Steve asked here about Caldecott Books.
For those unfamiliar, the Caldecott medal is given to the ARTIST who has created the most distinguished PICTURE book of the year. [ The Newberry award is given to the AUTHOR of the most distinguished CHILDREN'S book of the year, which doesn't have to be a picture book ]. Read more about the awards here. I’ve been collecting Caldecott books since before I had kids and love to give them as gifts.
I find “most distingushed” to be pretty broad. I think they try to award the best overall picture book, not necessarily the prettiest — because sometimes the illustration isn’t that spectacular, but the concept is great. An example of this is my all-time favorite picture book, Ox-Cart Man. The illustrations are good, but the concept and writing is even better.
You can see a complete list of winners here. An amazing number of classic childhood books are on that list. Some favorite caldecott winners at our house:
* 2002: The Three Pigs by David Wiesner (Clarion/Houghton Mifflin)
* 2001: So You Want to Be President? Illustrated by David Small; text by Judith St. George (Philomel Books)
* 2000: Joseph Had a Little Overcoat Simms Taback (Viking)
* 1992: Tuesday by David Wiesner (Clarion Books)
* 1986: The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg (Houghton)
* 1982: Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg (Houghton)
* 1980: Ox-Cart Man, illustrated by Barbara Cooney; text: Donald Hall (Viking)
* 1975: Arrow to the Sun by Gerald McDermott (Viking)
* 1964: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (Harper)
* 1955: Cinderella, or the Little Glass Slipper, illustrated by Marcia Brown; text: translated from Charles Perrault by Marcia Brown (Scribner)
* 1954: Madeline’s Rescue by Ludwig Bemelmans (Viking)
* 1944: Many Moons, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin; text: James Thurber (Harcourt)
* 1943: The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton (Houghton)
* 1942: Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey (Viking)
Runners up are often amazing as well and many are in my collection, but if you look at the lists, you’ll probably recognize the names of the winners more than the runners-up. From the runners up, some of my favorites are:
Click, Clack, Moo
Stinky Cheese Man
To answer Steve’s question: both I and my children love Caldecotts and find they are generally excellent, but there are many more non-Caldecott winners in our book collection than winners. The rythmic books are Oscar’s favorites, I think, mostly because of his age.