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Reviews of the 2020 Caldecott Medal winners

Winner The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander; illus. by Kadir Nelson Primary, Intermediate, Middle School     Versify/Houghton     40 pp.    g 4/19     978-1-328-78096-6     $17.99 e-book ed.  978-0-358-05761-1     $12.99 Alexander and Nelson honor the achievements, courage, and perseverance of ordinary black people as well as prominent black artists, athletes, and activists. The free-verse poem...

Hello Studio: A Profile of 2019 Caldecott Medal winner Sophie Blackall

On the highest floor of an old factory at the edge of Brooklyn, overlooking the water, is a skylit artists’ studio. This profile is drawn from interviews with the seven children’s book creators who, over the years, have shared that studio with Sophie Blackall.“Drawn in Brooklyn,” 2010 Photo: Matt Carr.Sergio...

Caldecott committee member Judy Freeman weighs in: A guest post

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[Editors' note: this post, a passionate defense of the awards committee process and an illuminating glimpse into the workings of this year's Caldecott committee, specifically, originally appeared on Calling Caldecott in the comments. We thought it merited a post of its own. So, without further ado...here's Judy!] OK, I think I need to weigh in...

Caldecott at 75 extras

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Caldecott cookie.The Caldecott Medal marks its seventy-fifth anniversary this year. In a year-long series of articles, librarian and children's literature historian K. T. Horning looked at one seminal but unheralded Caldecott book of each decade — identifying trends, noting the changing nature of the picture book, wrestling with issues and...

Hey, Al and the Quirky Choice

This is the sixth (and final) of a series of articles celebrating the history of the Caldecott Medal, which marks its seventy-fifth anniversary this year. Librarian and children’s literature historian Kathleen T. Horning looks at one seminal but unheralded Caldecott book of each decade — identifying trends, noting the changing...

Horn Book reviews of Caldecott Medal winners, 1980-1989

1980DONALD HALLOx-Cart Man (Viking)Illustrated by Barbara CooneyLike a pastoral symphony translated into picture book format, the stunning combination of text and illustrations re-creates the mood of nineteenth-century rural New England. Economical and straightforward, the narrative achieves a poetic tone through the use of alliteration and  repetition, as in the description...

George Nicholson on Gerald McDermott's Arrow to the Sun

Gerald McDermott and a young fan. Photo courtesy of ALSC.While doing the research for my article Arrow to the Sun and Critical Controversies (Sept./Oct. 2013 Horn Book Magazine), I came across several references to author Gerald McDermott's first children's book editor at Holt, Rinehart & Winston, George Nicholson, and the...

Arrow to the Sun and Critical Controversies

This is the fifth of a continuing series of articles celebrating the history of the Caldecott Medal, which marks its seventy-fifth anniversary this year. Librarian and children’s literature historian Kathleen T. Horning looks at one seminal but unheralded Caldecott book of each decade — identifying trends, noting the changing nature...

A Profile of Gerald McDermott

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by Priscilla Moulton from left: Gerald McDermott, Priscilla Moulton, and former Horn Book editor Paul Heins. Photo courtesy of the Association for Library Service to Children/American Library Association. Used with permission.The awarding of the 1975 Caldecott Medal for Arrow to the Sun (Viking) concludes a critical period for Gerald McDermott,...

On the Rainbow Trail

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by Gerald McDermottI’ve been on a journey past paper mountains, flying men, foolish spiders, talking trees, and the flaming arrows of the solar fire. It  has been a journey of discovery through the bizarre and exotic forms of world mythology. The Rainbow Trail has become a path for my work...

Horn Book reviews of Caldecott Medal winners, 1970-1979

1970WILLIAM STEIG, Author-Illustrator Sylvester and the Magic Pebble (Windmill/Simon)Sylvester the young donkey was a pebble collector; one day he found a flaming red stone, shiny and round — and quite  unaccountably able to grant wishes. Overjoyed, Sylvester was planning to share his magic with his family when "a mean, hungry...

ALA 2013 photos

Caldecott cookie. Newbery Caldecott Wilder program. Three Newbery Medalists in the ladies room at the Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder banquet: Patricia MacLachlan, Cynthia Voigt, Katherine Paterson. Photo: Martha Parravano. Brian Selznick and Rita Auerbach before the Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder Banquet. Photo: Martha Parravano. Betsy Bird (as "all the books") and Nina Lindsay (in a 75-year-old...

ALA 2013 preconference report

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On Friday, June 27, I attended the ALSC preconference, “A Wild Ride: 75 Years of the Caldecott Medal,” which took place at the Art Institute of Chicago and was organized by co-chairs K. T. Horning and Diane Bailey Foote and their planning committee. It was an amazing day, a day...

Drummer Hoff and “Didactic Intent”

This is the fourth of a continuing series of articles celebrating the history of theCaldecott which marks its seventy-fifth anniversary this year. Librarian and children’s literature Kathleen T. Horning will look at one seminal but unheralded Caldecott book of each decade — identifying trends and misconceptions, noting the changing nature...

Ed Emberley

by Barbara EmberleyEd’s first instruction concerning this biography was to make it just that — a biography, not an appreciation. So I will do as he requested and “stick to the facts.”To begin, Ed’s full name is Edward Randolph Emberley. He was born in Malden, Massachusetts, on October 19, 1931....

Caldecott Award Acceptance by Ed Emberley

by Ed EmberleyGiven at the American Library Association in Kansas City, Missouri, June 25, 1968. The Caldecott Medal for “the most distinguished American picture book for children” was awarded to Edward Emberley for Drummer Hoff (Prentice-Hall).It was a cold, snowy evening back in January when I received a person-to-person call...

Picture Books, Art and Illustration

From Newbery and Caldecott Medal Books, 1966-1975edited by Lee Kingman, published by The Horn Book, 1975Ten years, ten books. Ten books that, one by one, have been put forth as the best of the year’s picture books, by inference the best that America could produce.This is the burden of the...

Horn Book reviews of Caldecott Medal winners, 1960-1969

1960MARIE HALL ETS and AURORA LABASTIDA Nine Days to Christmas (Viking)Illustrated by Marie Hall EtsThe creator of Play with Me and her co-author, who has worked with children at the Benjamin Franklin Library in Mexico City, have together produced a charming Christmas picture book. The significance of the Mexican posada...

Who are you wearing?

Oh, I HATE costume parties. It's enough trouble to get dressed, never mind dressed UP, never mind dressed up AS SOMEBODY ELSE. Be that as it may, ALSC is apparently asking attendees to this year's Newbery-Caldecott banquet to acknowledge the 75th anniversary of the Caldecott Medal in their sartorial choices...

Madeline’s Rescue and the Question of Audience

This is the third of a continuing series of articles celebrating the history of the Caldecott Medal, which marks its seventy-fifth anniversary this year. Librarian and children’s literature historian Kathleen T. Horning will look at one seminal but unheralded Caldecott  book of each decade — identifying trends and misconceptions, noting...

May Massee: As Her Author-Illustrators See Her

by Ludwig BemelmansAbout seven years ago a typographer brought Miss Massee to my house for dinner. It was a dreary building of six rooms in a noisy neighborhood. The windows of my living room looked out at a cobweb of telegraph wires, a water tank, and a Claude Neon sign...

Ludwig Bemelmans

by May MasseeEvery writer leaves bits and pieces of his own story in his books whether he knows it or not, so I thought I’d look through some of Ludwig Bemelmans’ books to see what he says about himself here and there. The trouble is, I find a paragraph that...

Caldecott Award Acceptance by Ludwig Bemelmans

by Ludwig BemelmansPaper read at the meeting of the American Library Association, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 22, 1954.My deep gratitude to the members of the American Library Association for the Caldecott Medal.Now we shall talk about art.There is one life that is more difficult than that of the policeman’s and that...

Horn Book reviews of Caldecott Medal winners, 1950-1959

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1950LEO POLITI, Author-Illustrator     Song of the Swallows (Scribner)The swallows always appeared at the old Mission of Capistrano on St. Joseph's Day and Juan who lived nearby wondered how they could tell that from all others. This tender poetic story of the coming of springtime is touched by the kindliness of the...

Prayer for a Child and the Test of Time

This is the second of a continuing series of articles celebrating the history of the Caldecott Medal, which marks its seventy-fifth anniversary this year. Librarian and children’s literature historian Kathleen T. Horning will look at one seminal but unheralded Caldecott book of each decade — identifying trends and misconceptions, noting...

“Our Miss Jones”

by Annis Duff Elizabeth Orton Jones at work in her studioOne afternoon, a year ago last February, Elizabeth Jones came to tea. It was quite an occasion, for although we had known her incarnate, so to speak, for a comparatively short time, we were very much at home with her...

Elizabeth Orton Jones's Caldecott acceptance speech

by Elizabeth Orton Jones*Read at the Awards Luncheon when the Caldecott Medal was given to Elizabeth Orton Jones for her illustrations in Rachel Field’s Prayer for a Child (Macmillan).There was once a little girl who found it very puzzling to say “thank you.” The words were too small for the...

Horn Book Reminiscence

by Elizabeth Orton JonesTchrr-r-r-r! The phone would ring. I’d answer, and after a considerable while I’d hear a faint little quavery voice, as if someone were calling me from beyond the Pleiades…“E-li-i-izabeth?”It would be my dear friend Bertha Mahony Miller, calling from Ashburnham, Massachusetts, about seventeen miles from Mason, New...

Artist’s Choice

An illustrator comments in each issue of The Horn Book upon a new picture book he particularly likes.Who Dreams of Cheese?comment by Elizabeth Orton JonesWho can draw dreams? Who can draw thoughts? Who can tell with a few words and a paint brush how it feels to be a bird...

Horn Book reviews of Caldecott Medal winners, 1940-1949

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1940INGRI AND EDGAR PARIN D'AULAIRE, Author-IllustratorsAbraham Lincoln (Doubleday)"Deep in the wilderness down in Kentucky there stood a cabin of roughly hewn logs. It was a poor little cabin of only one room. But the flames flickered gaily on the hearth....In this cabin lived a man named Thomas Lincoln with his...

Gerald McDermott in Paris

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Friends Gerald McDermott and Doug Cushman. Photo credit: Angela SchellenbergDuring one of the last times Gerald was here in Paris, we went off hunting for an oyster restaurant. We finally found one in the Quartier Montorgueil on Rue des Petits Carreaux. The owner shipped oysters from his own farm on...

Thomas Handforth, China, and the Real Mei Li

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This article provides historical background information on Ms. Horning’s “Caldecott at 75” article, “Mei Li and the Making of a Picture Book,” published in the January/February 2013 print issue of The Horn Book Magazine. Thomas Handforth drawing in Beijing. Photo courtesy of Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Archives.Thomas HandforthThomas Schofield Handforth...

Mei Li and the Making of a Picture Book

This is the first of a continuing series of articles celebrating the history of the Caldecott Medal, which marks its seventy-fifth anniversary this year. Librarian and children’s literature historian Kathleen T. Horning will look at one seminal but unheralded Caldecott book of each decade — identifying trends and misconceptions, noting...

Personal Progress Toward the Orient*

by Thomas Handforth*Paper read at the meeting of the Section for Work with Children on the occasion of the American Library Association Conference in San Francisco, June 20, 1939. Thomas Handforth self portrait, 1939.My progress to the Orient began apparently with my first baby steps and observations. I was born...

Horn Book reviews of Caldecott Medal winners, 1938-1939

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Below are original Horn Book Magazine reviews of Caldecott Medal winners from the inaugural 1938 award to 1939.1938DOROTHY LATHROPAnimals of the Bible, A Picture Book (Stokes)Twenty-seven pictures presenting the Creation, Noah's Ark, Abraham's ram, Daniel's lions, Jonah's great fish, the Good Samaritan's beast, the Prodigal Son's pigs and many others...

Thomas Handforth’s “Mei Li”

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reviewed by Elizabeth CoatsworthNo picture book of the year is more beautiful than Mei Li, the story of the adventure of a little Chinese girl going with her brother to the nearby town to see the winter fair, and returning by camel to their farm in time to welcome the...

Tribute to an Artist-Wanderer

Thomas Handforth at the Seeman School, 1943. (Photo from the October 1950 issue of The Horn Book Magazine)by Louise Seaman BechtelIn the late twenties and early thirties, a happy brew was stirring in the children's book field; much of its spice and a good deal of the steam of the...

The Story of "Mei Li"*

by Thomas Handforth*A paper read at the Newbery-Caldecott dinner at the Sixty-first Annual Conference of the American Library Association meeting in San Francisco. This paper and the one following, “Personal Progress Toward the Orient,” are published for their permanent value in place of the informal remarks made by Mr. Handforth...

An Interview with George M. Nicholson

George M. Nicholson introduced and popularized high-quality paperback publishing for young people in the United States. He ran a number of major houses before finding a new career as an agent, remaining throughout an innovative, knowledgeable, and influential figure in the children’s book industry.LEONARD S. MARCUS: How did you come...

Horn Book Reminiscence from Elizabeth Orton Jones

by Elizabeth Orton JonesTchrr-r-r-r! The phone would ring. I’d answer, and after a considerable while I’d hear a faint little quavery voice, as if someone were calling me from beyond the Pleiades…“E-li-i-izabeth?”It would be my dear friend Bertha Mahony Miller, calling from Ashburnham, Massachusetts, about seventeen miles from Mason, New...

Could Randolph Caldecott Win the Caldecott Medal?

by Anita SilveyWith this editorial I do not mean to cast aspersion on this year's Caldecott choice or on any particular choice of the Caldecott Committee over the past dozen years but to talk about a trend in the selection process. Since I worked with and supported Chris Van Allsburg...
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