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The 2017 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction

holmbeans-jpgThe 2017 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction goes to Full of Beans, by Jennifer L. Holm, published by Random House Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books.

Narrator Beans Curry immerses middle-grade readers in his kid world of Depression-era Key West, where he and his pals rub shoulders with rum runners and New Dealer tourism boosters, manage their own money-making schemes, and learn that adults and kids all do what they have to do to make it through hard times.

Ten-year-old Beans is a comradely wiseacre, leveling with the reader about such truths as “grownups are lying liars” as he and his friends freely roam the island in an anarchic existence that’s never curbed or controlled by their occasional encounters with adults. Yet Holm’s one-liners are deeply meaningful as well as funny and stylish, and under his cynicism Beans is a sweet and wide-eyed guy who loves his mother, marbles, and the movies, not necessarily in that order. The historical details will be eye-opening to youngsters who only know the prosperous Florida of the present day and who have only a hazy and distant notion of the Depression, and the book’s witty, economical writing makes it as delightful for group sharing as for independent reading.

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 Elizabeth Bush, former librarian at St. Damian School and adjunct faculty at the iSchool at the University of Illinois; Ann Carlson, librarian at the Oak Park-River Forest High School; Roger Sutton, editor in chief of The Horn Book; and, as chair, Deborah Stevenson, editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. For more information about Scott O’Dell and the Scott O’Dell Award please visit or contact Deborah Stevenson at


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. Sandy Doehler says:

    I have several books in my library (Oquirrh Hills Middle School) that have received this award but lack the medal. How/where do I purchase those to put on books that were purchased before the medal was awarded?

  2. I’m delighted with this choice. This piece of history was unknown to me before reading the book. Wonderful story + new historical knowledge woven so beautifully into the plot.

  3. Gail Aldous says:

    I agree with Judy. What really hooked me is Beans realistic voice, which I know will also hook students! I couldn’t stop laughing. The book’s historical details and historical language make history come alive and identifiable for the reader! Great choice! If you haven’t read Full of Beans, then read it.

  4. Wonderful choice!!!

  5. Alison Morris says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am thrilled to see it get wider recognition! It’s a wonderful example of funny historical fiction, and I think we could use more of those.

  6. “Full of Beans” is a delightful, informative novel and works as a prequel to one of my all-time favorite juvenile novels: “Turtle in Paradise” by the fabulous Jennifer L. Holm.

  7. Hello! The link to the award is not working—could you please update? Thanks in advance!

  8. Katie Bircher Katie Bircher says:

    Hi Shelby, it’s fixed now! Thanks for calling that to our attention.

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