Subscribe to The Horn Book

The 2014 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction

Bo at Ballard CreekThe 2014 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction goes to Kirkpatrick Hill for Bo at Ballard  Creek, illustrated by LeUyen Pham; published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, a division of the Macmillan Children’s Book Group.

Like Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods, Bo at Ballard Creek takes its young heroine (and readers) through a year of frontier living, eventful with the dramas of child life. But what a different frontier: Bo lives in 1920s bush Alaska with her two papas, miners drawn to the wilderness for the Gold Rush and now trying to hang on as the gold becomes depleted and their world begins to change. Staying absolutely true to what a young child would find important, the story is nonchalant about such adult concerns as moonshine and sporting girls; exciting when it counts (there’s a bear and an airplane); and downright cheerful in its depiction of Papa Jack (African American) and Papa Arvid (Swedish) and their multicultural community of miners and Natives. “People you love are always pretty,” observes Jack, a sentiment borne out in the affectionate, gently humorous story.

The Scott O’Dell award, created by Scott O’Dell and Zena Sutherland in 1982 and now administered by Elizabeth Hall, carries with it a prize of $5000, and goes annually to the author of a distinguished work of historical fiction for young people published by a U. S. publisher and set in the Americas. The winner is chosen by a committee appointed by Elizabeth Hall; its members are Ann Carlson, librarian at the Oak Park-River Forest High School; Deborah Stevenson, editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books; and, as chair, Roger Sutton, editor in chief of The Horn Book. For more information about Scott O’Dell and the Scott O’Dell Award please visit

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. So pleased for Pat Hill! And so proud of her! I was lucky enough to be her editor and publisher for her TOUGHBOY AND SISTER books, THE YEAR OF MISS AGNES, and others. She’s a wonderfully spare writer with so much story richly woven between the lines. CHEERS, Kirkpatrick Hill and the Scott O’Dell Awards committee!

  2. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    I almost cried when I read this! I love Miss Agnes and, even better, my students love her too! I have long been her champion and loved Bo and Ballard Creek when I read it a while back.


  3. Did anyone else think of THE WHEEL ON THE SCHOOL as you read about this quirky little community? So much to enjoy in this story.

  4. Lou Honderich says:

    Each book by Kirkpatrick Hill has so much to offer – unique characters, history, Alaskan culture, and always the authentic voices of the children portrayed. Bo at Ballard Creek and Kirkpatrick Hill richly deserve this award.

  5. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    Emma, I remember telling MKM that TOUGHBOY AND SISTER should win the Newbery that year. Ever forthright, Margaret replied, “It should, but it won’t.”

  6. Martha V. Parravano Martha V. Parravano says:

    Great choice as usual!

  7. Chris Kramer says:

    Is there a source for the medals so that I can promote the many O’Dell winners in our library. And is there a problem with the scottodell website?

  8. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    Hi Chris–there is a complete list at but you are correct in saying that it is down. Thank you for bringing this to my attention and I’ll contact the webmaster this morning. In the meantime, there is a complete list of the winners at Wikipedia,

  9. Chris Kramer says:

    Thanks for the speedy reply and for alerting the webmaster. I was unclear about the medals. I have a list of the previous books, what I am looking for a gold medal to put on our books similar to the ALA medals for Newbery, Caldecott, Seuss, etc.

  10. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    There is a seal, which we provide to winning publishers so they can either make stickers or put an image on a reprint jacket but we don’t print medal-stickers ourselves. I guess we didn’t think there would be demand. Something to think about in the long term, but if you have a sticker-maker I can send you the template. Write to me at rsutton at hbook dot com.

  11. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    The website is back up and information about the Scott O’Dell Award can be found at'DellAwardforHistoricalFiction.aspx

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind