Picture Books are NOT just for kids

Everyone here in the US is familiar with the Caldecott medal for children’s picture books. They are primarily for the quality of the illustrations. These are beautiful, fabulous, MOVING books that cover fiction, non-fiction, frivolity and serious topics. Many of them, aside from being works of art, are definite conversation starters. Click HERE for the official Caldecott site, and HERE for a list of winners. Governed by a body of the ALA, here are the criteria & the judging process:

  • The book must be published in English in the United States during the preceding year.
  • The illustrations must be original work.
  • The artist must be a citizen or resident of the United States.
  • The book must be considered for the artistic technique employed; pictorial interpretation of story; appropriateness of style of illustration to the story; delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting mood or information through the pictures; and recognition of a child audience.
  • The book must display respect for children’s understandings, abilities, and appreciations.
  • The book must be a self-contained entity, not dependent on other media for its enjoyment.
 Award process
The committee that decides on the Caldecott Award winner comprises 15 members. 8 are elected by the entire membership of the ALSC and 7 members are appointed by the ALSC President, including the committee’s chairperson. Many publishers send committee members copies of books. In 2009 committee members each received more than 700 titles.To help identify possible contenders, the chairperson will generally ask for committee members to identify strong contenders each month.During fall, each member of the committee may formally nominate seven books.
 

Take a look at the winner’s list! Several have been made into popular movies as well (Polar Express, etc.) These books are wonderful works of art.

A second award for Illustration is awarded at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. This is a World-Wide festival and is amazing in its scope. The Illustration Expo features artists from around the world. Looking at the illustrations and topics is a wonderful insight into the culture, life, and history of each country. Many of their illustrations are FANTASTIC, and somehow we never get them here. For this very prestigious award, artists’ work is judged by a highly qualified celebrity panel, and the winner is given $30,000 and a publishing contract for an international publisher. In addition to recognizing a single artist each year, there is also a “Guest of Honour” country who is the focus of an additional show.  Very cool stuff.

The  third group of awards for picture books are granted by the Society of Children’s Bookwriters & Illustrators. This is a professional association with over 20,000 members WORLD WIDE.  The deadlines for each award are listed on their site, but there was no information about who submits or who judges. I would think there is a member-based panel for each award.

  • The Golden Kite Award, first given in 1973, is the only major children’s book award presented by one’s peers, and, therefore, is one of the most respected and coveted honors in the field.
  • The Sid Fleischman Humor Award is presented to authors whose work exemplifies the excellence of writing in the genre of humor. Magazine Merit Awards are presented for outstanding original magazine work for young people published during that year.
  • The Sue Alexander Most Promising New Work Award, named for author and SCBWI Board Member Sue Alexander, is presented to the best manuscript submitted for individual critique at the Los Angeles Annual Conference.
  • Also presented at the Los Angeles Annual Conference, the Portfolio Award is presented to the best art portfolio on view at the Juried Portfolio Display. All SCBWI Awards are given to works that exhibit excellence in writing or illustration, and genuinely appeal to the interests and concerns of children.
 

Next time you’re in the children’s section, look at some of the picture books. Many of them are more thought-provoking and beautiful than lots of “coffee-table books”….

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2 Comments on “Picture Books are NOT just for kids”

  1. If you like illustrated books for kids (I do too!) you might enjoy a couple of illustrated novels that are strictly for the grown-ups. The Plucker and The Devil’s Rose, both by Brom, are awesome in the sheer dark beauty of the pictures which complement the excellent writing. Brom has also published a full-length novel with pictures based on the Peter Pan story, but with its raw, dark, menacing undercurrents brought to the fore – The Child Thief is perfect for anyone who loves a god fairytale, but isn’t afraid to explore the more dangerous side of the stories.


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