Caldecott Roundup! The 1980s

Updated: Aug 6, 2020

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 fifth set winners, from 1980-1989. Do you recognize any of them?

1980 "Ox-Cart Man" illustrated by Barbara Cooney and written by Donald Hall

Thus begins a lyrical journey through the days and weeks, the months, and the changing seasons in the life of one New Englander and his family. The oxcart man packs his goods the wool from his sheep, the shawl his wife made, the mittens his daughter knitted, and the linen they wove. He packs the birch brooms his son carved, and even a bag of goose feathers from the barnyard geese. He travels over hills, through valleys, by streams, past farms and villages. At Portsmouth Market he sells his goods, one by one even his beloved ox. Then, with his pockets full of coins, he wanders through the market, buying provisions for his family, and returns to his home. And the cycle begins again.


1981 "Fables" illustrated and written by Arnold Lobel

'Short, original fables with fresh, unexpected morals poke subtle fun at human foibles through the antics of animals. . . . The droll illustrations, with tones blended to luminescent shading, are complete and humorous themselves.' Association of Library Service to Children, ALA.


1982 "Jumanji" illustrated and written by Chris Van Allsburg

Left on their own for an afternoon, two bored and restless children find more excitement than they bargained for in a mysterious and mystical jungle-adventure board game.


1983 "Shadow" illustrated and translated by Marcia Brown, original text by Blaise Cendrars

Shadow lives in the forest... It goes forth at night / to prowl around the fires. / It even likes to mingle / with the dancers... / Shadow... / It waves with the grasses, / curls up at the foot of trees... But in the African experience Shadow is much more. The village storytellers and shamans of an Africa that is passing into memory called forth for the poet Blaise Cendrars an eerie image, shifting between the beliefs of the present and the spirits of the past. Marcia Brown's stunning illustrations in collage, inspired by her travels in Africa, evoke the atmosphere and drama of a life now haunted, now enchanted by Shadow.


1984 "The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel with Louis Blériot" illustrated and written by Alice and Martin Provensen

"This book... recounts the persistence of a Frenchman, Louis Blériot, to build a flying machine to cross the English Channel.... The text is succinct, caption-like in its directness and brevity.... The paintings... add the necessary texture and tone to this marriage. This is vintage Provensen." School Library Journal


1985 "Saint George and the Dragon" illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman and retold by Margaret Hodges

Hodges retells an exciting segment from Spenser's The Faerie Queene, in which the Red Cross Knight slays a dreadful dragon that has been terrorizing the countryside for years, bringing peace and joy back to the land.


1986 "The Polar Express" illustrated and written by Chris Van Allsburg

A young boy, lying awake one Christmas Eve, is welcomed aboard a magical trip to the North Pole . . .  Through dark forests, over tall mountains, and across a desert of ice, the Polar Express makes its way to the city atop the world, where the boy will make his Christmas wish. For millions of readers worldwide, this mysterious journey to the North Pole has become a beloved classic.


1987 "Hey, Al" illustrated by Richard Egielski and written by Arthur Yorinks

Al, a janitor, and his faithful dog, Eddie, live in a single room on the West Side. They eat together, they work together, they do everything together. So what's the problem? Their room is crowded and cramped; their life is an endless struggle. Al and Eddie are practically at each others throats when a large and mysterious bird offers them a new life in paradise. After some debate, they decide to accept. Transported to a gorgeous island in the sky, Al and Eddie are soon living a life of ease and luxury. But they come to find that the grass can be a little too green on the other side. After a dramatic, nearly tragic escape from their paradise prison, both man and dog agree: there really is no place like home. 


1988 "Owl Moon" illustrated by John Schoenherr and written by Jane Yolen

Late one winter night a little girl and her father go owling. The trees stand still as statues and the world is silent as a dream. Whoo-whoo-whoo, the father calls to the mysterious nighttime bird. But there is no answer. Wordlessly the two companions walk along, for when you go owling you don't need words. You don't need anything but hope. Sometimes there isn't an owl, but sometimes there is.


1988 "Song and Dance Man" illustrated by Stephen Gammell and written by Karen Ackerman

"In this affectionate story, three children follow their grandfather up to the attic, where he pulls out his old bowler hat, gold-tipped cane, and his tap shoes. Grandpa once danced on the vaudeville stage, and as he glides across the floor, the children can see what it was like to be a song and dance man. Gammell captures all the story's inherent joie de vivre with color pencil renderings that leap off the pages. Bespectacled, enthusiastic Grandpa clearly exudes the message that you're only as old as you feel, but the children respond as will readers to the nostalgia of the moment. Utterly original." Booklist.

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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