The Caldecott Torch

Sophie Blackall and Matthew Cordell holding The Caldecott TorchCalling Caldecott readers may remember this September post in which Caldecott medalist Sophie Blackall mentioned how she and fellow medalist Matthew Cordell (the two most recent winners) recently brainstormed a new Caldecott tradition. Sophie's fab idea, which she suggested as she chatted with Matt at this year's ALA Annual conference, was that a new sketchbook be designated for Caldecott medalists. In that book, each medalist would claim a page, draw on it, and then give it to the next artist — passing the torch, if you will. 

Both Sophie and Matt loved this idea but hadn't gotten around to creating the book. 

Until now.

The two illustrators found themselves at the Virginia Children's Book Festival last week, where Matt presented to Sophie a sketchbook he had chosen and into which he had entered the inaugural drawing. The book is now in Sophie's hands, ready for her contribution. Matt wrote the following on Instagram and is happy for us to share it here at Calling Caldecott:  

"I knew I'd be seeing her at this festival, so I brought along a modest-sized watercolor sketchbook. (With a new Caldecott medal comes a new year of lots of Caldecott-related work and deadlines, so ... not too big!) On my flight over and in the hotel, I whipped up a cover page, plus my contribution.

This is a 36-page book. So, provided this sticks, it should last the next 30 years or so. Then another book will need to be created. I love the idea of a literal 'turning of the page' from one medalist to the next. And I love the idea of a book of drawings that belongs to no one. Can't wait to see what Sophie does with the next page. Can't wait to see who the torch will be passed to next. Here's to new traditions!"

We here at Calling Caldecott think this is spectacular in many directions. (Can you imagine what such a sketchbook would look like if it had been started in 1938? Be still, our hearts.) Like Matt, we wonder what Sophie's drawing will look like. We wonder who will be contributing a drawing after Sophie. Whose drawings will be in this volume, as well as the ones that follow, and what stories will those contributions tell? We love the idea of a book of drawings that, as Matt puts it, belongs to no one. If it belongs to no one, then perhaps it belongs to all of us. To those of us who care about children and the books they read. To illustration. To children's literature. 

Pictured below is the new book and Matt's contribution. 

Julie Danielson

Julie Danielson

Julie Danielson writes about picture books at the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. She also reviews for The Horn Book, Kirkus, and BookPage and is a lecturer for the School of Information Sciences graduate program at the University of Tennessee. Her book Wild Things!: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, written with Betsy Bird and Peter D. Sieruta, was published in 2014.

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Julie Patricia

Such a brilliant idea! A museum piece in the making. I hope the contents will be published in some form each year -- I can't wait to see how it evolves!

Posted : Oct 23, 2019 01:48

Dean Schneider

What a great idea! And as I sit here sipping coffee in my kitchen, on the wall in front of me is artwork by Sophie (Hello Lighthouse) and Matthew (Wolf in the Snow).

Posted : Oct 21, 2019 09:38



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