The Carle Museum’s New Exhibition: The Caldecott Medal: 75 Years of Distinguished Illustration

Friday, January 4th, 2013

From The Carle Museum’s website:

The Caldecott Medal: 75 Years of Distinguished Illustration
January 8 – June 30, 2013

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Caldecott Medal, The Carle Museum, located in Amherst, MA, USA  is mounting a special exhibition of high quality prints, organized by Barbara Elleman, in the Reading Library. At the end of the 1930s, with urging from publisher and children’s book advocate Frederick Melcher, the American Library Association created a highly welcomed award, to recognize the true artistry of illustration in children’s picture books. Designed to parallel the Newbery Award, established in 1922 and presented each year to a book with outstanding literary qualities, the Randolph Caldecott Medal honored a picture book featuring “the most distinguished illustration of the year.” Its namesake, Randolph Caldecott, was a noted British illustrator of the mid 1800s, who had charmed children with energetic interpretations of nursery rhymes that seemingly burst with humor and mischief, and he was considered worthy to symbolize what was to become an internationally recognized award. In 1938, the first Caldecott Medal was presented to Dorothy Lathrop for Animals of the Bible, A Picture Book, and to mark the 75th anniversary of this award, Barbara Elleman has included a little over one-third of the honorees in the display. The exhibition is grouped into four categories: SNOW, HUSBAND AND WIFE TEAMS, FOLKLORE, and LONG LOVED, LONG REMEMBERED. Additionally, nearly all of the books are shelved in the bookcase dedicated to the memory of Lori Schilder, and we are grateful to her family for funding to enable this and future exhibitions.

Join Guest Curator and former Book Links editor Barbara Elleman for an exhibition tour on January 20 at 3:00 pm. Free with Museum Admission. For more information click here

The Caldecott Award is administered by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA). The 75th Anniversary logo was designed by  2008 Caldecott Medal Winner Brian Selznick who has cleverly brought together characters from past Caldecott Medal-winning books — beginning with the very first in 1938 and spanning all the way to the 21st century.

Drawing from a Story: Illustrations by Selected Caldecott Medal Winners

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Last year I joined Rutgers’ (the State University of New Jersery, USA) Child_Lit service. This is a free, unmoderated discussion group convened for the express purpose of examining the theory and criticism of literature for children and young adults. For anyone interested in any aspect of children’s literature, I highly recommend signing up. The service provides a wealth of information and also makes my job a bit easier when looking for events that can be added to our Eventful World calendar.

Last week there was a post on Child_Lit that talked about  Drawing from a Story: Illustrations by Selected Caldecott Medal Winners, an exhibit taking place though May 23rd at the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, PA, USA.

Myths, fables, fairy tales, and folk tales are usually a child’s first steps into the world of literature, and the illustrations that often accompany the text when such stories are published for children stir the imagination and provide entrée to magical worlds. First awarded in 1938, the Caldecott Medal is considered the most prestigious award for children’s illustration. This exhibition will feature the works of selected Caldecott winners from seven decades, including Maurice Sendak, Dorothy Lathrop, David Wiesner [see image at right], Paul O. Zelinsky, Leo and Diane Dillon, Robert McCloskey, and 2010 medal winner, Jerry Pinkney, among many others.

Deidre Johnson responded on Child_Lit with the following comments which she has also allowed us to share with our readers :

I’ve seen it twice and can’t praise it enough. There’s material from most of the major archival collections, such as the Kerlan and deGrummond, as well as a generous sampling from the illustrators’ private collections.

The display is arranged beautifully — sometimes thematically (fairy tales grouped together, for example), sometimes by medium. There’s even an entire corner devoted to art from David Wiesner’s three winners. The exhibit includes not only art from the first Caldecott (and one of Caldecott’s own sketches for John Gilpin’s Ride!) but also from the two most recent winners. Some of the other materials show process (the McCloskey studies for Make Way for Ducklings seen in Marcus’s Caldecott Celebration are on display, and there are also studies for Rohmann’s My Friend Rabbit).

The Brandywine has hosted some fine exhibits associated with children’s literature in the past, but I think this is one of the best.

Reading the World: Snow White in Liaoning

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

It was a very adult literary festival in Beijing where attendees listened to authors while sipping single-malt Scotch and cigarette smoking wasn’t prohibited. So it came as a distinct surprise when in a discussion of Orientalism versus reality in contemporary fiction, the subject shifted to children’s literature.

Born in 1965, author Liu Hong‘s childhood took place during the Cultural Revolution. As a teenager, after the death of Mao, she began to study English. The first book she read in English was Snow White, which she thought was beautiful, with its colored pictures printed on heavy paper; it was, she said, voluptuous and it turned her into a passionate reader of English literature.

English became her other world, her secret language. She kept a diary in English because her family couldn’t read it, and this became the currency of her thoughts and feelings. She moved on from Snow White to Wuthering Heights and years later was disappointed that in Yorkshire she did not get lost in the moors. 

Liu Hong is now a best-selling author of four novels, all of which she wrote in English. 

Who can predict what the effect of a beautiful, well-written children’s book can be? Although she didn’t specify which edition of Snow White made her a reader–and eventually a writer, Liu Hong could well have been influenced by Randall Jarrell and Nancy Ekholm Burkert’s Caldecott Honor award winner, which was published in 1973. 

Who knows, when we donate to organizations– like Room to Read or Books for Laos– that make children’s books in English available overseas, what best-selling author of the future will be caught by the experience of reading in English and will go on to enrich other readers in years to come?