My Favourite Lesser-Known Caldecott Winners

Following up with my finalized Caldecott Medal reviews, here is a short list of my favourites among them that are not so well known. (ie. Where the Wild Things Are and the like aren’t listed because everyone knows them!)

Listed by age:


Kitten’s First Full Moon – Kevin Henkes

Little Kitten sees her very first full moon in the sky and thinks it’s a bowl of milk. After many unsuccessful attempts to reach it, tired, wet and hungry, Kitten returns to her porch to find a bowl of milk waiting for her. Lucky Kitten!

                 2 year olds

The Little House – Virginia Lee Burton

A happy little country house is slowly engulfed by the expanding city limits and she does not like it one bit. After many years she is moved back to the countryside, and lived in and cared for again.

Drummer Hoff – Barbara Emberley; Ed Emberley, ill.

A brief, repetitive poem in which various military personnel bring and assemble a cannon, though the most lowly, Drummer Hoff, gets to “fire it off”. When he does so the final page shows that the gun blew itself up, and now birds and bugs make their home in it, as the grass and flowers grow over top.

The Hello, Goodbye Window – Norton Juster; Chris Raschka, ill.

A child’s retelling of what happens when she stays with her grandparents while her parents are at work. She talks lovingly about her Nanna and Poppy, their house, their activities, their jokes and games.

                    3 year olds

Mei Li – Thomas Handforth

A day in the life of a small Chinese girl who tags along with her big brother to the New Year’s Fair in the big city and attempts at every turn to prove that she is brave and useful.

Many Moons – James Thurber; Louis Slobodkin, ill.

The princess is ill and claims she will only get well again if someone can give her the moon. The king and his wise men ponder the problem to no avail. Only the jester knows how to solve the problem: by consulting with the princess herself, who turns out to have all the answers.

Tuesday – David Wiesner

One Tuesday evening, at precisely 7:58 pm a group of bullfrogs suddenly find themselves able to fly, and proceed to have a grand old time. When the sun rises their flight ends and, extremely disgruntled, they must hop home again.

          4 year olds

The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship – Arthur Ransome; Uri Shulevitz, ill.

A foolish youngest son sets out to win the hand of a princess. Through his kindness he makes a few very useful friends, builds a flying ship, and successfully fulfills the Tsar’s impossible tasks to win his bride.

Arrow to the Sun – Gerald McDermott

A boy raised by a single mother sets out in search of his father, who turns out to be the lord of the sun. A wise man turns the boy into an arrow and shoots him to the sun. After several trials the boy is accepted by his father and given great powers.

Ox-Cart Man – Donald Hall; Barbara Cooney, ill.

The story of a family in the pioneer past who work all year in order to sell their wares in the Portsmouth market.

          5 year olds

Abraham Lincoln – Ingri & Edgar Parin d’Aulaire

A very approachable biography of Abraham Lincoln, focussing on his childhood and youth. The details of pioneer life, farm work, and hard times are simply stated and fascinating.

Sam, Bangs & Moonshine – Evaline Ness

A little girl’s wild imagination and tendency to tell tall tales cause a little friend to be caught out in a wild storm. Her father and talking cat urge her to learn the difference between the truth and ‘moonshine’.

The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel with Louis Bleriot – Alice & Martin Provensen

The true story of Louis Blériot (1872-1936), who invented and built flying machines in the early days of aviation, and was the first man to fly across the English Channel.

Snowflake Bentley – Jacqueline Briggs Martin; Mary Azarian, ill.

A biography of W. A. Bentley, born in 1865, who invented a way to take photographs of snowflakes. Considered an eccentric for much of his life, Bentley’s photographs eventually came into great demand and his book Snow Crystals is still considered a seminal work on the subject.

6 years and older

Fables – Arnold Lobel

A series of original fables, written in the style of the old Aesop stories, each only one page long and followed by a simple moral. Updated tales are accessible, touching, and brilliantly illustrated.


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