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News from the North

Please forgive my long absence here; between Christmas and some family stuff I’ve been mostly out of the office for almost a month. And how things DO pile up: I am heartened by the advice of the late Booklist editor Edna Vanek, passed down to me by Betsy Hearne: “one book at a time.” That is totally transferable advice, by the way.


VCFALast week I was up at Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier, which someone told me was the smallest state capitol in the country. It is tiny. And cold. And in the middle of nowhe–Leda Schubert and Martha Walke, call off your dogs! But despite its, um, picturesque location, VCFA is definitely a happening place. I was up in the faculty lounge one evening talking to some friends when all this SHRIEKING came from below–the students had just learned who their faculty advisors were going to be for the current semester. WHY this involves such sorting-cap drama I don’t know but apparently it’s a tradition. Even if the place does look like something out The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, it’s no boarding school fantasy. I was impressed with both the students and the faculty’s expectations of them; this is a serious place. I’ll be writing more about VCFA in a forthcoming issue of the Magazine.

I was up there talking to the students about book reviewing, although, honestly, that’s really the last thing an aspiring writer should be paying attention to. Do you authors out there read your reviews? I wouldn’t.



KPKatherine Paterson was there as well, receiving an honorary degree from the College. You really haven’t lived until hearing Katherine read the chapter from The Great Gilly Hopkins where Gilly teaches William Ernest how to stand up for himself. The best damn anti-bullying curriculum I’ve ever experienced. I could listen to Katherine read all day, although I guess that wouldn’t leave her any time to write.

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. Oh, the Sorting Hat process. Yes. We quite love that crazy tradition of staying up late to see who we’ve been matched with. It’s madness. It’s our madness, and it feels magical and fated every time. Your talk was very fascinating! Thanks so much for coming, for braving the cold and the the icy hill, and for the copies of the Horn Book you brought with! I can say with confidence that you convinced many of us to invest in a subscription!

  2. For the nonce, I read my industry reviews. I may stop some day. I know exactly two authors who don’t.

    Is it easier to write reviews if the author isn’t reading them?

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