I knew when I chose to attend Simmons University that there would be a plethora of opportunities available to me as a student in a top-notch children’s lit program that just happens to be located in Boston (a literary hub if I do say so myself).
Because the Horn Book offices are located on Simmons’ campus, the university serves as a host for the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, which celebrate excellence in children’s literature, are awarded in the summer and celebrated in the fall. I was overjoyed to have the chance to attend the ceremony and get to see first hand as award-winning authors and illustrators speak about their work. And of course, the book signing and reception afterwards were just the icing on the cake.
My one regret is that I didn’t take many pictures, but I was just so enthralled by the ceremony (and also didn’t have good photo angles)
The Picture Books
The first category in which awards were presented was for picture books. Listening to Yuyi Morales discuss her picture book Dreamers, which received an honor award was one of the highlights of the evening for me. She spoke about the immigrant experience and the importance of public libraries and how her art and her life are intertwined. I’ve been a fan of this book since K-State’s Mock Caldecott this past winter, and was so excited to see it honored.
The other picture book honor award went to We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga written by Traci Sorell and illustrated by Frané Lessac and the winning picture book was The Patchwork Bike by Maxine Beneba Clarke and illustrated by Van Thanh Rudd. The creators of these books weren’t there to accept in person, but editor Karen Boss accepted for We Are Grateful: Ostaliheliga and shared the wise works of the author and illustrator. Meanwhile, Clarke and Rudd accepted with video messages.
Fiction was quite possible the category I was most excited for with Adib Khorram accepting his honor award for Darius the Great is Not Okay. I was so excited for this book because I sat on the K-State Book Network Selection Committee last year and worked alongside faculty, staff, and other students to select Darius the Great is Not Okay as K-State’s 2019 common read but wasn’t around at K-State this fall to see Khorram visit campus.
Angie Thomas also received an honor award for her second novel, On the Come Up, which chronicles the life of Bri, a girl who wants to be a rapper like her dad. While Thomas wasn’t there to accept in person, her statement was well received by all, including the line, “This confirms my suspicions: The Boston Globe-Horn Book Award is dope”
The winner of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for fiction was Kekla Magoon’s novel The Season of Styx Malone. Magoon gave a compelling speech about the ideas for her story and how ordinary moments can lead to an extraordinary experience. It was so inspiring to hear her words and I can’t wait to read her novel.
I was thrilled that Jarret J. Krosoczka’s graphic memoir Hey Kiddo received a non-fiction honor. I read and enjoyed this book this summer and made the choice to buy it for the library at Camp Kawanhee so that Krosoczka’s story could reach the kids I worked with. While Krosoczka wasn’t there to accept the award himself, his wife and daughter were and gave some of the greatest remarks of the night. His wife talked about how she came on a date with him to the Boston Globe-Horn Book awards thirteen years ago, so it was surreal to see him winning an award, and his daughter’s speech for him was just so incredibly cute.
The other honor book went to Nine Months a picture book about fetal development and birth that was written by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Jason Chin. Both Paul and Chin made excellent remarks about their book.
However, easily the most powerful speech of the night came from Nonfiction Winners Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy who discussed their book The Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality. Boyce was one of the Clinton 12, who desegregated the high school in Clinton, Tennessee in 1956. However, the Clinton 12 are often overlooked in conversations on school desegregation. Boyce discussed her experiences and it was incredible to hear her tell Levy, and the audience about them and what winning this award means.
After the awards, Simmons hosted a fantastic reception. Books were for sale from The Children’s Bookshop in Brookline (which I now can’t wait to visit in person). However, as a broke college student I had to make a choice about which texts and pick up and which to leave on the table.
I ended up purchasing Dreamers, Darius the Great is Not Okay (the copy I already owned was still in Colorado), and The Season of Styx Malone. Unfortunately my choice was made a little easier because there were no copies of The Promise of Change left when I made it through the line.
It was incredibly amazing to briefly discuss the author’s work with them while getting my new books signed. Yuyi Morales told me that when she first came to the United States she had come to Kansas. I told Kekla Magoon how I hoped that The Seasons of Styx Malone would be something I could bring to the library at Camp Kawanhee this upcoming summer.
My best conversation by far was Adib Khorram. I told him about helping select his book as the KSBN common read for 2019 and how jealous I was when my friends in K-State’s grad program shared pictures from his talk on social media. He told me his whole experience at K-State was awesome (which made me incredibly happy). I also told him about buying his book for Camp Kawanhee this summer and about the campers I saw pick it up and read it. It was so much fun to be able to share this with the author of such an incredible book. I also can’t wait for the sequel (coming 2020!).
After getting my books signed, I had a great time making conversation with other members of Simmons children’s literature programs and having the chance to get to know some of my peers better.
I was able to have this incredible experience within my first semester of grad school, and I can’t wait for all the amazing experiences to come. I’m already looking forward to attending the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards in 2020. Hopefully next time I’ll take a few more pictures