Monday, January 20, 2014


Every year awards are given by the American Library Association for the most distinguished contributions to American literature for children. The gold and silver medals that adorn the covers of winning and honor
books indicate the very best works published that year. The Caldecott Medal (named after 19th century illustrator Randolph Caldecott) is awarded based on a book’s pictures and is awarded to the illustrator of the story. There is one gold medal winner and several silver honor books chosen each year.

Some truly fine books have been awarded medals over the years. From the very first winner in 1938 (Animals of the Bible, illustrated by Dorothy P Lathrop) all the way to This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen in 2013, the past 75 years have highlighted the very best artists working in their field. For a complete list of all the Caldecott  Medal and Honor books click here. Many of these books are available from Glendale Library, Arts, & Culture.  Contact your local branch to request copies.

The 2014 winner of the 76th Caldecott Medal will be announced on Monday, January 27th.  Below are several titles generating buzz this year:

Like many people, Laszlo is afraid of the dark. He can never seem to get away from it - it’s in the closet, behind the shower curtain, outside, and in the basement. Usually, the dark leaves Laszlo alone, but one night it pays him a visit (his nightlight burns out). Follow Laszlo as he gathers his courage and faces his fears in The Dark written by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Jon Klassen.

The illustrations are spooky and atmospheric, almost claustrophobic at times, which perfectly captures the feeling one gets when the power goes out. The dark is an inky blackness, only punctuated by the direct beam of Laszlo’s flashlight. One criterion the Caldecott committee looks for is how well a book’s illustrations tell the story in the absence of text. In this regard, Klassen has hit the nail on the head. When going through this book and looking only at the illustrations, the storyline is perfectly clear and the pictures do a fine job of conveying the rising sense of tension that Laszlo feels as he moves through the house.

The Dark is a pretty strong contender for a Caldecott medal. Illustrator Jon Klassen won two awards last year and the result of this pairing between Snicket and Klassen is pretty incredible.

The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos written Deborah Heiligman and illustrated by LeUyen Pham is a biographical picture book about the Hungarian mathematician. It follows Paul’s life from a small child fascinated by numbers to a genius whose work influenced the very computers and search engines we use today. Paul was an eccentric fellow, but he shared his passion for numbers and math with researchers all over the world.

Illustrator LeUyen Pham takes Paul’s love of numbers and incorporates them into every aspect of the illustrations. Numbers are subtly included in building windows, the geometry of rooftops, and in hidden mathematical equations. The amount of research behind Pham’s illustrations is impressive and she devotes meticulous details to show the reader the world the way Paul saw it, with everything a mathematical possibility.

Another strong Caldecott contender! The illustrations are bright and whimsical and make the reader want to pour over each page looking for the details. It will surely spark an interest in the way numbers operate all around us.

For readers of all ages. 

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