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From the Editor—August 2015

What Makes a Good...?When I was walking around the ALA exhibits in San Francisco earlier this summer, I kept running into publishers eager to show me their “narrative nonfiction.” I knew this was a concept (see Elizabeth Partridge’s article “Narrative Nonfiction: Kicking Ass at Last” and more on narrative nonfiction from The Horn Book) but apparently it had become a Thing — a new genre, perhaps, but a new sales hook, definitely.

In hopes of helping you sort through the raft (and the hype!), The Horn Book brings you “What Makes Good Narrative Nonfiction?,” the debut issue of our new quarterly newsletter What Makes a Good?, based on a popular feature in the Horn Book Magazine. Each issue will provide brief reviews of recent exemplary titles in a genre, an interview with a noted author (here Steve Sheinkin, the much-awarded historian for young people), and tips on selection from Deborah B. Ford, director of library outreach for our sister company the Junior Library Guild.

While children have been reading narrative nonfiction since at least The Story of Mankind (the first Newbery winner…in 1922!), renewed attention to the genre has stemmed, prosaically, from the Common Core State Standards, and, more happily, from the success of adult books such as Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City and Laura Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit. These books demonstrated a renewed enthusiasm for the terrific stories to be found amongst the real world, and it is heartening to see that the interests of young readers will be met as well. Kids have never been ashamed to declare their allegiance to good storytelling, and a true story — what a wonderful paradox of words, yes? — provides both the stimulus of narrative and bragging rights to the facts: I know something that really happened.

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Roger Sutton
Editor in Chief

From the August 2015 issue of What Makes a Good…?: “What Makes Good Narrative Nonfiction?”

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.

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