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When’s My Birthday?: Illustrator Christian Robinson’s 2018 BGHB Picture Book Honor Speech

When’s My Birthday? is a book about the joy, excitement, and anticipation a child feels around their birthday. When working on the book I did a lot of reflecting on my own childhood, and I was reminded that there was a lot of sadness, especially around birthdays.

To quote the rapper Biggie Smalls, “Birthdays was the worst days, / Now we sip champagne when we thirstay.”

A rap lyric that really resonates with me in this moment, as I was just at the reception upstairs drinking champagne (actually it was prosecco, but I’m not sure what the difference is) with the other Boston Globe–Horn Book Award recipients.

Of course, there were good days in my childhood.

Growing up, I was raised by my beautiful, wise, and strong grandmother. She made sure my brother and I, my two cousins, and my auntie had a place to call home.

Six bodies in a one-bedroom apartment in L.A.

We had limited space and means, but we had an abundance of love.

Drawing, making pictures, was a way of creating space for myself. I couldn’t control the circumstances around me, but I could at least create a world I wanted to see with a pencil and piece of paper.

So out of challenges came creativity. I’m so grateful to be here today and thankful to the committee for this recognition. Thank you to Julie Fogliano; Steven Malk; the team at Roaring Brook Press; and Neal Porter for making the book possible.

From the January/February 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. Read When’s My Birthday? author Julie Fogliano’s speech here. For more on the 2018 Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards, click on the tag BGHB18.

Christian Robinson About Christian Robinson

Christian Robinson is illustrator of the 2018 Boston Globe–Horn Book Picture Book Honor book When's My Birthday?

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