This month’s picture book favorites share the distinguished honor of being Caldecott Medal winners. Named in honor of illustrator Randolph Caldecott, this annual award is given to the picture book artist who illustrated the previous year’s “most distinguished American picture book for children.” The (ALSC) Association of Library Services to Children’s list of winners goes back to 1938 and includes some personal favorites that I’ve shared in previous posts. Here are a few more of my favorite Caldecott-winning books to add to your reading and gift-giving lists. Enjoy!
“Finding Winnie” written by Lindsay Mattick and illustrated by Sophie Blackall (Copyright 2015, Little Brown and Company) is a heartwarming true story about the real-life friendship between Captain Harry Colebourn and the bear cub he named Winnie, in tribute to his hometown of Winnipeg. Harry was a veterinarian who’d been called away from home to take care of soldiers’ horses during World War I. When the train he was riding stopped at a station, Harry came across a man with a tiny bear cub. Something about the little bear touched Harry’s heart, so he bought it from the man and took it to war with him. Sophie Blackall’s stunning artwork will be your guide through this journey of a lifetime that ultimately inspired the Winnie-the-Pooh book series. Authored by Harry Colebourn’s great-granddaughter, the last few pages of the book contain an album of family photos and records that document Harry and Winnie’s unique relationship. This is one of my all-time favorite books because it speaks to the heart of its readers.
“The Snowy Day” written and illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats (Copyright 1962, Penguin Viking Press) was the first book that Mr. Keats both wrote and illustrated. It won the 1963 Caldecott Medal and “broke the color barrier in mainstream children’s book publishing by being embraced across social and ethnic boundaries.” The story follows young Peter, who wakes up on a winter morning to see everything outside his window covered in snow. He puts on his snowsuit and discovers all kinds of snow-filled adventures before returning home with a snowball in his pocket. Once inside, he soaks in a warm bath before going back to his jacket to get the snowball — but is sad to see that his pocket is empty. After dreaming that the snow outside had all melted away, he wakes up to find yesterday’s snow still there with more falling. The last set of pages show Peter and a friend walking out into the falling snow together. If you’re a fan of Ezra Jack Keats, I also recommend the book “A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day” by Andrea Davis Pinkney.
“Owl Moon” written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by John Schoenherr (Copyright 1987, Philomel Books) is about a father and daughter who spend a snowy winter’s night looking for a Great Horned Owl by the light of a full moon. This Caldecott Medal winner is beautifully illustrated using double-page spreads that bring all the sights and sounds of the story into focus. Readers experience the suspense of the search and the reward that can be found when a Great Horned Owl stares you down, giving you “the kind of hope that flies on silent wings under a shining Owl Moon.”
If you have a favorite Caldecott Medal winning picture book to recommend, I’d love to hear about it. The complete listing of Caldecott Medal and Honor books can be viewed and/or downloaded at https://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/caldecott.
Happy reading! 😊