The Caldecott Medal recognizes the best illustrated American picture book for children published in the United States during the preceding year. Here are the ten most recent Caldecott Medal winners.
This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen (2013). In this darkly humorous tale, a tiny fish knows it’s wrong to steal a hat. It fits him just right. But the big fish wants his hat back. Klassen’s controlled palette, opposing narratives and subtle cues compel readers to follow the fish and imagine the consequence.
A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka (2012). In a wordless book with huge children’s appeal, Chris Raschka gives us the story of an irrepressible little dog whose most prized possession is accidently destroyed. With brilliant economy of line and color, Raschka captures Daisy’s total (yet temporary) devastation. A buoyant tale of loss, recovery and friendship.
A Sick Day for Amos McGee illustrated by Erin Stead, written by Philip Stead (2011). In this tender tale of reciprocity and friendship, zookeeper Amos McGee gets the sniffles and receives a surprise visit from his caring animal friends. Erin Stead’s delicate woodblock prints and fine pencil work complement Philip Stead’s understated, spare and humorous text to create a well-paced, gentle and satisfying book, perfect for sharing with friends.
The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney (2010). The screech of an owl, the squeak of a mouse and the roar of a lion transport readers to the Serengeti plains for this virtually wordless retelling of Aesop’s classic fable. In glowing colors, Pinkney’s textured watercolor illustrations masterfully portray the relationship between two very unlikely friends.
The House in the Night illustrated by Beth Krommes, written by Susan Marie Swanson (2009). Richly detailed black-and-white scratchboard illustrations expand this timeless bedtime verse, offering reassurance to young children that there is always light in the darkness. Krommes’ elegant line, illuminated with touches of golden watercolor, evoke the warmth and comfort of home and family, as well as the joys of exploring the wider world.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (2008). From an opening shot of the full moon setting over an awakening Paris in 1931, this tale casts a new light on the picture book form. Hugo is a young orphan secretly living in the walls of a train station where he labors to complete a mysterious invention left by his father. In a work of more than 500 pages, the suspenseful text and wordless double-page spreads narrate the tale in turns. Neither words nor pictures alone tell this story, which is filled with cinematic intrigue. Black & white pencil illustrations evoke the flickering images of the silent films to which the book pays homage.
Flotsam by David Wiesner (2007). Flotsam is a cinematic unfolding of discovery. A vintage camera washed up on the beach provides a young boy with a surprising view of fantastical images from the bottom of the sea. From fish-eye to lens-eye, readers see a frame-by-frame narrative of lush marinescapes ebbing and flowing from the real to the surreal.
The Hello, Goodbye Window illustrated by Chris Raschka, written by Norton Juster (2006). In this sunny portrait of familial love, a little girl tells us about her everyday experiences visiting her grandparents’ house. Raschka’s style resembles the spontaneous drawings of children, perfectly mirroring the guileless young narrator’s exuberant voice. White space balances the density of the layered colors, creating a visual experience that is surprisingly sophisticated.
Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes (2005). Henkes employs boldly outlined organic shapes and shades of black, white and gray with rose undertones on creamy paper to tell a simple story of a kitten who mistakes the moon for a bowl of milk. The moon, the flowers, the fireflies’ lights and the kitten’s eyes create a comforting circle motif. The gouache and colored pencil illustrations project a varied page design that rhythmically paces the spare text.
The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein (2004). This true story recounts the daring feat of a spirited young Frenchman who walked a tightrope between the World Trade Center twin towers in 1974. His joy in dancing on a thin wire high above Manhattan and the awe of the spectators in the streets far below is captured in exquisite ink and oil paintings that perfectly complement the spare, lyrical text.
For a complete list of Caldecott Medal Winner and Honor Books, from 1938 to the present, see the Association for Library Service to Child (ALSC) website.
* All book descriptions on this page are from the Association for Library Service to Child (ALSC) website.