The Randolph Caldecott Medal annually recognizes the preceding year's "most distinguished American picture book for children", beginning with 1937 publications. It is awarded to the illustrator by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA).The Caldecott and Newbery Medals are the most prestigious American children's book awards.The award is named for Randolph Caldecott, a nineteenth-century English illustrator. Rene Paul Chambellan designed the Medal in 1937. The obverse scene is derived from Randolph Caldecott's front cover illustration for The Diverting History of John Gilpin (Routledge, 1878, an edition of the 1782 poem by William Cowper), which depicts Gilpin astride a runaway horse.
The reverse is based on "Four and twenty blackbirds bak'd in a pie", one of Caldecott's illustrations for the nursery rhyme "Sing a Song of Sixpence".Beside the Caldecott Medal, the committee awards a variable number of citations to worthy runners-up, called the Caldecott Honors or Caldecott Honor Books. Recently there are two to four annual Honors. The Honor Books must be a subset of the runners-up on the final ballot, either the leading runners-up on that ballot or the leaders on one further ballot that excludes the winner.
The most distinguished American picture book for children.