The Caldecott Medal, begun in 1938, is awarded annually by the American Library Association's Children's & School Librarians sections to the artist of the most distinguished picture book for children published in the US during the preceding year. The award is named after influential 19th century British illustrator Randolph Caldecott.
The Gund Library owns every Caldecott award winning book since the award was started in 1938 and continues to add the winner every year after the award is announced each January.
Randolph Caldecott (1846-1886) changed the way picture books were illustrated, heralding the beginning of the modern picture book. Though he briefly attended two art schools, he was largely self-taught. He drew inspiration from the landscape and architecture of his childhood to enliven his illustrations beyond merely reflecting the story or rhyme, making them integral and equal to the text. He was one of the first illustrators to reject black and white illustrations in favor of color woodblock printing (working with the printing firm of Edmund Evans).
Illustrator Maurice Sendak describes Caldecott as "an illustrator ... songwriter ... choreographer … stage manager ... decorator ... and a theater person" calling him simply "superb."
Caldecott is especially known for 16 picture books illustrated in the 1870s and 1880s. The Gund Library has two sets of Caldecott’s picture books in special collections; contact the library staff if you wish to see these books.
R. Caldecott's picture books (Special Collections NC 978.5.C3 P5 vol. 1-4)
Randolph Caldecott’s “Graphic” Pictures (Special Collections NC 978.5.C3 G7 folio vol. 1-4)
Image: Caldecott's illustration for "The House That Jack Built," one of the first two picture books by Caldecott.