Caldecott Roundup! The 1970s

The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-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. 


The Caldecott Medal has been given out annually since 1938, and many of the recipients have been favorites ever since!


Here is the fourth set of winners, from 1970-79. Do you recognize any of them?

1970 "Sylvester and the Magic Pebble" illustrated and written by William Steig

One rainy day, Sylvester finds a magic pebble that can make wishes come true. But when a lion frightens him on his way home, Sylvester makes a wish that brings unexpected results.


1971 "A Story, A Story" illustrated and retold by Gail E. Haley

Once, all the stories in the world belonged to Nyame, the Sky God. He kept them in a box beside his throne. But Ananse, the Spider man, wanted them and caught three sly creatures to get them. This story of how we got our own stories to tell is adapted from an African folktale.


1972 "One Fine Day" illustrated and retold by Nonny Hogrogian

“One fine day a fox traveled through the great forest. When he reached the other side he was very thirsty.” The jaunty red fox stole milk from an old farm woman, lost his tail under the annoyed woman’s knife, and spent the day bargaining to get it back. This humorous retelling of a favorite Armenian folktale is a story small children will follow and read along with ease.


1973 "The Funny Little Woman" illustrated by Blair Lent and retold by Arlene Mosel

In this tale set in Old Japan, a lively little woman who loves to laugh pursues her runaway dumpling and must outwit the wicked three-eyed oni when she lands in their clutches.


1974 "Duffy and the Devil" illustrated by Margot Zemach and retold by Harve Zemach

Duffy and the Devil was a popular play in Cornwall in the nineteenth century, performed at the Christmas season by groups of young people who went from house to house. The Zemachs have interpreted the folk tale which the play dramatized, recognizable as a version of the widespread Rumpelstiltskin story. Its main themes are familiar, but the character and details of this picture book are entirely Cornish, as robust and distinctive as the higgledy-piggledy, cliff-hanging villages that dot England's southwestern coast from Penzance to Land's End.


1975 "Arrow to the Sun" illustrated and retold by Gerald McDermott

A young boy searches for his father, but before he can claim his heritage he must first prove his worthiness by passing through the four ceremonial chambers: the kiva of lions, the kiva of snakes, the kiva of bees, and the kiva of lightning. Striking in its simplicity and grace, Arrow to the Sun vividly evokes the Native American reverence for the source of all life the Solar Fire.


1976 "Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears" illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon and retold by Verna Aardema

In this West African folk tale, a mosquito brags to an iguana that he spied a farmer digging yams as big as mosquitoes. The iguana scoffs at such a notion and refuses to listen to any more nonsense. Grumbling, he puts sticks in his ears and scuttles off through the reeds and sets off a chain reaction among myriad animals inhabiting the same landscape. The iguana offends a friendly python, who shoots down a rabbit hole and terrifies a rabbit. Seeing the rabbit scares a crow overhead, who spreads an alarm that danger is near. When a monkey reacts to the alarm, an owlet is killed, which sets off a wave of grieving in the mother owl so profound that she is unable to wake the sun each day with her hooting. The nights grow longer, and when the King Lion calls a meeting to get to the bottom of the situation, the chain of events is traced back to the source of all the trouble: the pesky mosquito.


1977 "Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions" illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon and retold by Margaret Musgrove

Artists Leo and Diane Dillon won their second consecutive Caldecott Medal for this stunning ABC of African culture. "Another virtuoso performance. . . . Such an astute blend of aesthetics and information is admirable, the child's eye will be rewarded many times over." Booklist.


1978 "Noah's Ark" illustrated by Peter Spier

The bee and the fox, the sheep and the ox — two of each kind trudged aboard Noah's famous vessel. Peter Spier uses his own translation of a seventeenth-century Dutch poem about this most famous menagerie.


1979 "The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses" illustrated and written by Paul Goble

A Plains Indian girl is lost in the mountains during a storm. A wild stallion becomes her friend and she decides to ride free with the herd even after she is found.

Some of these books are available at the Swanton Public Library. If you are interested in reading one that we don't have, we can definitely order a copy!

We'll continue rounding up the Caldecotts by decade until we reach today. Stay tuned!


Descriptions adapted from GoodReads and Amazon.

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