Stop me if you’ve heard this one from me before, but when I was a student in Zena’s children’s lit course (along with your friend and mine, Elizabeth), she devoted one class to discussing review journals, aka her Rivals. Booklist got some love because her star student, Betsy Hearne, was then the children’s book editor. With SLJ, she cautioned us that “you have to know the reviewer.” Kirkus was dismissed with a caution against relying on unsigned reviews, and the story of Trina Schart Hyman’s revenge. “And then there’s the Horn Book.” She took a long drag on her Carlton 100 (God, those were the days) and said “It’s known as the Little Old Lady From Boston.” Pause. Drag. “And it’s run by a little old lady, too.”
That would have been Ethel Heins–a few years younger and perhaps a hair taller than Zena. What can I say, Z? Ethel was great to me when I came to the Horn Book, offering friendship, history, and advice only when asked. She’s one of the immortals.
(And, hey, an early heads-up: John Green is giving the Sutherland Lecture on May 2nd and I’m told it will be a hot ticket. Watch this space for a link to make reservations, and I hope to see you there.)