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>Place your bets!

>The Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards committee is beginning its round of in-person debate tomorrow, and I’ll be able to share the names of the winners with you next week. Any guesses? The awards frequently surprise me, as my involvement with the choices ends with selecting the judges and I’m not privy to their discussions. Because the award’s year begins on June 1, it straddles the eligibility frames of the calendar year awards such as the Newbery and Caldecott, and can thus both affirm (or not) and predict (or not) what those awards did or will do. Dates aside, the BGHB awards aren’t really comparable with the ALA awards, though, because the criteria are markedly different: fiction, nonfiction, and picture books are judged separately (poetry can fall into any and all of these categories); picture books are for both art and text (and illustrator and author); and books originally published in another country and then republished in the States are eligible. Any guesses?

We also had our July/August star meeting today. Those choices will be yours within a couple of days. Let’s just say it was lively.

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. Anonymous says:

    >Hugo Cabret is the one I’m wondering about. It may not fit so well into Newbery or Caldecott categories, but it seems like the Boston Globe Horn Book allows for considering the book as a whole, not just (or mainly just) writing or art.

  2. Anonymous says:

    >So what’s the low-down on the star meeting? Curious authors want to know. Is there a system or is it a free-for-all? And do you have a veto?


  3. Anonymous says:

    >I haven’t kept abreast of all the new stuff, but I thought A DROWNED MAIDEN’S HAIR was leaps and bounds better than this year’s Newbery winner, so I’m hoping it gets at least a little bit recognized.

  4. Anonymous says:

    >Unrelated request – because I know out of the lot of you someone will know the answer …

    There is a series of illustrated books for children that I think started coming out in the 1960s that were done by a very specific artist (great graphic, modern designs, if I recall) that all focused on a single city/destination – like travel picture books.

    I think the series had a vague name theme like “Hello London!” and “Hola Madrid!”. Anyone here familiar? Can you help a girl out with the author’s name?

    I remember seeing the books on New York, London, and maybe Australia and Paris/France, too … and possibly a few were reissued recently?

    If you can help – thank you.

  5. Roger Sutton says:

    >R., kinda, kinda, and kinda. Each reviewer is asked to tell us if something she’s reviewing should be considered for a star, and the editors will also add their suggestions to what shapes into a rough kind of ballot. Then all of the masthead and frequent guest reviewers, as well as anyone in the office who cares to, weighs in on the ballot via email. Meanwhile, the editors keep busy reading nominations they haven’t yet read. Claire Gross pulls together the email votes and suggestions and the editors all meet. Sometimes there’s complete or near unanimity for a book with a lot of readers, so that’s easy. Sometimes the reviewer is super-enthusiastic but no one else is. That’s hard, as it also is when the reviewers really want to star something and the editors don’t. We had some of each this time around!

    But there is no formal voting system, and I suppose I have a veto, but I tend to use it only with books I have myself reviewed, or in the case of what looks like a deadlocked discussion. Of course, the reviewers and other editors might roll their eyes and tell you different.

  6. Roger Sutton says:

    >Those travel books are by M. Sasek, and have been reissued in recent years by Universe. Very stylish but completely out of date. (I know this because for some reason the Guide editors always give them to me to review.)

  7. Lisa Yee says:

    >I second HUGO CABRET.

    I know people are wondering what category it could go in Newbery/Caldicott-wise. Wouldn’t it be amazing if it won both?

    In the meantime, I’m hoping Boston Globe-Horn Book will give it its blessing.

  8. Anonymous says:

    >Hugo Cabret!!! Enough Said!!!!

  9. Anonymous says:

    >Thanks, Roger! I’m grateful for the star-chamber explanation. Sounds like a system that works most of the time.


  10. Anonymous says:

    >Thanks Roger!
    Much appreciated!

    And just to say, having attended the BG Horn Book awards event beforg, I think you guys certainly have a fun vibe about it all. The speeches, the social aspect, and the book singings. It FEELS celebratory – not cutthroat. And that’s not a compliment I can bestow on some of the other similarly themed young(er) lit award events. 🙂

    Looking forward to the announcements when they come …

  11. Anonymous says:

    >apropos of HUGO CABRET – remember when the same argument was made for Russell Hoban? it is possible to be good at both! how many others might qualify in both categories? and totally unrelated: who remembers ClydeRobert Bulla, who just died?

  12. Anonymous says:

    >”book singings” is a lovely error!

  13. Saipan Writer says:

    >I rushed to the comments to add THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET, but see it’s been named, seconded, and lauded again. It really is a stellar book. And with such enthusiasm, I’m predicting it will win, hands-down.

  14. Anonymous says:

    >okay, but what about THE NEW POLICEMAN?

    Betty T, not quite anonymous

  15. Melinda says:


    Did Clyde pass on too? I guess he was in his 80’s or thereabouts. He has family in King City, which is up the road a bit. But I never got to meet him. Damn.

    Read his stuff to my girl. I liked the book about the apple tree.

  16. Anonymous says:

    >I hope BGHB choosed Hugo Cabret for fiction, too, but, now that I better understand how the book committees work, I will not be disappointed if something else is chosen.
    I mean, how would I have discovered Neal Shusterman without the wise judgment of that year’s committee? Or Yellow Star?

    What about picture books? Poetry? Non-fiction?

    The time span makes it tough for me to suggest–I never know if a book came out in June or May unless I really care, and I usually do not.

    And, though I can’t imagine this would happen, but Higher Power of Lucky could certainly be considered.

    Can’t wait.

  17. Anonymous says:

    >A Good Day by Kevin Henkes is the best I’ve read and shared this year!!!
    Kevin Henkes is the perfect picture bookmaker!!!

    Oh, and Hugo Cabret better be on the list!!!!

  18. Anonymous says:

    >Picture book:
    Dog and Bear by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
    Comet, Stars, the Moon and Mars by Florian
    A Good Day by Henkes

    Hugo Cabret
    Jack Plank Tells Tales by Babbitt
    Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson

    Up Close: RFK by Aronson
    The Dangerous Book for Boys

    Note to self: read more nonfiction

  19. Anonymous says:

    >Any chance you would consider posting a list of the hotly debated near missed stars? That could be good blog fun — unofficial but insightful.


  20. Roger Sutton says:

    >C: not a chance. Star discussions are a part of the editorial process, and the point is to get results onto the page. Not to sound like the SNL writers who got into so much hot water for their off-screen dirty-talk in the writers’ room, but if reviewers and editors felt that any part of the process was fair game for publication, what they would have to say wouldn’t be nearly so interesting. There, I’ve just talked myself out of a podcast I was thinking about.

  21. Anonymous says:

    >but you could publish it as fiction, roger, under a pseudonym.


  22. Anonymous says:

    >I truly don’t understand the hooplah over HUGO CABRET. Yes, it’s inventive. Yes, it hasn’t exactly been done before. But the story? It’s kind of clunky. Often the writing is sloppy. The characters are more like chess pieces than true characters— particularly Isabelle. They exist to move the action forward but they don’t come alive (my opinion, of course). And whose story is it, really? As for Caldecott, it’s NOT a picture book, not by any stretch. Though many of the illustrations are excellent, many are not. So are people just overwhelmed by the newness? I don’t get it.

  23. Roger Sutton says:

    >Leaving aside your thoughts on the text, Anon., I’m curious about why you don’t think Hugo Cabret is a picture book (mediocre or otherwise). It seems one to me.

  24. Anonymous says:

    >Okay, I’ll bite, but why are you working on Saturday? Never mind.

    Not a picture book. Hmm. Maybe this will lead to more discussion. I think it’s not a picture book because it’s far too long to provide a unified experience for the child and because it’s not the miracle that comes from the integration of art and text. Sure, there are other books in which wordless spreads interact with text/pictures (Wild Things immediately comes to mind) that are still picture books, but to me HUGO is far more of an illustrated story than a picture book.
    Here are the Caldecott definitions, which I know you know all too well:
    “A ‘picture book for children’ as distinguished from other books with illustrations, is one that essentially provides the child with a visual experience. A picture book has a collective unity of story-line, theme, or concept, developed through the series of pictures of which the book is comprised.” So back to you!

  25. Elaine Magliaro says:


    I don’t place bets on books of poetry. Unfortunately, they are all too seldom deemed worthy of major children’s literary awards.
    I can think of a few fine poetry collections and one excellent anthology that have been published in the past year that should be taken into consideration. I hope BG/HB acknowledges one of these books this year.

  26. Roger Sutton says:

    >The Caldecott definition presumes that the pictures are more important than the text (thus the justification for not honoring the author), but what do you do when, in a book like Hugo Cabret, both text and pictures are incomplete without the other? It’s not an illustrated book, in which an artist elaborates on images found in the text, and it’s not a graphic novel, in which the pictures and the text are, graphically, the same thing. As the audiobook production of Hugo Cabret demonstrated, the book doesn’t work without the pictures (new bridging sentences had to be supplied) and while the pictures have plenty of movement and emotion, it’s the text that supplies such qualities as the characters’ motivations. Do I think the book is primarily “a visual experience”? Yes. Will the pictures tell the story on their own? No. Anyone feel like going back through the roster of Caldecott winners to see how often a “unity of story-line, theme, or concept, developed through the series of pictures of which the book is comprised” actually holds true? Have at it.

  27. Anonymous says:

    >Darn. I keep losing my posts. Yes, I agree that one would be hard-pressed to find Caldecott winners that meet the criteria. So why did I post them in the first place? I suppose because people are talking about HUGO for Caldecott, and I still don’t think it’s a picture book. This is one of the reasons why I so love the BGHB awards, which are for the whole picture book. These days, it can be a challenge to separate design, art, and text.

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