New Exhibition Celebrates Outstanding Children's Book Illustrations

The Academy of Art University Library and the School of Illustration (ILL) are hosting a joint exhibition of Caldecott Medal-winning illustrated children’s books. Books will be on display at both the library at 180 New Montgomery and at 540 Powell. The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of the 19th century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.

Staff Picks display

The Staff Picks display at the Academy Library. These Caldecott Medal-winning illustrated children’s books are available for checkout. Photo by Debra Sampson.

The American Library Association began awarding the Newbery Medal in 1922 to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. However, as many persons became concerned that the artists creating picture books for children were as deserving of honor and encouragement as were the authors of children’s books, Frederic G. Melcher suggested in 1937 the establishment of a second annual medal. This medal is to be given to the artist who had created the most distinguished picture book of the year and named in honor of the nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph J. Caldecott. The first winning title, Animals of the Bible, was announced in January of 1938.

The Academy of Art University Library has each of the 81 award-winning titles and sought to bring visibility to this wonderful collection. Forty of the titles are on display; 20 at the 540 Powell building in the lobby across from the Campus Host desk and 20 in the display cases at the entrance of the library. The other 41 titles are available for checkout from the library and are a part of the Staff Picks display.

lude works from several well-known illustrators, including Nicolas Sidjakov, Chris Van Allsburg, Robert Lawson and Robert McCloskey. The 1955 winner, titled Frog Went A-Courtin’, was illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky, an artist whose work “fascinated” ILL Director Chuck Pyle as a child. The 2010 winning title, The Lion & the Mouse, a wordless adaptation of one of Aesop’s most beloved fables, is also on display. It was illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, the 2016 recipient of the Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement. The annual award is presented in even years to an African American author, illustrator or author/illustrator for a body of his or her published books for children and/or young adults, and who has made a significant and lasting literary contribution. 

Both the library and ILL invite you to view this exhibition, which is on display through Saturday, May 26. For more information regarding the exhibit, including a digital book display of the titles, information on Randolph Caldecott and his work and information regarding the library’s resources on illustrated children’s books, please visit: