100 Scope Notes
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The Randolph Caldecott Medal Should Be Renamed The Jerry Pinkney Medal

I have gathered you here today to lay out the case for why the Randolph Caldecott Medal, awarded to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children, should be renamed the Jerry Pinkney Medal.

Reason #1: Shouldn’t an American illustration award be named after an American?

I mean no disrespect to Randolph Caldecott. His contributions to children’s literature and specifically to the picture book form are immense. But if Randolph Caldecott were alive today, dude couldn’t even win his own award – only American citizens and residents are eligible, and Caldecott was a Brit. Renaming the award the Pinkney is more in line with the criteria for the award itself.

Reason #2: Jerry Pinkney has earned Caldecott recognition more than almost anyone else.

As you can see here, Pinkney has the most Caldecott Honor wins ever (tied with Maurice Sendak) and is second to Marcia Brown (again, tied with Sendak) for the most overall Caldecott recognition. Doesn’t it make sense to rename the award after someone who has displayed such greatness? You know what they renamed the NBA Finals MVP trophy? The Bill Russell. Because Russell won more NBA Finals than anyone else.

Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments.

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 scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. So totally agree!

  2. Stacy Dillon says

    I’m here for this.

  3. Deborah Kovacs says

    Agree 100%

  4. Colby Sharp says

    100% yes.

  5. I think if we have to do a person he’s a good choice, but why name these award after a person at all?

  6. Barbara Klipper says

    What a wonderful idea!

  7. Beth Saxton says

    If we are going to name awards after people this is an excellent choice, but I am pretty strongly in the “call it what it’s for” camp.

  8. So why Jerry Pinkney (who I adore)? You made a case against Caldecott, but not for Mr. Pinkney.

  9. Linda Klein says

    John Newbery was British too. Just sayin’…

  10. Esther Frazee says


  11. Samantha Nicholson says

    I definitely agree!

  12. ??????

  13. Yes, Travis!!! Let’s make it happen. If not renaming the Caldecott, then creating a new award!

  14. Michelle Y says

    How about naming a lifetime achievement children’s book illustrator award after him instead? I think the Children’s Literature Legacy Award is more about the text, so it would be nice to have a corresponding award for lifetime achievement in illustration.

  15. Yes! He also got robbed for his Noah’s Ark.

  16. Kathleen Hartzler says

    The award should certainly be named for Jerry Pinkney!

  17. Margaret Brown says

    Yes, I support Pinckney Award for illustration.

  18. If the number of medals and honors is the determiner, then why not name it after Marcia Brown, who has 3 medals and 6 honors? A multiple-award winners list can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caldecott_Medal#Multiple_award_winners

    • Angie Moore says

      thanks for sharing this! I’ve been trying to go through the pages of Award and Honorees for my Mock Caldecott Unit, and this is much easier! :D

  19. Katie Leeder says

    100% yes! Your case is very clear.

  20. Jessi Peterson says

    I agree wholeheartedly that Jerry Pinckney is deserving of honors galore, but I also am ready to lean into the “this is an award for ____ of awesomeness” which makes it about the work rather than the person.

  21. Robert Zupperoli says

    I think this is a great idea.

  22. Michele Telerski-Rees says

    I am a huge fan of Jerry Pickney’s work but would also prefer a new award for lifetime achievement in illustration.

  23. Yes, or Marcia Brown, also American.

  24. Robin Hoffman says

    This is brilliant idea and a more than appropriate recognition for his lifetime picture book achievement.

  25. Andrea Wright-Banks says

    Absolutely..He is an American Treasure!!

  26. Angie Moore says

    Oh, that would be amazing! Totally agree!

  27. Myra Zarnowski says

    I would love to see Jerry Pinkney receive a lifetime achievement award. His work has enriched the lives of so many many readers. It might also rekindle author and illustrator studies in schools. We could look at an illustrator’s work over time.

  28. Agree agree agree!

  29. Cindy Martin says

    I totally agree! As a librarian, it was difficult for the children to understand why the award was names after Caldecott. I explained that Caldecott’s illustrations showed motion and that had never been done before. Say What?! Kids can not relate because of their steady diet of today’s computerized digital effects and all the other magnificent things that are prevalent today.

  30. Nicci Urti says

    I disagree. I don’t see the need to change the award name. Regardless of Caldecott’s background as an Englishman, his impact on history withstands the test of time. Maurice Sendak himself said, “Caldecott’s work heralds the beginning of the modern picture book.” The medal itself is so symbolic. We don’t need a new name. We need to make sure history is remembered. Create a new medal with a creative meaningful design and give it new symbolism and a new name, letting the Caldecott remain as it is.

    • MARY HOFMAN says

      I agree with Nicci. I love Jerry Pinkney’s illustrations. But renaming the historic medal for someone who has received Caldecott honors many times? This seems unnecessary. Pinkney has been well honored, and may yet earn honors posthumously. Changing the long held and well-known name possibly diminishes past Caldecott winners, and sets a dangerous precedent that the medal can be renamed again for the next generation’s most favored illustrator. A new life-time achievement award may be appropriate, but continue with the Caldecott medal as we have known it.

  31. Yes!!! So fitting.

  32. Angela Ferraris says

    I don’t agree at all. I think honoring Randolph Caldecott should be kept. Why not just have an additional Jerry Pinkney Medal instead of destroying another person’s medal?

  33. It has been called the caldecott for so long that it is a tradition. Also, no award is renamed after the person that got it the most. With that being said, I do see your point about the award being named after an american.

  34. Debbie Zlotowitz says

    I totally support the renaming of the award in honor of and in many of Jerry Pinkney. He was a great artist and a great person. Love the idea.

  35. Agree 100%