Years ago, when Todd Elementary’s librarian Tara Phethean was working as an assistant to legendary children’s book publisher and editor Dick Jackson, she would often mail copies of picture books to members of the Caldecott Award Committee, in hopes that they select one of those books. Little did she know that years later, she would end up being one of those members herself.
Mrs. Phethean was recently elected as one of sixteen members of the 2024 Caldecott Committee and will serve a two-year term, beginning July 1st. The 2024 Caldecott Committee is charged with evaluating books published in the United States in calendar year 2023.
The coveted Caldecott Medal is named for 19th century British artist and illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded each year to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children, by the Association of Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association. Past winners have included the illustrators for “The Polar Express,” “Frog and Toad Are Friends,” “Where the Wild Things Are” and “The Snowy Day.”
It comes as no surprise that our very own school librarian will take part in the committee, as Mrs. Phethean has an extensive background in book evaluation, starting with her 17 years in book publishing and through her 20 years in school librarianship.
“My first job out of college was with the publisher of Judy Blume, Gary Paulsen, and many more award-winning authors,” Mrs. Phethean said. “At Todd I have hosted many talented authors and illustrators, including Jason Chin, who recently won the 2022 Caldecott Award. So, I’ve come full circle! It is my honor to serve on the committee, to foster excellence and to highlight creativity at its best.”