A Note from Me (Mar 19, 2021)

Dear friends:

Happy anniversary? This week marks a year now that the Horn Book has been working from home, and I remain grateful and amazed that we’ve done it at all, much less as well as we have, thanks to our determined editors, Our Al, and our coworkers from the New York office.

I do hope we can get back into our own office soon. Concurrent with the pandemic, Simmons University has been undergoing an extensive renovation and building project — I had to wear a hardhat just to sort through the mail. But all signs point toward a return (for us and Simmons students) in the fall.

Despite all the stellar issues of the Magazine we’ve been able to publish since we went remote, I miss not just the intangibles of in-person collaboration with Cindy, Elissa, Martha, and Shoshana, but the practicalities, especially when it comes to book reviewing. We’re just wrapping up editing the reviews for the May/June special issue, but while everyone (publishers included) is making a first-class effort, nothing beats seeing the books in print (picture-book PDFs are the worst) and seeing the books together (on a shelf, on a cart, in a pile) rather than as discrete electronic files (try looking at even two or three of those at once). It is impossible to digitally re-create the value of Martha walking over to my desk, F&G in hand, saying “look!” or simply emitting the whoop, recognized by book reviewers the world over, that brings us all over to hers to getta load a this.

And get a load of this, too: two articles from the March/April issue, by Marc Aronson and Carole Boston Weatherford, respectively, about the quest for a greater cultural and racial diversity of authors and topics in informational book publishing. These two multi-awarded nonfiction authors know what they’re talking about; read their articles so you can, too.

This week’s snail mail brought a copy of Golan Y. Moskowitz’s Wild Visionary: Maurice Sendak in Queer Jewish Context from Stanford University Press. I confess that the term “queer” these days makes me feel old, both from being name-called that in my youth and from being around for its first reclamation in the 1980s by AIDS activists, but I’m trying to get jiggy with it. As far as Sendak goes, I know he disliked literary theory but enjoyed being the center of attention, so it’s anyone’s guess as to how he would feel about this book. (Oh, who am I kidding? He’d love it.) On April 1st via Zoom, author Moskowitz will be in conversation with old Sendak pals Gregory Maguire and Brian Selznick and you can sign up here to watch.

Bruce B. and I are still steadily climbing The Magic Mountain, maybe not the trip to be taking in lockdown during a pandemic, given that the book is largely about people sitting around in isolation and constantly taking their temperatures. Been there, doing that. But there’s something very addictive, and oddly comforting, about this novel.

Love,

Roger

Roger Sutton
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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