Illustrator David Macaulay, whose dazzling books on the structure of cathedrals, pyramids and cities and on "The Way Things Work" have absorbed readers of all ages, yesterday won the Randolph Caldecott Medal for 1990's most distinguished American picture book for children, for "Black and White" (Houghton Mifflin).
The inventive Macaulay, critic Michael Dirda wrote in his Washington Post review of the book, "fractures ordinary narrative by juxtaposing four stories" on each set of facing pages, then gradually intertwines them, creating "an entertaining and endlessly tantalizing picture book, one that plays with time, image and narrative, undercutting them all, twisting them into a pretzel."
The nation's other top children's book honor, the John Newbery Medal, went to Pennsylvanian Jerry Spinelli for "Maniac Magee" (Little, Brown) -- a "funny, spirited story," according to the Christian Science Monitor, about a runaway boy and his miraculous encounters with other children in a small town torn by racial and social divisions.
Also announced at the American Library Association's midwinter meeting in Chicago were this year's Coretta Scott King Awards for outstanding books by African American authors and illustrators.
The 1991 honors went to Mildred T. Taylor for "The Road to Memphis" (Dial), a family saga set in the Deep South before World War II, and to Leo and Diane Dillon for their paintings in "Aida" (Gulliver/HBJ), a story version of the Verdi opera told by Leontyne Price. Taylor has won the King Award twice before and the Newbery once. The Dillons, husband-wife collaborators, have won the Caldecott twice.
A new award, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for excellence in children's videos, went to George McQuilkin and John Matthews, producers of "Ralph S. Mouse," based on the book by Beverly Cleary. -- Charles Trueheart