We asked our staff and reviewers to name their favorite Boston Globe–Horn Book Award winners. Choosing one favorite proved to be a bigger challenge than we expected — see Kitty Flynn’s six answers and Martha Parravano’s passionate response. Here’s what some of our other staff members had to say:
Katie Bircher, Horn Book Assistant Editor:
Wordless graphic novel The Arrival (Levine/Scholastic, 2008 Special Citation) was my introduction to Shaun Tan, now one of my most beloved illustrators. Photorealistic illustrations portray a gorgeous surreal world (uncannily intermingled with scenes reminiscent of the Ellis Island of our own late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries) to relate the profound disorientation of a recent immigrant. Another favorite of mine is Neil Gaiman’s episodic bildungsroman The Graveyard Book (HarperCollins, 2009 Fiction Honor book), which pays homage to Kipling’s The Jungle Book, but — being the tale of a living boy raised by ghosts in a cemetery — is imbued with the kind of dark magic only Gaiman can conjure.
Siân Gaetano, Horn Book intern:
I Know Here by Laurel Croza, illustrated by Matt James (Groundwood, 2010 Picture Book Award winner), a quiet and beautiful picture book, is so simple, so endearing, and so sharp that just the remembering of the reading experience brings me joy. The sweeping double-page spreads, the compact text, the protagonist’s strong, deep connection to home all work together to create one stunning book. And I have got to read Eleanor & Park…
Elissa Gershowitz, Horn Book Magazine Senior Editor and Online Content Editor:
Holes by Louis Sachar (Foster/Farrar, 1999 Fiction Award winner) goes without saying. Same with Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game (Dutton, 1978 Fiction Award winner). Both are twisty, puzzle-y, funny, weirdo books that I can read over and over and over again. A book I read just once, but will always remember, is Playing Beattie Bow by Ruth Park (1982 Fiction Award winner). It was while on my honeymoon in Australia, and I read it while staying in the Rocks district in Sydney, where the time-travel story takes place. A strange book, with a beautifully evoked setting.
Katrina Hedeen, Horn Book Guide Assistant Editor:
Life: An Exploded Diagram by Mal Peet (Candlewick, 2012 Fiction Honor Book) is part love story, part family history, part you-are-there recounting of the Cuban Missile Crisis, all brilliantly coalesced into a sophisticated exploration about what affects the trajectory of one’s life. And the ending is as powerful as they come.
Shara Hardeson, Horn Book Guide Editorial Assistant:
In 2008, the first year I was invited to attend the BGHB awards ceremony, Jonathan Bean’s At Night won the Picture Book Award. Bean’s lulling story of a little girl’s private excursion from her bed to a rooftop garden overlooking the city always stayed with me, I think because he perfectly captured the child’s desire for quiet, independent contemplation.
Jennifer Lu, Horn Book intern:
I haven’t read all the BGHB winners yet, but right now, I pick When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (Lamb/Random, 2010 Fiction Award winner) for its lovely layered characters, extremely tight plot, and irresistible mix of the mundane and the mysterious. Plus, there’s time travel!
Cynthia K. Ritter, Horn Book Magazine Assistant Editor:
I would choose Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes by Salley Mavor (Houghton, 2010 Picture Book Award winner) for three reasons: every time I read it I imagine the three-dimensional and tactile hand-sewn fabric relief collages coming to life on the page — they are that vibrant; Mavor’s playful artistic style is perfectly suited to capture the essence of the classic nursery rhymes for her very young audience; and after getting the chance to hear how she works and see her original art at the 2011 Horn Book at Simmons colloquium and for our January/February 2012 Horn Book Magazine cover, I remain in utter awe of the time, tenacity, and talent it took for her to create the detailed images. It’s a collection every family should own.
For more Boston Globe–Horn Book love, click on the tag my favorite BGHB winner.