The 2014 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction

hill bo 196x300 The 2014 Scott ODell Award for Historical FictionThe 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

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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 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?

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