Thank You to the Illustrators

Each year the Association for Library Services to Children awards a special honor, the Caldecott Award, to the illustrator of one picture book. This coveted award has recognized some amazing works over the years and is a great way to highlight the important fact that illustrators contribute significant meaning to the art of children’s literature.

This week we share the Caldecott winners for the past decade. (By the time this article is published there will have been a recently announced 2021 winner, so keep an eye out for a new title to explore!)

2020 The Undefeated, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Kadir Nelson illustrated this beautiful and often heart-wrenching love letter to black Americans, celebrating their achievements while honoring their traumatic history. Each page has gorgeous illustrations highlighting various points in history as well as individuals who have contributed to the world in magnificent ways. In addition to being a Caldecott winner, this book was also the recipient of a 2020 Newbery Honor and the 2020 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award.

2019 Hello Lighthouse, illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Sophie Blackall’s Hello Lighthouse has a fascinating way of blending the simplicity of daily life with a rare window into an interesting part of history. A lighthouse keeper and his wife live alone on the island, going about the task of maintaining the beacon. In time, their family grows, and the monotony of cooking, tending to the light and enjoying moments together plays out visually for readers to enjoy. The pages show beautiful cutaways of the interior of the lighthouse, allowing us a peek back in time.

2018 Wolf in the Snow, illustrated by Matthew Cordell

In this charming wordless book, a child is on her way home from school when she comes across a lost wolf pup as a snowstorm begins. She hears the barks of the wolf’s family in the distance and trudges through the snow to return it safely. Afterward, she finds herself turned around in the windy and white landscape, but her new friends find a way to return the favor.

2017 Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, illustrated by Javaka Steptoe

Jean-Michel Basquiat grew up in Brooklyn, absorbed for hours in his own art, and dreams of becoming a famous artist. His mother encouraged him and taught him that art was more than just pretty paintings. As he grew up, he explored various mediums and became well-known first through his street art. His mother eventually became ill, but Jean-Michel always remembered her influence on him and showed his gratitude for her support.

2016 Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear, illustrated by Sophie Blackall

One evening, a little boy lies awake in bed asking his mother to tell him a true story. She obliges and tells the story of a veterinarian-turned-soldier who rescued a bear cub at a train station. The special bear is given the name Winnie, and eventually goes to live at the London Zoo, where she charms the heart of a little boy named Christopher Robin and his father, A. A. Milne. The veterinarian’s granddaughter turns out to be the mother telling the story, and it is, indeed, the story behind the inspiration for the famed character, Winnie