Thursday, December 27, 2007

When I won the Boston Globe/ Horn Book Award

Susan Kusel, over at her blog,, is going to host the January Carnival of Children's Literature and asked us to write about Children's Book Awards. I picked this to write about:

For authors, illustrators, editors and publishers:
If you've had the experience of winning an award,
what was it like?
What awards have your books won that have meant
the most to you?
What award would you most like to win?

The time I won the Boston Globe/ Horn Book Award was the most fun ever. Okay, I didn't WIN it -- my book, TO FLY, THE STORY OF THE WRIGHT BROTHERS, published by Clarion, was one of the Non-fiction Honor books in 2003.

It won other awards that year, too. (I have to say awards, because it didn't win any prizes -- prizes actually give you money.) Most of the other awards were just citations or inclusion in a list here and there. Some of them actually gave you a paper saying you had won. But the Boston Globe/ Horn Book Award (for the honor book) gives you an engraved plate. Nice.

Oh the excitement! What should I wear? Consulting with my online writer friends. Should I wear a glittering outfit like Linda Sue Park did when she accepted the Newbery award? (Heck, I wanted to BE Linda Sue Park.) But I couldn't find one. The award ceremony was early October, so shopping for glitter is futile in August. The stores only have it closer to Christmas.

I ended up finding a black dress in Talbots. I hesitated to wear it, but my writer friends insisted that nothing beats the power of the "little black dress." (Well, it was a long dress and I'm a largish person, so I wasn't sure how it qualified as a "little black dress." But anywho...)

Clarion booked rooms at the Parker House in Boston! Wow! The place where Parker House rolls were invented. (okay -- my husband didn't get the connection, either. I guess you have to like to cook to get excited about this.)

The whole evening is a blur. I was excited about finally meeting my book's illustrator. (Robert Andrew Parker) But he was ill and could not come. Which meant that I collected TWO engraved plates, but had to give one up later to Clarion's wonderful Marketing Manager, Marjorie Naughton.

Many people had nice things to say to me, but the best was from the school librarian on the award committee. (whose name escapes me right now) She asked me if I worked with children. When I admitted I have been a Children's Librarian for 35 years, she said, "I knew it!" She told me that she had read every book about the Wright Brothers this year and that most of the others seemed to be written from an adult's viewpoint -- assuming the reader already knew a lot about the subject. But that mine was the only one that both adults and children could read AND understand.

Wow! Now that was high praise, indeed. And probably the high point of the evening.

On the other hand, maybe the high point of the evening was when Roger Sutton, the editor of Horn Book Magazine, gave me the two engraved plates and I made my speech holding both of them. And then having dinner with him after the award ceremony.

The next morning, I squeezed in a tour of Boston before I had to run and catch my plane back home. Because it was pouring rain, I didn't get out of the bus to see the McCloskey ducks in the park. (remember Make Way for Ducklings?)

What award would I most like to win? The Caldecott medal -- if only it were given for Writing the Words in addition to being given to the illustrator for creating wonderful art. The Golden Kite award would be nice, too. It's an award from fellow writers.

-Wendie Old

BUSY FINGERS, Charlesbridge, 2003
(many awards)


laurasalas said...

Wendie, what a great story. Is your speech available anywhere online (in text or audio)? I know they podcast the whole awards ceremony now...

And it *is* just a terrific book!

Wendie O said...

No, the year I did it, they only put the winner's speeches online. Which is too bad because I'd love to actually hear all the nice things the person who introduced me said.

While it was going on, I was just in a happy-I-can't-believe-this-is-actually-happening daze, and I smiled a lot.

p.s. I just added links to the blog to places and people I talked about. -wo