An Unexpected Phone Call

PB morning

So I was sitting in my living room this morning, reading some book about Lateral Thinking and sipping my coffee, when my phone rang. The screen on my iPhone told me the call was coming from Seattle, and I remembered that I have dinner plans later this week with Seattle friends who’ll be in town. But then I realized that, in Seattle, it was 6:30am, which would have been a really weird time for my friends to call me. I was confused.

I answered the phone and instantly heard the unmistakable din of a room full of giddy librarians. A voice said, “Peter, this is the Caldecott committee calling you from Seattle, and we’re thrilled to tell you that Creepy Carrots! has won a 2013 Caldecott Honor!” And then I heard the committee burst into giggles. My girlfriend, Gwen, was sitting beside me at the time, close enough to hear the whole conversation, and she gave me a celebratory punch right in my shoulder when she overheard the news. She’s got a mean jab. My shoulder still hurts. Anyway, I responded to the committee with something like, “Get OUTTA here! No way!!! This wasn’t even on my radar!” To which the committee replied, “Well Creepy Carrots! has been on OUR radar for quite some time now, and we’re so happy to give you this news!” Then they told me to keep my trap shut until they made the official announcement later in the day and I just kind of awkwardly stammered and said, “Ok, thanks, thanks so much! Um, bye! Ok? Ok, bye! THANKS!” And then I waited for them to hang up.


For anyone who doesn’t know, the Caldecott Medal and Caldecott Honors are awards given out annually by the American Library Association, to the most distinguished picture books for children published in the U.S.A. Since the U.S. has the biggest publishing industry, and the biggest library association, that makes the Caldecotts the biggest awards in picture books. Remember how some of your favorite kids books from childhood had those shiny silver or gold stickers on the front?

When I got off the phone my girlfriend and I hugged and danced and maybe even cried a teensy bit. Then I called my mom, who works in a small public library in New Jersey. She’d be proud of me just for putting on clean undies in the morning, so hearing that her son won a freakin’ Caldecott rendered her just about speechless. I called my agent, Paul Rodeen, who has a voice like an air horn, and his head almost exploded with the news. I called my assistant, Ellen, who calmly said something like, “Don’t plan on getting anything done today.” I spoke with Aaron Reynolds, the amazing author of Creepy Carrots!, and we basked in the glow for a moment or two. And of course I spoke to Justin Chanda and Lizzy Bromley at Simon & Schuster who have given Creepy Carrots so much love.

I’d just like to give a HUGE thanks to Aaron Reynolds for writing such a wonderfully weird story that I could really sink my teeth into. Creepy Carrots! was a joy to make, and it wouldn’t have happened without his warped sense of humor and impeccable writing skills. And a huge thanks to Paul Rodeen for managing my book deals and career with such gumption. And a huge thanks to my friends at Simon & Schuster who’ve been so good to me and to the books I’ve made with them. Oh, and of course I have to thank the ALA, ALSC and the Caldecott Committee for liking my work!

The Caldecott winners were finally announced publicly and then my email inbox began to fill up, and my facebook and twitter pages went ballistic. This year was a pretty amazing year for picture books, and as I said to the Caldecott committee when they called me, winning a Caldecott never even crossed my mind. It’s such an honor to join David Small and Jon Klassen and Laura Vaccaro Seeger and Pamela Zagarenski as this year’s winners of the Caldecott Honors and Medal.

Thanks everyone. It’s been a fantastic day.


Categories: Awards, Illustration
Tags: , ,

19 responses to “An Unexpected Phone Call”

  1. Martha says:

    I’m calling you at 6:30 tomorrow.

  2. Jenny says:

    Awesome news! Congratulations!

  3. So awesome, love love Creepy Carrots!! Well done!!

  4. Kirsten Cappy says:

    On behalf carrot tops and our namesakes you so valiantly depicted, I screamed my head off a the announcement.

  5. Allison says:

    Congratulations! Our family is thrilled for you. We are big fans of The Curious Garden and now look forward to reading Creepy Carrots.

  6. Lori Mozdzierz says:

    So well deserved! Congrats, Peter!!

  7. this is wonderful! What an exciting moment for you!

  8. Lisa Demers says:

    Congratulations! We, daughter Alice and I, love all your work and were thrilled to read the news today.

  9. Robin Smith says:

    Just got home from ALA and was thrilled to see your reaction to The Call copied onto my FB feed by about a million friends. I love a “The Call” Story better than just about anything. Congrats to you and, Gwen, have fun keeping his feet on the ground. Can’t wait to tell Julie.

  10. Mr. Brown, this is a very well-deserved honor. We’ve been following your books for years, and frankly, you’re our favorite children’s book illustrator! What’s up with Liam?

  11. Anne Bozievich says:

    All of us at Friendship, Southern, and Shrewsbury Elementary Schools are so proud of you! Our students STILL talk about your visit 4 years ago, and your books are in constant circulation. Congratulations, and we’re wishing you all the best from Southern York County!

  12. Creepy Carrots! Amazing artwork and wonderful words – HUGE congratulations on a very well deserved award.

  13. Jenn Bower says:

    Way to go, Peter!!!! I was so excited for you when I heard the news. LOVE ‘Creepy Carrots’ and your work. Great style, great humor. You are the torch bearer for those of us still pushing through to find our own unique voice…be it ever so laughable and weird.
    Can’t wait to see what 2013 holds for you.

  14. Melanie Koss says:

    As one of the gigglers on the other end of the phone line, I think we were just as excited! (And I must admit there were tears on our end as well.) Congratulations again!!

  15. Elizabeth says:


    I don’t get to read many picture books anymore now that I am a middle and high school librarian. I do miss them. However, I did read your book and bought a signed copy to give to my god child. I thought it was fabulous, and I am so happy the Caldecott committee recognized your work.

  16. Julie says:

    That video is hilarious. One million dollars! As if?!?!? LOVE IT!

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