Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat

I hope you enjoyed reading about the life-changing phone calls Kwame AlexanderJacqueline Woodson and Cece Bell received on February 2. This behind-the-scenes information makes my booktalks and presentations more interesting and unique.  

I thought it would be fun to check in with this year's Caldecott winners. I cannot guarantee  every illustrator will agree to an interview, but I hope to hear a YES from most of them.

Today's special guest is Dan Santat, the recipient of the 2015 Caldecott Medal for The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend

Everyone loves hearing about THE CALL. What ran through your head when the phone rang? What were you thinking about when the Caldecott committee was clapping? 

Dan Santat: I was completely taken off guard. When the phone rang I knew it was a “good call” because no one calls at 4:30 AM without a good reason. Before I answered I was prepared to hear them tell me that I had, at best, won a Caldecott Honor. I never thought of myself as one of those guys who won awards. For years, I’ve always worked like a dog to try to achieve some sort of relevance in the publishing world but as hard as I worked I never felt like any of my books were ever viewed as anything special beyond offering the reader a good laugh. When they had told me I won the actual medal I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I just fell to my knees and started crying. It’s winning the lottery when you didn’t think your numbers were any good. It’s like that scene in Saving Private Ryan when Tom Hanks looks at Matt Damon’s character and says, “Earn this." 

What does the Caldecott mean to you?

Dan Santat: To win one of the most distinguished of all literary awards and think about all the medalists who preceded me makes me feel extremely humbled and honored. Prior to this I was dubbed, “the hardest working man in publishing” and I always felt I was going to be nothing more than that. To me, the award gives me validity in my feelings that hard work can pay off. It helps lessen the self doubt.

Please finish this sentence starter:

Reading is imperative.

Congratulations, Dan! I'm looking forward to your Caldecott acceptance speech. 

Borrow The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.


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