Monday, January 11, 2016

Q & A about the 2016 Newbery and Caldecott Medals

The 2016 American Library Association Youth Media Awards were very exciting in the world of children’s literature. Boundaries were pushed. Records were set. And you may be left with some questions.

Question: How do you spell the name of that big award that is given every year for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children?

Answer: Newbery. Newbery. Newbery. NOT NewBERRY. It is named for eighteenth-century English bookseller John Newbery, and he only had one R in his last name. 

Question: What won the 2016 Newbery Medal?

Answer: Last Stop on Market Street, written by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson. It is 32 pages and it is a picture book.

Question: Wait; how did a PICTURE BOOK win the Newbery Medal? I thought that award was for novels. Isn’t the Caldecott Medal for picture books?

Answer: Both the Newbery and the Caldecott criteria define children as “persons of ages up to and including fourteen, and books for this entire age range are to be considered.”

Picture books were always eligible for the Newbery. This is just the first picture book to win. This also means that an illustrated book for older kids, up to age 14, is eligible for the Caldecott.

Question: So what won? The words, or the pictures?

Answer: For the Newbery Medal- the words won, and the Newbery Medal will be given to Matt de la Peña, the author.

However, the ALA Youth Media Awards were very good to Last Stop on Market Street. It also won a Caldecott Honor and a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Award. Both of these awards are for the art and will be given to Christian Robinson, the illustrator. The book won three awards in all.

Question: What won the 2016 Caldecott Medal?

Answer: Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear, illustrated by Sophie Blackall, written by Lindsay Mattick.

Question: I thought Sophie Blackall is Australian and Lindsay Mattick is Canadian. Isn’t the Caldecott an American award? Wouldn’t that make Finding Winnie ineligible?

Answer: The Caldecott criteria states "the award is restricted to artists who are citizens or residents of the United States. "

Since the Caldecott Medal is only given to the artist, not the author- it is only the artist that needs to be eligible. So, it doesn’t matter where Lindsay Mattick lives.

Sophie Blackall is currently a resident of the United States, which makes Finding Winnie eligible.

Question: I’ve got more questions!

Answer: Ask them in the comments. I’ll try to answer them.

P.S. Newbery. One R. 


  1. Very informative after a day of surprises! Thanks for clearing things up.

  2. Love this post, Susan. Thanks for helping to clear people's confusion. And thanks for all the Caldecott advice!

    1. Karen- you are welcome on all fronts. Congratulations to you and the entire 2016 Caldecott committee for making such outstanding choices.

  3. I've been thinking a lot about the Newbery criteria to focus on text, and wonder if one can reasonably interpret it to mean the book as a whole. Here is the first definition from the online OED:
    1A book or other written or printed work, regarded in terms of its content rather than its physical form:
    a text that explores pain and grief

    I'm really curious--what do you think about this idea of looking at a book as a whole?

    1. Mary Ann- intriguing to think about- and certainly something people ask a lot. Why doesn't the Caldecott or the Newbery consider both pictures AND text?

      I think- to consider both words and text completely and equally- you would have to change the criteria as they are currently written.

      I've only been on the Caldecott committee- not the Newbery- so I haven't memorized and analyzed the Newbery criteria in the same way that I have with the Caldecott criteria.

      I always come back to this line in the Caldecott criteria: "The committee is to make its decision primarily on the illustration, but other components of a book are to be considered especially when they make a book less effective as a children’s picture book. Such other components might include the written text, the overall design of the book, etc."

  4. Great post. I learned today that actually A Visit to William Blake's Inn was the first picture book to win the Newbery Medal in 1981. It was discussed on Elizabeth Bird's blog. :)

  5. Yes, I debated posting about A Visit to William Blake's Inn. It is a picture book in some regards, but not so much in others. Last Stop on Market Street is very much a traditional picture book, so that's why I said it was the first one. It could be argued that William Blake was the first.

    1. Interestingly enough- A Visit to William Blake's Inn also won a Newbery Medal and a Caldecott Honor, just like Last Stop on Market Street did this year. Although, Market Street got a third award because of the Coretta Scott King Honor.

    2. (readitrealgood here, the comment system is being weird)

      Ah I see. Thanks for clearing that up. I want to get a copy of A Visit to William Blake's Inn from the library and see what it's about. :)

  6. Readitrealgood - it's a very intriguing question. I've been seeing A Visit to William Blake's Inn mentioned as the first Newbery Medal picture book in several of the articles about this year's Newbery Medal. I've always thought of it as a book of illustrated poetry. I'm planning on writing a post soon with some of my thoughts- and hope you get a chance to check it out from the library and take a look at it- and share your thoughts. It's an absolutely beautiful book.