So here is the Caldecott winner for this year. It is a picture book biography of an urban artist, Jean Michel Basquiat. Basquiat was born and raised in Brooklyn. As a child he loved to draw wild energetic artwork inspired by what he saw around him in the inner city. When he got older he became a graffiti artist and finally a recognized modern artist. He died at age 27 of a drug overdose.
So this is a lovely role model to set up for children. A runaway, a criminal and a druggy whose claim to fame was that he was recognized by the art establishment and now his painting are sold posthumously for thousands of dollars. That is just what I want my child or grandchild to do.
That said, I do respect the illustrations in the book. I actually like Steptoe's art inspired by Basquiat more than I like Basquiat's art. Steptoe understands color and texture and how to get maximum impact out of both. I am surprised this won a Caldecott medal, however, because the book is about an artist but contains absolutely none of his art. Basquiat's art is not incorporated in the illustrations in any way. So we are honoring one artist who is honoring another, but doesn't include any of the original artist's work. That doesn't really make sense to me. I guess it did to the Caldecott Committee.