Today I’m happy to feature an old pal of mine, Sarah Howard, Children and Youth Services Manager, Daniel Boone Regional Library, Columbia, Missouri. Sarah was one of the hard working committee members who selected the 2013 Caldecott winner and honor books. I thought you might like to hear more about that process and how many books these folks have to read. Thanks to another friend, talented author Dorinda Nicholson, for suggesting Sarah and thanks to you, Sarah, for such an insightful article.
Randolph Caldecott Medal: A Year of Books
by Sarah J. Howard
Literally, it was a year of books. I received over 600 picture books just at my home. As you can imagine, it is a librarians dream. There are two ways to be on the Caldecott Award Committee. One is to be nominated to run in an election and the other is to be appointed. I was appointed after being nominated a couple years ago.
I found this a very daunting and exciting committee. I am not an artist by trade, and I would be one of 15 people choosing the most distinguished picture book for children published in 2012. It is the chance of a lifetime. I learned how to do some art detective work, and for example, how to say gouache (gwäSH) without hesitating too much.
The committee was great. All types of personalities, ages, and parts of the country. I believe we all feel that if we are in each other’s neck of the woods in the future and have a flat tire, we have a contact to call. Our chair, Sandy Imdieke, was GREAT. It makes all the difference in the world to stay organized as well as open minded throughout the process. (Make friends with your UPS driver!) It is a true professional and human gift to be in a room for days with folks who have given the same thoughtful consideration to titles and to have the luxury of talking about the books in depth.
As you can imagine, anything that takes place in the meetings and emails is “hush hush.” No “Final” list of books exists…trust me…anything published that met the criteria was considered. I knew the final secret for over 24 hours. It was wonderful. During that time I had to mail some books back to my home (to avoid paying more for extra luggage at the airport). I stepped onto the elevator with some books, hidden in a bag, unconsciously tightly clutched to my chest. Two other librarians were on the elevator. As we reached my floor one said “Looks like you are holding onto something really important there.” I answered, “Yes, I was on the Caldecott Committee this year, I am holding big secrets.” They oohed and aahed and wished me luck. This award changes not only the creator’s life but the lives of future readers. And even a little librarian from Missouri. In this, an age of apps, celebrations of the printed art and word for children should be savored and celebrated. The combined Newbery/Caldecott banquet will be held at the American Library Association Conference this June. It is our academy awards. The winner of each award will speak and it will be an opportunity to dress up and celebrate everyone’s hard work. But the biggest celebration, really, was getting to call the winners at 6:00am on a Monday morning before the press conference, and hear their voices. We reached them all! That was worth all the hours of pouring over the books right there.
For only the second time in Caldecott history (the other being in 1947, Leonard Weisgard), the winner also had an honor book.
The 2013 winner and honor books (and history): http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/caldecottmedal/caldecottmedal
Here is a link to the Terms and Criteria for the award
Thanks for reading!