The Caldecott Medal has been given to the artist of the most distinguished picture book by the Association for Library Services to Children since 1938. It must be a tricky thing, separating the art from the words and yet making sure they both work together to create the story.
To create the illustrations for this year’s winner, Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, Javaka Steptoe used the same techniques as Basquiat with bright colors of acrylic paint on found wood and collage. While focusing on the events and sights that influenced Basquiat’s art, Steptoe also manages to sensitively convey the difficult times in his life. In an end note, Steptoe invites readers to use their environment to create art of their own.
The committee chose 4 honor books this year.
Leave Me Alone! by Vera Brosgol turns a grandmother’s wish for a little time to knit in peace and quiet into a traditional folk tale with her illustrations. Grandmother never quite finds the time she needs, even on the moon.
One day a week, the slaves in Louisiana were allowed an afternoon off to meet. In New Orleans, that place was Congo Square. Carole Boston Weatherford tells the story of counting down the days until the slaves could enjoy Freedom in Congo Square. The illustrations by R. Gregory Christie start out dark and constrained and gradually become full of motion and color when the slaves are allowed to sing, dance and celebrate on Sunday afternoon.
Duz Iz Tak? written and Illustrated by Carson Ellis works on many levels. Are the words baby talk? An alien language? Could be either and yet you know exactly what’s being said. The honor was awarded for the illustrations and while they may seem simple at first, there are layers of activity going on in this backyard world.
Would a dog, a fish, or a bat “see” a cat the same way? Brendan Wenzel explores this idea in They All Saw A Cat. Each vison is different and Wenzel uses a wide variety of media in very colorful ways inviting conversations and rereading.
If you want more, my favorite picture books from last year are here.
Find these and more at your neighborhood library or at jocolibrary.org