Discussing famed children's illustrator Randolph Caldecott, Maurice Sendak remarked, "Caldecott's work heralds the beginning of the modern picture book. He devised an ingenious juxtaposition of picture and word, a counterpoint that never happened before. Words are left out—but the picture says it. Pictures are left out—but the word says it." Should he have lived to today, Caldecott would be 166 years old. He is well known for his incorporation of hunting and the outdoors into his illustrations along with his informal, minimalist use of prose and imagery in his stories. Moreover, his anthropomorphizing of his animal characters established a clear precedent for children's authors who followed in his footsteps, most notably Sendak, Margaret Wise Brown, and Beatrice Potter.
The Caldecott Medal for "the most distinguished book for children" features Caldecott's cover illustration for The Diverting History of John Henry Gilpin on the obverse side and his illustration for "Four and twenty blackbirds bak'd in a pie" from Sing A Song of Sixpence on the reverse. Should you feel like celebrating the birthday of this innovative illustrator, check out the latest Caldecott Medal recipient, A Ball for Daisy. You can also take a peek at our digital collection of William Steig's Caldecott-winning illustrations for Sylvester and the Magic Pebble on our website. Our Rare Book Department has a stunning collection of early American children's books that precedes Caldecott's work. All in all, the Free Library offers a multitude of ways to commemorate Caldecott's birth, life, and work!