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The House in the Night: 2009 Caldecott Medal Winner

By Mary Smith

2427470417_f732d3d737_mEvery year since 1937, the Caldecott Medal has been awarded to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. Administered by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, the award was first presented in 1937 to English illustrator Randolph J. Caldecott for his numerous books of illustrated stories. Caldecott’s illustration of John Gilpin on a runaway horse, taken from the story The Diverting Story of John Gilpin, is depicted on the award. The Association for Library Service to Children aims to celebrate and honor the achievements of American children’s book illustrators through this award.

The 2009 Caldecott was awarded to The House in the Night, which was illustrated by Beth Krommes and written by Susan Marie Swanson. Swanson writes beautiful bedtime lyrics in the style of a traditional nursery-rhyme verse. Here’s a sample: “In that light rests a bed/On that bed waits a book/In that book flies a bird . . .” In cadence, it resembles verses from the 1955 Oxford Nursery Rhyme Book: “This is the key of the kingdom/In that kingdom is a city/In that city is a town/In that town there is a street . . .” The language will rock children to sleep, while the content inspires a sweet adventure in dreamland. Alongside the beautiful words, Krommes’s illustrations are reminiscent of etchings and suggest an older world, an imagined world, a dream space. The illustrations are subtle, radiant, and imaginative: objects seem to stare out at the viewer reminding us how a nighttime dream reflects the images of daylight. The House in the Night deserves the Caldecott Medal; it’s a lovely addition to any bedtime story collection.


The House in the Night
By Susan Marie Swanson and Beth Krommes
$17.00 Houghton Mifflin Books for Children

Mary Smith is a freelance writer who lives on the West Side of Providence. She spends her time working at a café, writing short stories, and rollerskating for the Providence Roller Derby.

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