cover image Caldecott Celebration

Caldecott Celebration

Leonard S. Marcus. Walker & Company, $18.95 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-8027-8656-2

Filled with witty anecdotes and pithy observations, Marcus's (Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom) approach to examining the works of six Caldecott Medalists will be of as much interest to adults as to picture book readers. He has chosen one book from each decade, ""so that viewed together, the six offer an informal cross section through time of the American picture book"": Robert McCloskey's Make Way for Ducklings, Marcia Brown's Cinderella; or, The Little Glass Slipper, Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, William Steig's Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Chris Van Allsburg's Jumanji and David Wiesner's Tuesday. With a generous sprinkling of the artists' own words and sometimes those of his or her editor, Marcus chronicles the inspiration behind these works, the creative process, the artists' reactions to winning the prestigious award and its effect on their careers. He fills the volume with the kinds of details children relish: McCloskey once shared his Greenwich Village digs with 16 ducks and Steig does black-and-white drawings first, then fills in each color one by one throughout the book. Encouraging readers to see each picture book through the artist's eyes, Marcus shows Brown's compositional studies, explains how Van Allsburg chose from which perspective to view the coiled python in the living room and how Sendak decided ""that the illustrations leading up to the rumpus would get larger and larger, as Max's emotions pushed out the words."" He traces the evolution of the illustrations for Tuesday from Wiesner's first quick sketches, when the idea occurred to him on a jet plane. With Marcus's sure hand guiding this tour, readers will find cause for celebration. All ages. (Oct.)