The 2023 Caldecott Announcement

The Real 2023 Caldecott Committee chose one winner and four honor books.

The winner of the 2023 Caldecott Medal is (hot dog!!!) Hot Dog, illustrated and written by Doug Salati, published by Knopf. A possibly perfect picture book in terms of the interplay of text and art; the expert use of the picture-book form (the way the panels shift from the claustrophobic vertical panels of the city to the expansive horizontal panels of the island escape); and the enormous child appeal in both story and art. ( For those unfamiliar with this winner of a winner please see Adrienne Pettinelli's Calling Caldecott post, which also includes the Horn Book review.)

The four Caldecott honor books are: 

Ain't Burned All the Bright, illustrated by Jason Griffin and written by Jason Reynolds, a Caitlin Dlouhy book, published by Atheneum;


Berry Song, illustrated and written by Michaela Goade, published by Little, Brown;


Knight Owl, illustrated and written by Christopher Denise, a Christy Ottaviano book, published by Little, Brown;


and Choosing Brave: How Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmettt Till Sparked the Civil Rights Movement, illustrated by Janelle Washington and written by Angela Joy, published by Roaring Brook.


Wooooo — and I can't stress this enough — hoooooo! What a stimulating lineup of picture books. Really exciting! From the genre-defying and innovative Ain't Burned All the Bright to the charming whimsy of Knight Owl to the gorgeous immersiveness in nature, tradition, and family of Berry Song to the starkly powerful Choosing Brave. Congratulations to all these books and to the 2023 Caldecott committee, who did such a wonderful job. 

Calling Caldecott readers who voted in our recent mock ballot should also be pleased, since you chose three of the five winners (Hot Dog, Knight Owl, and Choosing Brave). And through the year we provided coverage of all five books on Calling Caldecott, including in the insightful conversation between Julie Roach and members of her 2020 Caldecott committee. Of the three books they chose to discuss, two received Caldecott recognition today — do the great minds of Caldecott committees think alike?


Let's do our usual deeper dive into the Real results. Remarkably, FOUR of the illustrators — winner Doug Salati and honor book recipients Christopher Denise, Jason Griffin, and Janelle Washington — have never received Caldecott recognition before today...and not only that, but Choosing Brave is Washington's debut picture book. Michaela Goade won the Caldecott Medal two years ago (for We Are Water Protectors), becoming the first BIPOC woman to win the award. And here she is with even more Caldecott recognition, becoming the first BIPOC woman to win both the award and an honor. History made! I love seeing those barriers fall.

I'm also happy to see a fairly equal split between women and men illustrators. It feels lately that it's become less of an issue. In the fairly recent past there have been long stretches of years where every Caldecott Medal winner was a man. See for instance the seven years between 2002 (David Wiesner's The Three Pigs) and 2008 (Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret) — not that long ago. With Sophie Blackall winning twice (in 2016 for Finding Winnie and in 2019 for Hello Lighthouse) and Michaela Goade winning in 2021 (a year where every single Caldecott honoree was a woman), the balance feels more even — though it's still something to track, note, and analyze.

How about you all? How are you feeling about the 2023 Caldecott slate? Are you happy or heartbroken? (I'm thinking particularly of Sophie Blackall's Farmhouse and Daniel Minter's Blue, both of which got a lot of love out in the world and in our Calling Caldecott mock vote.) Please weigh in in the comments — and do go back to read our Calling Caldecott coverage of the winning books if you are unfamiliar with any of them, or just want to spend more time with them. I wouldn't blame you in the least. 

Martha V. Parravano

Martha V. Parravano is a contributing editor to The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.

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