|When news of the Caldecott Award for The Little Island first
arrived, life couldn't have been brighter or more exciting. but when I was told a speech
had to be prepared for it, life became gloomier and gloomier. Speeches terrify me; right
here and now I expect to disintegrate into a puddle of fear, wetness and bewilderment.
Pearl Primus, the dancer was once a guest of a school in Harlem. She came and danced her
message to the beat of drums and in a very exciting costume. A week later I was the guest
of the same school. The children couldn't have been more disappointed. There I was fully
clothed and hiding behind large sheets of drawing paper. But then I was able to draw what
I had to say.
Now, with mere words how can I properly tell you how grateful I am to children and to
librarians everywhere, and to thank you for the Medal? I remember as a child always being
told children should be seen and not heard. This advice now seems especially right for
illustrators, otherwise I'm sure to flounder in a sea of words and misery way above my
head. If I don't follow it, then I know I would have that awful feeling of suddenly
remembering all the things I could have said at this important time, and hate myself for
not having said them.
Although it seems to me especially as an illustrator, that through
the years all the things that should be said and felt about books and children, have been
said - sometimes with the impressiveness of thunder, and sometimes with the eloquence of