Author Spotlight

Author, Not Illustrator: My Perspective on the Caldecott Honor

Our guest blogger today is Liz Garton Scanlon,  author of All the World, a 2010 Caldecott Honor Book.


As a picture book author (but not illustrator), I’ve always viewed the Caldecott Awards at some remove, as if looking through a concave lens.

The Caldecott is specifically for illustrators, after all, and so while I’m wildly admiring of (and inspired by) the recognized artists, it’s never been something for me to focus on or fret over.

Plus, getting a taste of what’s happening in the land of reviews, awards and critiques is often just distracting. Like Google alerts and Amazon rankings, thinking about what goes on inside the Caldecott committee can serve to pull our attention from work to worry, and to feed the disease of comparison. I’ve always preferred blissful ignorance.

But then, one of my own books got a silver sticker on its cover.Yipes. Suddenly it was impossible to stay in my own blurry bubble.

When you are the author-but-not-the-illustrator of a Caldecott-honored picture book, you don’t get The Call (the famous, middle-of-the-night, top-secret bombshell that, in this case, went to the exquisitely talented Marla Frazee), but you don’t get left alone, either.

You get 13 zillion emails.

You get 10 zillion voicemails.

You get flowers from your mom and dad.

You get to buy a fancy dress.

You get invited to more schools and you get to talk with more kids.

You get to sign more books.

You get handmade cards from your kids and your friends’ kids.

You get to drink champagne.

You get to go to D.C. (or Dallas, or New Orleans, or L.A.)

2010 Caldecott committee


You get to have lunch with the Caldecott committee and find out all sorts of cool and amazing things, like that some committee members have to put their furniture in storage as whole rooms fill up with books.



And, yep, you get to sign even more books.

I’d be lying by omission if I didn’t say it is an all-around lovely thing to have happen — to a writer and a book. In huge part because it means the book will not be going out of print in the next 20 minutes, and it will, by consequence, be read aloud in a lot more rocking chairs and in a lot more story-circles than it would’ve otherwise.

But it is also true that I found that tiny bit of author’s remove to be a comfort during this crazy time. I was allowed to celebrate the prize, and the incredible, jaw-dropping art that won the prize, without being the center of attention.

I was allowed to thank my lucky stars that the words in my head had come together on the page, that my editor decided to turn them into a book, and that I was paired with a brilliant illustrator who turned them into something so beautiful as to be transcendent.

I mean, honestly.

I have way more than my fair share of lucky stars.

And now here I am again, back at my desk, looking at sketches for my next few books, blissfully ignorant of everything beyond the fact that I get to write words for kids, hand them over, and be a part of something kind of magical. I know there’s other stuff going on out there, but I see it through a concave lens.


Liz Garton Scanlon,  author All the World, a 2010 Caldecott Honor Book, suggests you click here for a post on her blog about the year All the World came out and was awarded the Caldecott Honor — and her up-and-down life at the time. You can also look here for a post at Cynthia Leitich Smith’s Cynsations about the actual ALA gala weekend.

Liz’s most recent book is Noodle & Lou, illustrated by Arthur Howard. Her next book, Think Big, is illustrated by Vanessa Newton and will be out in June. She’s a frequent and popular presenter at schools, libraries & conferences. Liz can be contacted at

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at


  1. Lisa

    A perfect post on the eve of Thanksgiving. You have much to be thankful for, and so do the many children and adults who will enjoy your fabulous collaboration , All the World for years to come. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and have a lovely Thanksgiving.

    1. Liz Garton Scanlon

      Thank you, Lisa, for your comment and your kind, kind words — Liz

  2. Jeanette Larson

    Thanks for the insights. I really hadn’t thought a lot about what this honor meant to the author.

    1. Liz Garton Scanlon

      Me neither, Jeannette, til it happened!!

  3. Rod Espinosa

    Congratulations! It is an honor to be part of an award winning work. Without the words that inspire, the illustrations probably would never exist at all.

    1. Liz Garton Scanlon

      Oh, thank you, Rod, for the very nice comment.

  4. Joseph Ivan Long

    Congratulations, Ms. Scanlon! I really appreciate Ms. Frazee’s vivid, yet intimate illustrations. It is a beautiful companion to your lovely and poetic reminder of the tiny beauties all around.

    I’ve been reading and blogging about my experiences reading all the Caldecott books with my children, starting back in 1938. Looking forward to Think Big next summer! Have a lovely holiday season!

  5. Liz Garton Scanlon

    Thanks, Joseph… what a fantastic parenting endeavour!

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