We asked our staff and reviewers to name their favorite Boston Globe–Horn Book Award winners. Here’s what our reviewers had to say:
Holes by Louis Sachar (Foster/Farrar, 1999 Fiction Award winner). The circular nature of this novel, from Stanley Yelnats’s palindromic name to the combination of family histories, creates a full and satisfying read. But Sachar’s restraint, both in the pacing of the action and the revelations about the characters, is pure genius.
Well, I think 2009 was a particularly strong year, but I’m biased. [ed. note: JH was on the committee that year] I’m pleased to see a pair of my all-time favorites in Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game (Dutton, 1978 Fiction Award winner) and Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising (Atheneum, 1973 Fiction Award winner), but perusing the list of winners underscores the unique eligibility period. The Boston Globe-Horn Book committee considers books published between June of a particular year and May of the following year; Newbery follows the calendar year (January through December). In 1991 Jerry Spinelli’s Maniac Magee (Little, Brown, 1990) won the Newbery Medal and Avi’s The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (Orchard, 1991) was the lone Newbery Honor Book. But they both got to be winners with the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards: Charlotte Doyle was the 1991 Fiction Award winner and Maniac Magee was the 1990 Fiction Award winner.
Susan Dove Lempke:
I love many of the BGHB books, but the one that pops into my head very frequently is M. T. Anderson’s prophetic Feed (Candlewick, 2003 Fiction Honor Book). It has a great opening line (“We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck”) that captures the attention of the reader while showing the malaise and limited vocabulary of the futuristic narrator. Much of what Anderson wrote has already come true, and this thoughtful but also funny novel gives us a chance to ponder what the pitfalls of all-knowing technology might be.
Marching for Freedom: Walk Together, Children, and Don’t You Grow Weary by Elizabeth Partridge (Viking, 2010 Nonfiction Award winner) is one of my all-time favorite nonfiction books, a masterful blending of the eyewitness narrative and gorgeous photography. It’s now the heart of a civil rights unit I do with my seventh graders, along with Kekla Magoon’s The Rock and the River.
My favorite BGHB winner is A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams (Greenwillow, 1983 Picture Book Award winner). Every time I read it to my second graders, they are completely taken in by the story of this one little girl, her loss, and the community that lifts her family. It’s one book that draws them back for an extra private look during free reading time. I always find a few copies tucked away in desks weeks after I read it out loud. It speaks directly to the hearts of children.
For more Boston Globe–Horn Book love, click on the tag my favorite BGHB winner.