The Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards were bestowed last night at the Boston Athenaeum (see link to the right for a list of the winners). It is the 39th year of the award (an arithmetical fact I could only work out by writing out the years since inception: 1967, 1968,1969, etc.; what is the formula for that?) and my tenth year as m.c. I’ve never been a judge for BGHB, but I’ve always thought that this award frequently goes to unexpected but good choices, probably because a three-person jury can more nimble (and quirky) than one with fifteen (like the Caldecott and Newbery). The fact that each award committee is surveying books published from the fall of one year through the spring of the next means a different pool of possibilities from that of the calendar-year awards, practically guaranteeing different choices from the Newbery and Caldecott. (There have been a few trifectas, with the same book winning Newbery, National Book Award, and the BGHB award, most recent example being Holes.) Another difference is the inclusion of books originally published in another country and/or language, and dividing the award among fiction and poetry, nonfiction, and picture book categories means a fairer shake for each genre (although the joining of fiction and poetry is an awkward one, and different years have seen different juggling). A third distinction—and one where I think we have it all over the Caldecott—is that the picture book award goes to both the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the cited book. (The Blogger spell-checker queried Caldecott, wanting to replace it with coldest. I’m sure there are many picture-book writers who would agree!)
The ceremony last night was quite lively, with a couple of hundred from Boston’s children’s book crowd on hand. My partner Richard took pictures, and I’ll post some here as soon as we figure out how it all works. The acceptance speeches and excerpts of the judges’ remarks will be published in the January/February issue of the Horn Book; the cover illustration is being created by this year’s Picture Book winner Mini Grey.