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Last Call for the Caldecotts

Caldecotts at 540 Powell

Caldecott Medal-winning books on display at 540 Powell. Photo by Erasmo Guerra.

Named after the 19th century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott, the prestigious Caldecott Medal 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.

The Academy of Art University Library has each of the 81 Caldecott Medal-winning books, spanning the entire history that the award has been in existence since 1938. In a joint effort between the library and the School of Illustration (ILL), 40 of these titles have been on display recently in two separate exhibits—20 at 540 Powell, in the lobby across from the campus host desk, and 20 at the entrance of the library at 180 New Montgomery.

With many ILL alums going into the world of children’s book publishing, ILL Director Chuck Pyle thought it was important to raise awareness of the Caldecott award. The exhibit, he said, will enrich a student’s sense of history and let them know “they can be a part of that legacy. It’s only a matter of when—not if.”

According to Academy Library Director Debra Sampson, the Caldecott-winning title with the most borrows on record is Saint George and the Dragon, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. The fantasy book, set “in the days when monsters and giants and fairy folk lived in England,” is a retelling of the epic poem The Faerie Queene and it won the Caldecott in 1985.

Since the exhibit opened, the most popular books that have been checked out have been Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China, translated and illustrated by Ed Young and Always Room for One More, illustrated by Nonny Hogrogian.

Though the exhibit has been extended from its initial spring semester run, it won’t be around forever. Students, faculty and staff only have until the end of August, when, Sampson said, she plans on taking down the display once the summer semester comes to a close.

But the books won’t disappear completely. They’ll be back on the shelves, ready to draw even the most grown up of readers into the wondrous worlds within their pages, thanks to the power of their stories and pictures.