Caldecott Medalist Jason Chin

Hello, Jason Chin! Congratulations on winning the 2022 Caldecott Medal and the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature for Watercress! I love learning about the CALL. What was running through your heart when the committees were clapping and cheering for you?

Jason Chin: This year, instead of calling early on Monday morning, they told me over the weekend. Late on Friday, I was asked if I could join my editor for a last-minute virtual presentation for a group attending the LibLearnX conference. I agreed and prepared to talk about my upcoming book, but when I got on the call it wasn’t just any group of librarians attending, it was the Caldecott committee. And instead of me presenting to them, the chair told me that I had won the medal.

It was such a huge surprise and I’m still processing it, a week later. All I could think of to say at the time was ‘thank you.’ But by the end of the call, I was able to get some thoughts together and I tried to express not just my gratitude to them, but how much I owe to the many people who have helped me throughout my life and who played a role in my success.

What does receiving the Caldecott Medal and the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature for Watercress mean to you?

Jason Chin: The Caldecott Medal is something that I’ve been aware of—and have held in great esteem—for some thirty-five years. In 1987 Trina Schart Hyman came and presented at my school. Everyone was buzzing about how she had won this award called the Caldecott. All the kids wanted her books and there was a long line to check them out. I liked to draw and here was this award for art! I thought ‘maybe I could be an artist someday’ and of course I imagined winning the gold medal. Now, I can call myself a Caldecott Medalist and that is mind-blowing. It’s humbling because I admire so much the work of other artists who have won the award. Finally, it’s a huge affirmation of Watercress, and it makes me feel like I’ve helped make something important.

To be recognized by APALA touches me deeply. One thing that Andrea and I hope that the book will do is humanize immigrants and their experience. This award is validation that we may have succeeded and that the book will help kids in the AAPI community and other underserved communities feel seen, and help other readers gain insight into their experience. That is really meaningful.

Please finish the following sentence starters:

The school library is one of my favorite places to visit in schools, because they are full of choice, freedom, and joy. When students visit the library, they are given the freedom to choose the book that is right for them. There are no requirements, there are no tests, there is just a librarian who is there to help them find the books that will bring them joy.

Picture books are my favorite art form. When pictures and words come together and capture my imagination, the effect is magical. There are so many different ways to make a picture book, so many different forms the book can take, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of making them.

Congratulations, Jason!

Jason Chin is a celebrated author and illustrator of children’s books. He received the Caldecott Medal for his illustrations in Andrea Wang’s Watercress, a Newbery Honor book and APALA award winner. His book Grand Canyon was awarded a Caldecott Honor, a Sibert Honor, and the NCTE Orbis Pictus Award. His other acclaimed nonfiction titles—Coral Reefs, Redwoods, Gravity, and Island: A Story of the Galapagos—have received numerous starred reviews and other accolades. He is also the illustrator of Stephanie Parsley Ledyard’s debut title Pie Is for Sharing and Miranda Paul’s Water is Water and Nine Months: Before a Baby is Born, the latter a Boston Horn Globe Honor Book. He lives in Vermont with his wife and children.

Borrow Watercress from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.


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