Horn Book at Simmons

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Saturday was one of those memorable days…I attended the Horn Book at Simmons Conference, and because the speakers were all recipients of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, the list of speakers was an embarrassment of riches: Rebecca Stead, Helen Oxenbury, John Burningham, Elizabeth Partridge, Peter Sis, and Megan Whalen Turner among others.  At one point, I was talking with English author and illustrator John Burningham, and I felt that it was one of life’s perfect moments.  

Burningham’s new book, It’s a Secret! was one of the 2010 Honor Books.  If you haven’t seen it, check it out.  It’s a magical adventure about Marie-Elaine, a girl who wonders where Malcom, her cat, goes at night.  Marie-Elaine gets Malcom’s permission to join him, and they go to a magical party where she meets the Queen of Cats.  I’m a big fan of Burningham’s many picture books, especially Harvey Slumfenburger’s Christmas Present. That book has maybe the best “last page” in children’s literature. 

Rebecca Stead, winner of the 2010 Newbery Award for When You Reach Me, said something during her presentation that I felt in the pit of my stomach because I could remember feeling exactly the same way.  I quickly wrote down exactly how she said it:

 “As a child I had a secret relationship with books. I didn’t want to contemplate that other people were reading them.”

She went on to say that When You Reach Me was a way for her to talk about her relationship with books and reading.  It just made me love her book more than I already did.

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Three for Thursday

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The three books featured today were easy to choose because they are the winners of the 2010 Boston Globe- Horn Book Awards, honoring excellence in children’s literature.  The award is given in three categories: Fiction and Poetry, Nonfiction, and Picture Book.

The 2010 BG-HB winners are:

Fiction: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Non-Fiction: Marching For Freedom by Elizabeth Partridge

Picture Book: I Know Here by Laurel Croza

This is the statement released by The Horn Book:

“A seamlessly constructed tale of friendship and time travel set on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in the late 1970s, When You Reach Me , Rebecca Stead’s second novel for young people, has already found acclaim among children and critics alike and will receive the Newbery Medal later this month. Elizabeth Partridge, who won the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award for Nonfiction in 2002 for This Land Was Made for You and Me: The Life and Songs of Woody Guthrie (Viking), wins again for Marching for Freedom , a dramatic account—told in searingly immediate photos and compelling prose—of the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery in support of voting rights for African Americans. And in I Know Here , Canadian author Laurel Croza and illustrator Matt James sensitively explore and gloriously picture the feelings of a little girl contemplating her family’s move in the early 1960s from the wilds of northern Saskatchewan to the big city of Toronto.”

It Won! It Won!

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I just checked the date.  It was on August 4 that I e-mailed several of my favorite readers to suggest that they read When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.   And today it won the Newbery Medal!  I am very happy and not one bit surprised.  As I said to my friends way back in August, Stead’s book is hard to describe.  It’s a mystery.  It’s realistic.  It has an element of the fantastic—see what I mean?  Hard to pigeonhole.  But now no book seller has to decide where to shelve it.  It goes on the shelf for Newbery winners!