The medal is named after Randolph Caldecott, an influential children's illustrators working in England in the 19th century. His illustrations for children were unique to their time in both their humor, and their ability to create a sense of movement, vitality, and action that complemented the stories they accompanied.
Both the Newbery and Caldecott Medal committees have a difficult time choosing one book as a winner. Committee members began to recognize additional books as worthy of attention. These "runners-ups" are now referred to as "honor books."