2021 Caldecott Announcement

The wait is over! The 2021 Caldecott Awards were announced this morning. The committee chose one winner and four honor books. 

The winner is: 

We Are Water Protectors, illustrated by Michaela Goade and written by Carole Lindstrom: 













The honor books are: 

The Cat Man of Aleppo, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu and written by Irene Latham and Karim Shamsi-Basha. 















Me & Mama, written and illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera: 















Outside In, illustrated by Cindy Derby and written by Deborah Underwood: 












A Place Inside Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart, illustrated by Noa Denmon and written by Zetta Elliott: 
















History has been made today in that We Are Water Protectors is the first Caldecott win for a Native illustrator and, more generally, the first win for a BIPOC woman. Michaela Goade is of Tlingit descent and is tribally enrolled wih the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. Velino Herrera (Pueblo) won a Caldecott Honor in 1942 for In My Mother's House, written by Ann Nolan Clark. But never in the 83-year history of the award has a Native person won the award. Congratulations, Michaela Goade! Truly a historic moment!

It should also be noted that We Are Water Protectors is the same book our readers chose last week for the Calling Caldecott mock winner! This is a much-loved book. 

As for the honors, remember how we said not too long ago that none of us ever really knows what the real committee is paying attention to? Well, this morning's announcement is the perfect example of that. Of the three honor books, we covered one here at Calling Caldecott -- Outside In, illustrated by Cindy Derby. The rest of these books weren't a part of our discussions this year. 

Michaela Goade isn't the only first-time winner here: all of the illustrators winning an honor this morning are receiving their first-ever Caldecott nods:

  • Yuko Shimizu (The Cat Man of Aleppo) is a Japanese illustrator, based in New York City, who has illustrated picture books and book covers and is also a fine artist, editorial illustrator, and instructor at the School of Visual Arts. 
  • Cozbi A. Cabrera is receiving her honor for a book she also wrote (Me & Mama). Head here to see some spreads. You may remember that she also illustrated Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks, written by Suzanne Slade and covered here at Calling Caldecott this year. (We expect Cozbi is having a good morning, because she received two Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honors, not to mention Exquisite received a Sibert Honor.) 
  • Cindy Derby illustrated her very first picture book in 2019! Truly a new and welcome illustrator in our field. See here for our Calling Caldecott post about Outside In
  • A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart is Noa Denmon's picture book debut. She is a Pittsburgh-based artist and illustrator. (If you want to see more of her artwork, there is some at 7-Imp from February of 2020 — before A Place Inside of Me was released.) 

All women! We are so very happy to see women getting so much Caldecott love. And BIPOC women as well. Four of the five illustrators! That is unusual for the Caldecott, to say the least, and a very welcome development.

As ever, the point must now be made that NOT ALL OF OUR FAVORITES WON. AND THAT'S OK. It's wonderful to have a prestigious award recognizing American picture books, and we welcome the spotlight that shines on these five books. But that doesn't mean we can't still celebrate the other picture books we may have been rooting for. They are still out there, still worth getting into young readers' hands. Still worth talking up and talking about. Celebrate these winning Caldecott titles — and keep celebrating all the other fantastic picture books published in 2020.


We'll be back later this week to present the fourth annual Robin Smith Picture Book Prize, established to honor the life and work of our beloved co-founder Robin Smith, who died of cancer in 2017. We miss her still, and look forward to the annual recognition of a picture book in her name.

For more, click on the tag ALA Midwinter 2021.





Martha V. Parravano and Julie Danielson
Martha V. Parravano is book review editor of The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog. Julie Danielson, co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog, writes about picture books at the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.
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Alec Chunn

Thank you & all the contributors for your discussion this year. It's been SUCH a wonderful year for picture books.

Posted : Jan 25, 2021 08:29

Allison Khoury

VERY exciting announcements this morning! I want to thank you both again for another fabulous year of discussion. I look forward to a few entries between now and September (hint, hint!!!) of some books catching your attention. It will get us through until September. Can't wait to see what Dean chooses for the Robin Smith prize!!

Posted : Jan 25, 2021 05:15

jules Danielson

Thanks, Allison!

Posted : Jan 25, 2021 05:15



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