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100 Scope Notes
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Lone Wolves: Caldecott Medal Winning Books Created Solo

I was working on my annual Caldecott predictions post (coming on the 19th) and I was reminded of something I’ve always wanted to look into – the number of Caldecott Medal winning books created by one person, rather than an author/illustrator team.

It felt to me like the like the trend has been toward the solo author illustrator (which I will heretofore call a Lone Wolf¹). Was I right?

Let’s slide down the fire pole into the data cave…

First up, the overall breakdown of Caldecott Medal winners created by a Lone Wolf (44) or by a separate author/illustrator (33)². This fell in line with my assumption going in. But I wanted to know if the Lone Wolf is becoming more prevalent, so I looked at recent winners vs. past winners. Here’s what I saw:

When we split things roughly in half – the early days (1938-1974) and the more recent days (1975-present) – we can see that the population of Lone Wolves has indeed grown.

What does this mean? I’m not quite sure. Perhaps the overall number of books created by one author/illustrator has risen, so more have won Caldecott. What do you think?

¹For example, take a look at the 2014 Caldecott books – all Lone Wolves.

²This got tricky at times, what with retellings of folktales and such. My rule of thumb is if one person adapted/retold the story and created the illustrations: Lone Wolf.

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. Interesting! I had been under the impression that the percentage of winners written and illustrated by the same author/illustrator was higher. The time breakdown explains part of my misperception. But, books written and illustrated by different people appear to have a fine shot at the medal.


  3. Eric Carpenter says:

    Wonder what these numbers would look like if we included medals and honors…

    • Travis Jonker says:

      Me too, Eric – I stuck with medal winners for the sake of time, but I would love to revisit this and include honors

  4. I feel like many of the teams are husband wife partners– or related in some way. No stats to prove this, just an observation. Maybe publishers should take note and let illustrators work more closely with the authors!