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He must have been pissed.

In hunting down a quote in the June 1972 issue of the Magazine, I happened upon a note that resonates with the recent debate over the ALA awards and confidentiality.

Under “Staff Notes,” in the Hunt Breakfast (yesteryear’s Impromptu column) the first entry is:

“Paul Heins [the then-Editor of HB], as one of the three judges of this year’s National Book Award for Children’s Books, cast the dissenting vote on the book chosen for the award.”

I have no idea if the NBA deliberations were meant to be confidential, but damn, Paul. When I served on that committee in 1999 the discussion was very amicable but I bet not in 1972. Although the note itself  does not deign to mention it, the winning book that year is revealed further down in the Hunt Breakfast as Donald Barthelme’s The Slightly Irregular Fire Engine, which gets a good accounting by the late great Peter D. Sieruta. That announcement also includes a list of “other nominees” and the judges (Lori [sic] Segal, Jean Stafford, and Paul Heins) and AGAIN a disclaimer: “Mr. Heins cast a dissenting vote.”

I wonder which of the nominees Paul was backing. I would have had a hard time choosing among Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, The Planet of Junior Brown, and His Own Where, three of the ten nominees listed1971 was a good year.

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. Well, he was certainly on the right side of history at least. To be a fly on the way for THOSE discussions. Now I’m off to read Peter’s encapsulation. I hope it’s scathing.

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