Horn Book Cover Madness

Hello from the Calling Caldecott off-season, and welcome to our version of college basketball's March Madness — a celebration of Horn Book cover art and artists! 

Calling Caldecott prides itself on being a place where lively discussion and celebration of children’s book illustration takes place. The Magazine has a spectacular array of cover art (see our gallery from 2000 through today here), and we're improvising on the standard March Madness brackets to shine a light on cover artists' phenomenal work.

Here's what to do:

Beginning next week, we will invite you to "vote" (via the comments below and/or social media: IG: @thehornbook| X: @HornBook | Facebook.com/TheHornBook) on your favorite Magazine cover from each posted grouping. The six top-vote-getters will face off in two groups of three. Those two winners compete in a head-to-head matchup, and by the end of this very-subjective, not-serious event, six covers will emerge as the “winners” — we use that term very loosely as we really do love them all!

First up are the January/Februray covers, next our March/April covers; and so on. You can do some pre-gaming here.

Why now? 

Maybe you've heard that 2024 is The Horn Book's centennial year. Randolph Caldecott’s Three Jovial Huntsmen (above) graced the cover of The Horn Book Magazine from its founding in 1924 (with occasional divergences: see this week's Horn Book trivia) until a new era began with an original illustration by Maurice Sendak (who better to replace Mr. Caldecott?!) for the November/December 1985 issue. For the next fourteen years, covers by such chidlren's-book-illustration icons as William Steig, Arnold Lobel, Vera B. Williams, David Macaulay, and Barbara Cooney followed, each providing the art for a year's worth of issues.

With the January/February 2000 issue, it was time for another cover evolution: going forward, each issue of the Magazine featured art from a different illustrator. Some covers are original pieces; some are illustrations reprinted from books in a particular issue. 

As you’re looking at the covers, think about which ones really pop, reflect a theme or time of year especially well, interact with the title text in clever ways, and are particularly suited for the cover space. Make your completely subjective choices heard! 

Follow along with our brackets coverage:


A centennial's worth of thanks to Summer Edward, without whose brilliant coding and design acumen — and good-humored tenacity — this would not have been possible.


Julie Hakim Azzam

Calling Caldecott co-author Julie Hakim Azzam is the assistant director of the MFA program in the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She holds a PhD in literary and cultrual studies, with a specialization in comparative contemporary postcolonial literature from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Southeast Asia. Her most recent work focuses on children's literature, stories about immigrants and refugees, and youth coping with disability.

Kitty Flynn

Kitty Flynn is reviews editor for The Horn Book, Inc.

Cynthia K. Ritter
Cynthia K. Ritter

Cynthia K. Ritter is managing editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She earned a master's degree in children's literature from Simmons University. She served on the 2019 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award committee.

Summer Edward

Horn Book Consulting Editor Summer Edward is a Trinidadian American author, children’s book editor, educator, K-12 literacy specialist, Caribbean children’s and YA literature advocate, and commentator on books for young readers. She holds an M.S.Ed. degree in Reading, Writing, Literacy from the University of Pennsylvania and founded Anansesem, an online magazine that for 10 years covered Caribbean children’s and YA literature. She has written for Kirkus ReviewsSchool Library JournalThe Horn BookWOW Stories: Connections from the ClassroomLiteracy Dailysx salon, KidLit TV, the Commonwealth Education Trust, Social Justice Books, and more. Learn more about her work at www.summeredward.com.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

Susan Straub

MOOSE on book-bongos 🎶❤️

Posted : Apr 19, 2024 11:03

Rebecca McDonald

I vote for Paul Zelinsky's MOOSE!

Posted : Apr 17, 2024 02:32

Kathleen Page

Paul Zelinsky and the playful moose!

Posted : Apr 17, 2024 11:42



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.