I’m fine with both of these, but had hoped for some others that I really loved.
    I am also over the moon (!) that Freedom in Congo Square also won an honor.
    Regardless of my personal views – the books are incredibly diverse artistically and all excellent.
    Thanks for giving us a chance to comment early.

  9. What a line-up, what a year of books! I think Radiant Child is a wonderful pick for the 2017 Caldecott Medal, so well deserved, it is stunning. I am thrilled with honors for Freedom in Congo Square, They All Saw a Cat and Du Iz Tak? Leave Me Alone! is the only one I am not yet familiar with (still not sure how I missed it as I thought I had scoured all the lists!) and I am looking forward to discovering its merits too. I ran a successful Mock for the first time and our slate was fairly close to the the real one so I was happy about that as it so much fun trying to guess what will make their line-up. Like everyone always does, I had some other favourites and hope to see them on the ALSC notables lists soon.

  10. Martha V. Parravano Martha V. Parravano says:

    I’m thrilled with the committee’s choices as well! Beyond thrilled, really. Fantastic work, Caldecott committee!! And yes, Allison, this IS the first time a book has won both the CSK and the Caldecott. Jerry Pinkney was the first African American artist to win the Caldecott as an individual (the Dillons won as a team) for “Lion and the Mouse”; and that book didn’t win the CSK (since it’s not really a reflection of the black experience, which is one of the CSK criteria). So this Monday was a truly historic day: first time a book won FOUR awards (March: Book Three); first time a picture book won both the Caldecott and the CSK. (And this might not be relevant for Calling Caldecott, but it’s also the first time, believe it or not, that Ashley Bryan has ever been recognized by either a Caldecott or a Newbery committee. High time! Yipppeeee!!

  11. Sam Juliano says:

    Just a little trivia here. I think this was the first time we had a book that ended with a question mark and another with an exclamation mark winning in the same year. 🙂

  12. Christie Wyman says:

    I think it would be wonderful if classroom teachers, such as myself, could somehow have a say in the awards. We read books to our students day in and day out. We are on the front lines, too, sharing these works and having deep conversations about stories and their illustrations with our students. At times our choices would have been very different. Something to consider in the future, perhaps.

  13. Joanne Rubenstein says:

    My students (K-6) were thrilled to figure out the language in Du Iz Tak?, and I was equally thrilled with my fluency after 35+ readings. All of the classes connected with They All Saw a Cat, and they hooted with glee at Leave Me Alone! we the grandmother so matter-of-factly went from the mountain to the moon and then through the wormhole. I am just starting Radiant Child, and am looking forward to seeing the children’s response to this beautiful book.

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