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A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars: Author Seth Fishman’s and Illustrator Isabel Greenberg’s 2018 BGHB Nonfiction Honor Speeches

Thanks a hundred billion trillion for this honor. This was a brilliant project to work on from beginning to end, so it’s wonderful to see that people (and particularly children, I hope) are enjoying our book. And from me, thanks to Seth, who is such a great writer to work with…and so I will let him take it from here!

—Isabel Greenberg

An enormous thank you to everyone here, for this amazing award and for your support. I was shocked when I heard the news and am still dazed just thinking about it.

I’d like to thank my incredible editor, Martha Mihalick, for guiding our book every step of the way.

I’m so sorry I’m not there in person. I swear I booked this birthday trip before you so kindly honored our picture book. But my absence doesn’t diminish my complete and utter delight at its being selected as a Boston Globe–Horn Book honoree.

I wrote A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars out of fear. I’m sure, at some point, many of you have felt the same thing. Staring over the crib’s edge at your sleeping child, wondering what you can offer to this human being. I can’t fix cars. I’m not especially outdoorsy. I cook only two dishes. But I can ask questions and give answers. That, we all can do. We can instill a drive of curiosity and wonder at the world around us. So, in a panic, I reached for answers I didn’t know to questions I hadn’t thought of. Like, for example, how many stars are there?

The answer, so beautiful and approximate and incomprehensible, wrote this picture book for me. I wanted everyone who reads it to realize that there are things too big to comprehend; things that even your parents or librarians or teachers don’t fully grasp. And I wanted kids to realize that the numbers we use to describe these gigantic quantities are recognizable, and familiar, and fun.

More important, I wanted every kid who reads this book to recognize their place in the vast universe. That they are a number, one of many, many numbers, but a unique one. And just like the sun, one star among a hundred billion trillion, they have their own special and nurturing light.

I want to thank my collaborator, Isabel Greenberg, who can illustrate the universe like no one else. It has been a true pleasure working with her. Thanks to my agent and friend Kirby Kim for his tireless work on my behalf. And I want to thank my wife, my love, for her steadfast support, and my son, Weston, who never wants to read this book, even though it’s dedicated to him. Thanks, kid, and thanks to all of you for helping children everywhere realize how special they are in this infinite space.

—Seth Fishman

From the January/February 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. For more on the 2018 Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards, click on the tag BGHB18.

About Seth Fishman and Isabel Greenberg

Seth Fishman and Isabel Greenberg are author and illustrator of the 2018 Bostonn Globe–Horn Book Nonfiction Honor Book A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars.

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