The Randolph Caldecott Medal
In the United States, receiving the Randolph Caldecott Medal is the highest honor an artist can achieve for children’s book illustration. Established in 1937, this medal is given to the artist who has created the most distinguished picture book of the previous year. It accompanies the prestigious Newbery Medal which is awarded for the most distinguished American children’s book published the previous year.
The Randolph Caldecott Medal is awarded by the American Library Association and was named in honor of the nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph J. Caldecott. Caldecott’s illustrations for children were unique to their time in both their humor and in their ability to create a sense of movement, vitality, and action that complemented the stories they accompanied.
The Randolph Caldecott Medal itself captures that vitality. Rene’ Paul Chambellan designed the medal in 1937, inspired by one of Caldecott’s illustrations for “The Diverting Story of John Gilpin,” showing John Gilpin astride a runaway horse, scattering squawking geese, chased by yelping dogs, and waved at by startled onlookers.
Significantly, the recipient of the Randolph Caldecott Medal is memorialized on the reverse of the medal with engraved name and date of award.