ALA Announces 2003 Newbery and Caldecott Medals

Posted on January 29, 2003

Avi, author of Crispin: The Cross of Lead, and Eric Rohmann, illustrator and author of My Friend Rabbit, are the 2003 winners of the John Newbery and Randolph Caldecott medals. They were among the award winners announced during the 2003 American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia. Considered the �Academy Awards� of children�s book publishing, the Newbery and Caldecott Medals honor outstanding writing and illustration of works published in the United States during the previous year.

Crispin: The Cross of Lead, published by Hyperion Books for Children, is an adventure set in 14th-century England. �Asta�s son� is the only name the 13-year-old title character has ever known when he is suddenly orphaned and stripped of home and possessions. Accused of murder and wanted dead or alive, Crispin flees his village and falls in with a juggler, Bear, who becomes his protector and teacher. Relentlessly pursued by Crispin�s enemies, the pair flees to solve the mystery of his identity and fight the injustices of feudalism.

�Avi masterfully creates a plot that sustains tension and suspense from beginning to end, while seamlessly weaving in details of daily medieval life,� said Starr LaTronica, chair of the 2003 Newbery Award committee. �Readers experience Crispin�s surroundings through Avi�s sensory descriptions; they see, hear, smell, taste and feel his world. In the hands of a superb craftsman, Crispin is a fascinating coming-of-age novel that brings to readers a riveting adventure and invites them to consider how life hundreds of years ago echoes our contemporary search for freedom.�

The 2003 Caldecott Medal for illustration was awarded to Eric Rohmann for My Friend Rabbit, published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of The Millbrook Press. In the book, Mouse shares his brand-new toy airplane with his friend Rabbit, and no one can predict the disastrous�but hilarious�results. When the airplane lands in a tree, the chaos only builds as Rabbit drags, pushes and carries the whole neighborhood, including Elephant, Hippo, and Crocodile, to the rescue. It�s a lighthearted celebration of a friendship that will last �- even if whatever Rabbit does and wherever he goes, trouble follows.

�Eric Rohmann�s hand-colored relief prints express a vibrant energy through solid black outlines, lightly textured backgrounds and a robust use of color,� said Pat Scales, chair of the 2003 Caldecott Award committee. �The black frame cannot contain Rabbit�s enthusiasm in this dramatic visual romp, as the characters tumble and spill from the page and back on again. The artist shows his respect for his audience and keen understanding of picture book design. Whatever they do and wherever they go, children will claim Rabbit as their friend.�

Five Newbery Honor Books were named: The House of the Scorpion, by Nancy Farmer, a Richard Jackson Book/Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children�s Publishing Division; Pictures of Hollis Woods, by Patricia Reilly Giff and published by Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House Children�s Books, a division of Random House, Inc.; Hoot, by Carl Hiaasen and published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children�s Books, a division of Random House, Inc.; A Corner of the Universe, by Ann M. Martin and published by Scholastic Press, a division of Scholastic, Inc.; and Surviving the Applewhites, by Stephanie S. Tolan and published by HarperCollins Children�s Books, a division of HarperCollins.

Three Caldecott Honor Books were named: The Spider and the Fly, illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi, written by Mary Howitt and published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; Hondo & Fabian, illustrated and written by Peter McCarty and published by Henry Holt & Company LLC; and Noah�s Ark, illustrated and written by Jerry Pinkney and published by SeaStar Books, a division of North-South Books Inc.

More from Writers Write

  • New York Publishers Not Rushing Workers Back to the Office Despite City Reopening

  • James Bennet Resigns as New York Times Editorial Page Editor

  • Melania Trump Reads The Little Rabbit by Nicola Killen for Easter

  • Katy Perry Wins Dark Horse Copyright Case After Federal Judge Overturns Jury Decision

  • London Book Fair Canceled Over Coronavirus