The Horn Book Awards at Simmons

I am always marveling at my good fortune. I live in a beautiful city, rich in history. I have a wonderful job that challenges me. I have supportive family and friends. I do not, however, appreciate enough the opportunities that Simmons provides to its student body (that includes me) every week. Between the lunchtime lectures, the LISSA conference sponsorship, and all such other offerings it is sheer neglect that I don't give a shout out now and again to Simmons and GSLIS itself.

Today, though, I'd like to offer up praise to my forsaken program, the department of Children's Literature. While I was only in the dual degree program for a day until I dropped it like a hot potato I do appreciate all the unique opportunities the Center for the Study of Children's Literature offers YA junkies like myself. Last night at The Horn Book awards I got to listen to nine of the best authors and illustrators in the world speak about what they are passionate about.

Robert Byrd, author and illustrator of Electric Ben; The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin,and winner of The Horn Book award in the non-fiction category, spoke about the power of illustration in picture books. He told us that images can inspire us and endure within our collective memory for decades, preserving the power of the physical book. Open This Little Book's author, Jesse Klausmeier, winner of the one of the picture book honor awards, revealed that a love of reading can inspire much more than just passionate readers, it can create a book. The first draft of her book was in fact written at the age of five.  She dedicated her book to America's inspiration to readers of my generation: LeVar Burton, host of Reading Rainbow. Finally, and most dramatically, the incomparable Rainbow Rowell, author of The Horn Book award for fiction, explained that Eleanor & Park was the most painful experience of her life. Writing this book forced her to confront some of the most painful parts of her past to the point where it actually made her sick. She made it through the wilderness somehow, and she swears she will never write a sequel (WINK*), but she inspired the room to address and attack the things that scare them the most. That is where our most valuable contributions to this world come from.

So thank you Cathy Mercier, The Horn Book, The Boston Globe, and the many people who worked so hard to make this event accessible to Simmons students. We are so lucky to be able to attend such events, we should be singing your praises on a much more regular basis. 

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