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Thunder Boy Jr.: Illustrator Yuyi Morales’s 2016 BGHB Picture Book Honor Speech

alexie_thunder boy jr.You all must be at the Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards, celebrating. I want to say a big thank you to you all. Thunder Boy Jr. is a book in which I felt I wasn’t only supposed to make illustrations, but questions to ask questions to myself, such as how what we love and dream about, what we strive for, help us learn about who we are and celebrate that.

I love to make connections so I’m going to make one here. In the mid-1990s my neighborhood library was the Western Addition Branch Library in San Francisco. I spent a lot of time there reading The Horn Book, thanks to the children’s librarian, Nancy. I was fascinated to be learning about the depth of creating children’s books. I also started to understand that picture books weren’t only made of images and words, but rather questions, such as how what we love and dream about, what we strive for, help us learn about who we are and celebrate that in books.

Thunder Boy Jr. is dedicated to Nancy and her library because they opened that window to where I could see how much I love picture books.

You are all friends and book lovers, book creators and peers, and if I were there we would be talking a lot, about a lot of things. But today I am instead taking my first steps after having one of my kidneys transplanted into another person. I’m very excited because I am looking forward to being part of this chain of love and life. I’m not going to know the person who gets my kidney, but I’m going to tell you that my kidney, like all of me, has been read to a lot, because I love to read. I’m hoping that wherever my kidney goes next, it gets read to a lot, for many years. So I’m going to ask you something: if you meet a person with a new kidney, I hope you read them a book. Because then we will meet in person, you and I.

From the January/February 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. Read Thunder Boy Jr. author Sherman Alexie’s speech here. For more on the 2016 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, click on the tag BGHB16.

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