5 Caldecott Honors Books from the 1940’s Worth Looking Up

The Caldecott awards and honor books of the 1940’s include some stunners.

The 1940’s were a heading time in the US, with first World War II and then the post-war boom. Despite, or perhaps because, of the cultural upheavals, this was a wonderful time for children’s literature. Books have a different tenor than the earliest picture books. More whimsy and humor come into play. Stories focusing on wonder become popular. Morality isn’t the only point of children’s literature anymore.

Two of the 1940’s Caldecott Honor’s books have remained popular with kids: Blueberries for Sal  by Robert McCloskey and Madeline 
Ludwig Bemelmans.  Here are 5 more Caldecott Honor’s books from the 1940’s that really stand the test of time.


1. Marshmallow by Clare Turlay Newberry

Caldecott Honors 1943

This charming book about the unlikely friendship between a rabbit and a cat is paired with lovely drawings of both creatures. The drawings alone are worth checking out, particularly for the feline-philic amongst us.


2. Stone Soup by Marcia Brown

Caldecott Honors 1948

Stone soup might be familiar to you, but you might have missed this 1948 one. It is the traditional French tale told in lovely, stylized illustrations. Marcia Brown’s work was honored repeated through the 1940’s so this is a great way to start checking out her work.

3. The Boats on the River by Marjorie FlackJay Hyde Barnum (Illustrator)

Caldecott Honors 1947

This book really holds up. It deals with the water cycle in a subtle way. The illustrations will really float your boat if you are into mid-century modern.

4. Rain Drop Splash by Alvin TresseltLeonard Weisgard (Illustrations)

Caldecott Honors 1947

The onomatopeic text is wonderful to read aloud. The muted graphic illustrations are fun to explore as well.

5. In the Forest by Marie Hall Ets

Caldecott Honors 1945

This humorous tale about the adventures of a young boy is matched with charming illustrations with attractive details.

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